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Tips For Making The Most Of Automation In Your Tracks

Automation is one of the most powerful tools at an engineer’s disposal, yet many don’t take advantage of it or use it to its fullest. In this post, we’ll cover what automation is, explore its modes, and give you some tips and tricks for deploying it in your own productions.

Automation is a fancy word for letting a computer (in this case, your DAW) perform tweaks or adjustments for you during playback. This means that you can program your DAW to alter its parameters when, how, and where you want it to.

The concept of automation is a holdover from the old analog days, when engineers had to perform every knob, fader, and switch movement by hand. Indeed, it would often take several sets of hands to “perform” a mix by making pre-planned, on-the-fly adjustments during playback, while a separate 2-track reel-to-reel machine recorded the result.

For example, one individual might be responsible for bumping up the lead vocal fader during a song’s chorus and lowering the piano during the song’s bridge. Another individual might be charged with lowering the reverb mix when it became overwhelming and increasing it when sources became too dry.

A third individual might be tasked with riding the bass fader to make it sit right. Then, of course, someone needed to take command of the master fader during the song’s final fadeout.

When technology became more advanced, high-end analog consoles began incorporating computerized automation, which enabled an engineer to program the console’s motorized faders and other controls to perform these types of actions automatically during playback. This allowed a single individual to craft complex mixes.

Today’s DAWs include a variation of this sort of automation. What’s more, modern DAWs can perform automation feats that even expensive, world-class consoles couldn’t come close to in decades past.

So, why would you want to use automation? Simply put, it empowers you to create dynamic mixes, with laser-like timing and precision, quickly and easily.

Best of all, you can do this without relying on a roomful of people. And, unlike these said roomful of people, your DAW’s automation will do exactly what you tell it to.

After all, humans make mistakes!…….

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