Automation Modes in Music ProductionDo you want to master automation for your music productions?

Automation is extremely important for mixing purposes, creative choices, sound design, and even expressive capabilities in your music.

There are 4 Modes you can use for Automation, and you need to really understand how they work so that you can use them properly.

Automation Modes (Quick Guide)

  1. Read Automation: Plays back all automation (on/off)
  2. Touch Automation: Change automation in specific spots
  3. Latch Automation: Record new automation after certain moment
  4. Write Automation: Record and overwrite all automation
  5. Trim Mode: Record by amount changed, not absolute value
  6. Relative Mode: Similar to trim mode, but creates a 2nd “relative” track

What is Read Automation

This is a simple on/off switch that sets if all your automation is applied on your track (when on), or if you want to hear the track without the recorded automation (when off).

What is Touch Automation

This mode plays back all your automation like “read mode”, however as soon as you touch a fader, knob or parameter and start to move it, you will record automation. But the moment you stop moving it, the touch automation goes back to read mode. This way you can easily “touch-up” the automation on certain spots in your automation data. Which is what gives it the name “touch automation”.

What is Latch Automation

This mode works almost like touch mode, in that it only starts recording automation until you move a fader, knob or parameter. The main difference is that when you release the fader or knob that you record automation on, the value will “latch on”. Meaning even the last position will be recorded for the rest of the automation for as long as you continue the playback.

What is Write Automation

This mode will re-write all automation even if you don’t touch a knob/fader. It will in fact overwrite all automation data using the current value. For example, if your fader is set on -10dB and your pan knob to hard left, it will record those values during playback even if you don’t touch any fader or knob. This is why this mode is very rarely used.

What is Trim Automation

This mode record the automation by the relative amount you move the fader/knob, but not the absolute position of it. Like the name suggests, you can use this to trim automation curves you already recorded. Let’s say you have a straight volume curve set at -10dB. If you record with trim mode and move your fader, it will listen to how much you move it up or down, and apply the automation by off-setting the previous automation curve relative to your movement (and not the absolute value of the fader/knob you move).

What is Relative Automation

Just like with trim mode, when you record with relative mode, the automation is applied by “how much” you move the fader/knob, but not absolute position. The main difference is that the relative mode will actually create a new secondary automation track for the specific parameter.

For example, let’s say you have recorded all automation for a vocal track in your chorus. Then you decide you want to increase the overall level of the vocal track during that chorus. Instead of selecting all automation and moving it manually, you can use relative mode on the level and boost it as much as you want to. This will have the same effect, but is much more clear and easier to edit.