Academy Dashboard Forum Production Mixing Approach to featuring different instruments in the mix using volume automation

  • This topic has 5 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 5 years ago by Mike Waldron.
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    Daniel Ashcom

      Hi everyone,

      I'm making my first foray into volume automation in order to feature different instruments. I've seen lots of mention of this online but I wanted to see how others approach it. Specifically, would you simply increase the volume of the instrument you wish to feature, by say 1 dB, or would you also, in the case that you're alternating between highlighting two different instruments, also lower the other instrument's volume? My concern is that it's not obvious enough to the listener or the opposite, that it's just too much difference. Any rules of thumb on this or other suggestions?

      Also, would you do this sort of automation before or after applying eq, compression or other effects?

      • This topic was modified 5 years ago by Daniel Ashcom.
      Niki Pichler

        Heho Daniel,

        for me there is no rule of thumb just listen what fits!

        sometimes 1dB is enough, other times you need more like 3-5dB really depends on the song, the instrument and the arrangement.

        if i want to feature some instruments over other, i always automate after everything. the only time i use automation before some plugins is if i don't get the vocals or other lead tracks to sit perfectly in front, i'll automate them into another compressor.

        cheers, Niki

        Arthur Labus

          Hi Daniel,

          as Niki mentioned - there is no rules for me too personally.
          I am muting a lot for example.
          Also, i prefer to lower some elements in parts rather than increase volume of one, leading element.

          Warren said once, you can tell the volume difference of 0,7 dB. And those are the steps i have in mind while automating.

          Markus Hofer


            i sometimes boost the instrument just for the starting attack
            so the listener will get focused to it even its not
            realy louder in the mix (helps me keep the balance)

            Daniel Ashcom

              Awesome, thanks everyone for sharing your approach. I found some of my automation sounded too obvious and I had to scale it back and other things just weren't enough. It's true what people often say -- trust your ears first.

              This time I wanted to alternate focus somewhat subtly between bass, which had a sort of hook repeated twice at intervals, with lead guitar and I ended up automating volume a bit on both and also automating eq on rhythm guitars to cut out some of the lows/low-mids as to make room for lead guitar and to also help deal with some build-up of frequencies and muddiness at the lower end. I haven't really done much automation before and I'm still working on the track, making my first attempt at mastering, but it seems to be going well if very slowly so far. I'm saving some new signal chains and templates from this though so next time should be a bit faster. Thanks again.

              • This reply was modified 5 years ago by Daniel Ashcom.
              • This reply was modified 5 years ago by Daniel Ashcom.
              Mike Waldron

                Don't forget your pan automation. Sometimes panning something away from another track in a similar frequency range (as well as slight volume change) can give you the space to make everything heard.
                If, for example, a lead guitar was being masked - try moving the masking tracks out of the way whilst the lead is playing, then move them back afterwards.
                Sometimes it really works, depends on the arrangement.

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