Common Audio AAF Issues With Premiere

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Adobe Premiere Pro is known among sound editors and mixers to be problematic when receiving audio by AAF (or OMF). There’s bugs, features that aren’t compatible with the AAF/OMF formats, and very little information from Adobe about any of it.

I’ll refer to two types of AAFs: “Embedded” and “link to source” (in Pro Tools terms);  “Embed Audio” and “Separate Audio” (in Premiere’s terms).

  • Issue 1: Distortion/Garbage audio when exporting embedded AAF from Premiere Pro
  • Issue 2: AAFs are corrupt/missing tracks if the Premiere sequence contains nested clips
  • Issue 3: Premiere cannot export an AAF with transition effects
  • Issue 4: When an AAF links to source media, Premiere points to multi-channel audio files (not supported by Pro Tools). Side effects:
    • Files will be missing in Pro Tools and won’t relink (despite having the files)
    • Clips may be truncated or missing completely from the timeline.
    • The Pro Tools Import session notes will show “Pro Tools does not support import of AAF/OMF reference to multi-channel audio files” and likely other errors

Issue 1: Distortion/Garbage audio when exporting embedded AAF from Premiere Pro

This is a known bug that was fixed in Premiere version 12.0.1 (January 2018) however it’s a problem for any sequence that was used in previous versions of Premiere.

In simple terms: when Premiere exports an AAF (with embedded media) it messes up some of the audio, making it unusable.

In tech terms: It incorrectly processes audio that exceeds zero (which shouldn’t be allowed anyhow) as it goes into the AAF wrapper. It may have a brick-wall limiter programmed in but it’s not working correctly – it interpolates the audio back to the zero crossing point. The result is a bizarre distortion that can’t be repaired with audio correction tools. Here’s what the audio looks like in Pro Tools with the bug (upper/blue track), what it should look like (lower/red track), and the distortion up close:

Premiere AAF bug seen in Protools with and without error
AAF Premiere bug distortion closeup

Cause of the bug: Attribute data in some audio clips (I suspect it’s volume or channel volume specifically but didn’t test each parameter individually).

What doesn’t work to fix it:

  • Other versions of Pro Tools or other DAWs (tested in Logic and Nuendo). The problem occurs in the export from Premiere.
  • Opening the sequence in 12.0.1 or later.
  • Repairing attributes in Premiere 11.


  1. Open the sequence in 12.0.1 (or later)
  2. Select clip (or all clips)
  3. Right click on the clip
  4. select “Remove Attributes”
  5. Deactivate all the audio options (pan, volume, channel volume, and any other processing).
  6. output AAF with embedded media

Issue 2: AAFs are corrupt/missing tracks if the Premiere sequence contains nested clips

In simple terms: When opening an AAF, you’re expecting to see a lot of tracks and instead there’s only 2 (1 video and 1 audio). Other session data may not look correct.

In semi-tech terms: Some Premiere editors use “nesting” in their sequence as an organization tool. A good analogy would be file folders in a filing cabinet. Unfortunately, the AAF format isn’t as sophisticated and only understands a filing cabinet with a bunch of papers in it – it doesn’t know what to do with the folders. Instead of providing a warning, Premiere just outputs a junk AAF.

Solution: Remove all nesting from the sequence.

Left: Pro Tools AAF import window from a sequence with nesting; Right: With nesting removed. Note the name, start time, timecode format, and video frame rate are different.

Track count only shows 1 video and 1 audio track when it should have 24 audio tracks:

  • Premiere’s help site (for version 12) does mention this issue but it’s not very clear the consequences (“Avid Media Composer does not support linking to the nested sequences. Therefore, in the AAF file, there’s no linking between the master composition and the nested sequences.”)

Issue 3: Premiere cannot export an AAF with transition effects

This is a widely known issue with Premiere editors because it’s impossible to miss it: the AAF export fails. The problem is technically “overlapping transitions” and the only known workaround is to remove all the transitions. It’s a pain for everyone – editors removing their work, audio people getting material without fades – but it’s a problem that comes from Adobe – one they have chosen not to fix.

(I didn’t get a chance to troubleshoot this myself since it’s an issue I already knew about – if you know know a workaround or how to detect the “overlapping transitions” that stop the export, please contact me!)

Issue 4: When an AAF links to source media, Premiere points to multi-channel audio files, which Pro Tools doesn’t support

(Update 2019: At some release in Pro Tools 2019, multichannel files can be imported from an AAF! While I haven’t tested in detail, it is now included in the troubleshooting options below)

There’s a few symptoms to this problem:

  1. The Session Notes will show “Pro Tools does not support import of AAF/OMF reference to multi-channel audio files” and likely other errors
  2. Files will be missing in Pro Tools and won’t relink (despite having the file it’s referring to)
  3. Clips may be truncated or missing completely from the timeline.

In simple terms: This is sort of like playing a game of Charades. You know the word and you know the person you’re playing with knows the word, too. But, for whatever reason they just don’t say the actual word and you can’t tell them what it is. You probably have the file you need but Pro Tools doesn’t recognize it because it’s coming in via AAF/OMF. (If you were importing the file on it’s own it would work fine.)

In technical terms: We’re working with different software that independently can work with multi-channel audio but once it goes through an AAF wrapper, Pro Tools doesn’t recognize it (and is unable to use it). It’s confusing for a few reasons. The Session Notes will say “Pro Tools does not support import of AAF/OMF reference to multi-channel audio files” but it still will show all those files in the relinking window. If you try to manually relink and point it to the file you need, Pro Tools won’t find any file candidates. In the relink window, if you select an offline file then drag the source file to the relink window, it will give you a warning: “One or more files are incompatible in format, sample rate or bit depth with the audio file that you are trying to relink.”

It appears as a relinking/missing media problem that can’t be fixed. You can have the same drive as the editor with all the same media and it won’t relink. The key is in the session notes – is there an error about multi-channel audio files?

Protools error opening AAF incompatible files

The other errors:

  • “some clips had invalid bounds and were adjusted or deleted”
  • “Some OMF parsing errors occurred”
  • “Some renderings were missing”
  • “Some elements were dropped because they are beyond the maximum session length”

How it looks in the Pro Tools timeline

When this multi-channel issue happens, it may reflect in the timeline as well. In the below example, all 7 tracks should look exactly the same (in terms of region  placement and length) but instead looks like this:

One workaround that for sure works is to export a Final Cut Pro XML from Premiere. It can be opened in Final Cut Pro 7 (the last version that allows AAF export), or X2Pro Audio Convert.

Other options that may work:

  • Try a version of Pro Tools 2019 or beyond (I’m not sure what version this fix came in exactly). Tip: this could mean asking a friend to open it, if you are not able/willing to upgrade.
  • Export an AAF with embedded media, not link to source media (but AAF may still be exporting mulitchannel so this may not work)
  • Exporting an OMF vs an AAF

Takeaways for Premiere editors (if you’re exporting for post-production sound

  • Don’t use nested clips.
  • Don’t use merged clips.
  • Audio transitions may need to be removed (if your AAF/OMF output fails)

This information was tested January 2018 and with Premiere cc2018, 12.0.8, Pro Tools 12 & 2018, and Nuendo 8. Premiere may address some of these issues in future releases. 

Check out some of my product recommendations for editors and filmmakers to get better audio.

11 thoughts on “Common Audio AAF Issues With Premiere”

  1. Adobe Premiere is HORRIBLE. No wonder everyone is going to Avid. I miss Final Cut Pro 7 – I wish they had kept going with Final Cut Pro 8 & 9 instead of the 10 program. FCP is so vastly better than Adobe Premiere. I was going to sue Adobe because of all the bugs.

    • I don’t know on the Premiere side (perhaps another reader can update!) but I know Pro Tools changed its handling of multi-channel files on AAF input in the 2018 version. So, I suspect issue #4 is no longer an issue with the latest versions of Pro Tools.

  2. Apologies if this is a bit of an amateur question — but when exporting for AAF and post production sound, why can’t video editors use merged clips? How are we supposed to sync otherwise, manually in the timeline or using a separate program? Is there a workaround for this? Thank you for any answers in advanced.

    • The issue is merged clips causes the AAF to lose metadata (the identifying information Pro Tools needs to connect an audio file to the session). Think if it like putting a finished puzzle in the mail then having it show up on the other end back in pieces and all the pieces have turned black. Even if the person you sent it to knows what the finished puzzle is supposed to look like, they have no way of putting it back together.

      But, looking at this post I wonder if there’s been a software update in Premiere or Pro Tools that gets around this. That article also suggests using multi-camera workflow as an alternative (which I believe is what the Premiere editors I used to work with used to do). I can’t speak to it anymore than that since I’m not a pic editor (sorry) but hopefully that helps!

  3. Date: 5/1/2020
    Mac OS X 10.14.6 Mojave
    Premiere 13.1.5 Build 47
    Logic Pro X 10.4.8

    Problem: Premiere audio SUCKS. Medium complicated project – 22 minute TV episode. Too many clips and too many track effects for Premiere to handle. Audio and video playback glitches – plays 2 frames, jumps back one, repeats glitch every 2 frames.
    Work around: Export AAF to Logic Pro X.

    Testing AAF from Premiere to Logic.
    1- Exported Low bitrate, smaller frame size reference movie as video placeholder in Premiere sequence
    2- Duplicate sequence, remove all video clips, bring in 1 reference movie video clip, keep all audio clips/track/edits intact
    3- export AAF Settings: Mixdown Video checked, Breakout to Mono enabled, 48k, 16 bit, embed audio, broadcast wave, copy complete audio files (side note: these settings allow Logic to import audio with original clip names instead of gibberish random names)
    4- Import into Logic without errors, BUT AUDIO REGIONS DELAYED BY LENGTH IN FRAMES OF ANY AUDIO CROSS FADES THAT EXISTED IN PREMIERE SEQUENCE. First Audio is in sync, audio after the first premiere cross fade is delayed out of sync by number of frames that existed in the fade.

    Remove all audio cross fades, repeat above steps, all audio in sync in Logic.

    TRY FIX:
    Repeat steps in Premiere 14 to see if bug remains.
    NOPE. Premiere 14 exhibits the same behavior. Have to remove all fades and audio clip attributes.

    PERMANENT SOLUTION: Move to Resolve and say goodbye to Premiere forever!!

    • Thanks for sharing all this info!! I didn’t mention this bug in the post but I worked with an editor years ago who had to delete all his crossfades just to get an AAF to export. But back then it would throw an error – so you couldn’t even make an AAF. Huge pain!

  4. Hi April!

    I work at Adobe and recently became product manager for a couple of teams that focus on workflow issues.

    Other than the nesting issue, which as you’ve pointed out isn’t in the AAF spec, we believe that all the items you’ve mentioned are fixed in recent versions of Premiere Pro. If that’s not your experience, please let me know.

    Also, we’ve got some ideas about making audio and VFX turnovers easier with Premiere Pro and common applications. I’ve love to chat with you about this, so each out to me if you’re interested.


  5. I’m a PP editor who has been using the Mixdown feature in the Essential Sound panel and find that any sequence containing one of these mixdowns cannot be exported via AAF/OMF.

    The AAF export simply fails, whereas the OMF, after skipping the typical progress indicator, writes an empty file (zero bytes).

    The only ‘fix’ I’ve found is exporting the mixdown to AIF, re-importing and replace the mixdown in the sequence. Thence, all is well!

    Except for my audio engineer who prefers the option to alter the cut(s) of the music track. Altogether an unsatisfactory state of affairs.

  6. Fergus – I’m having a problem with Premiere 22.4 M1 Mac Studio running OS Monterrey – trying to deliver AAF to ProTools… and the sound mixer keeps getting the Multi-channel audio error code. Can you help ?


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