Once a song has been mixed, there are the inevitable moments when you listen back to the end result and think, “ah, the vocal needs to be a touch louder for that line”, “the bass is too prominent in the third verse”, “we should mute the guitar in the bridge”, or, on a more creative note, “wouldn’t it be good if […insert ear candy idea here…]”.
In the good old days of tape, (ah, I remember them well…), a mix was as much a performance as it was a done deal. Once those reels started rolling, you’d stand there and all available hands would be ready to ride faders, tweak pan pots, adjust EQ settings, crank up effects – anything that added life to the mix. Sometimes, a mix required as much rehearsal as the song! Nowadays, we render the songs to a file at a speed that has nothing to do with real time and everything to do with the processing power of our computer. So how do you get those in-flight adjustments to the mix done? The answer is automation. Every DAW offers you the ability to pre-arrange those changes so that anything you could tweak in real time, (assuming you could work a mouse or control surface that fast), is adjusted for you by the exact amount required at just the right moment. This video looks at the basics of automation in Cubase, but the principles apply to any DAW.