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iTunes Tune-up 7: Cut To The Chase

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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Some of the music in my iTunes library isn't clean. No, not like that. I'm using the term in the broadcasting sense. Some of my tracks don't start clean, and others don't stop clean -- there's extra stuff before or after these songs that I don't really want to hear.

The problem selections mostly come from live concert recordings, which sometimes have long, rambling spoken introductions to the song as part of the track. Others have extra bits at the end of the track after the music stops. Many of them are the final track on a CD where an oh-so-clever producer "buried" bonus material. Usually the song finishes, there's some silence, and then the bonus material plays -- usually it's not worth the wait.

While there is plenty of audio editing software available for computers, iTunes includes a quick-and-dirty fix that lets me avoid the whole editing process when I just need to trim the beginning or the end of a track.

Let's say I want to cut out the spoken intro to a song (the process is virtually identical for shortening the end). The first thing I do is play it, watching the timer in iTunes to see at what point I need to make the cut.

I then make sure the track's highlighted and choose "Get Info" from the File Menu. When the song's window opens, I click on the "Options" tab. Halfway down are the start and stop times for the track. I then type the new start time into the box, hit "OK," and play the track. Time can be specified down to thousandths of a second, so if my initial attempt isn't quite right, then I'll experiment with ever-decreasing increments until it is.

Once I'm done, the song will start at the point I've specified rather than at the beginning of the track. I'm not really editing the track, just moving the access points. I liken it to resetting tabs in a text document. And since the sound file remains intact, I can always change my mind and reset the access points later on.

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