Using Automation To Get That Pro Sound

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Take your sound to the next level!

A song without automation is like food without seasoning. Sure, it’s food, but it’s boring! Automation really brings your sounds to life and gives so much energy. There are a few main uses for automation I want to cover today, so take notes!

 

Create Movement

A song without automation is like food without seasoning. Sure, it’s food, but it’s boring! Automation really brings your sounds to life and gives so much energy. There are a few main uses for automation I want to cover today, so take notes!

Differentiate Sections

If every section of your songs sounded the same, people would probably quit listening pretty quick. If you pay attention to the songs on the radio though, you’ll start to notice that even though each chorus may play the same notes, it sounds different each time. One thing that can help achieve that is using automation to bring one or several parameters down for the first chorus, then up higher for the second, and higher still for the third. Or maybe the first verse has a filter with the cutoff in a certain position, and then the cutoff is moved for the next verse. Experiment with this, and I’m sure you’ll immediately get better results!

Add Effects

Much like the last point, you can use automation to add cool effects to your tracks. Most of the time artists don’t just turn on a delay or filter or reverb at full strength. That would be jarring and really stick out. Instead, they fade it in slowly. Filter sweeps like this are such a common occurrence, I bet you can find them in almost every EDM song out there!

Turn Effects Off/On

Imagine if you had a project that when you added an effect it had to stay on for the entire song. Can you hear the absolute chaos that would happen? Either that or you’d have to be extremely picky about which effects to use. Well I have good news for you! You can use automation to turn effects off and on! So you can go crazy and have a ton of effects for a certain section of a song, and then turn them all off for the next. This can be really useful when you want to use one synth sound for multiple parts, but you want the sound to change, like using a lot of distortion for example. This can really help each section stand out as well, which is always a good thing.

Your Turn

Next time you write a song, try using a lot of automation in it. I like to write out all of the parts and arrange the full song before I worry about this step just to keep things simple.  At the end, notice how much different the song would be without it. Instead of a bunch of loops and blocks of sound, you have a flowing song that sounds great!

 

Action:

Beginner – Start a new project and add a synth and one effect plugin. Now choose one parameter in the synth to automate and one in the effect. Play the loop back with the automation turned on and then turned off. Notice how much different it sounds?

Advanced – Create a song and add all of the building blocks for it, then build out an arrangement. Don’t try to automate anything until this point. Now, Choose at least one parameter on each track to automate. You can choose more if you want. Try to use automation in each of the ways listed above in your song.  Once you’re all done. Save a new version of the song with all of the automation disabled or deleted. Now compare the plain song to the one with automation. 🙂

Question: What do you like to automate the most? Which point above is something you’ve never though about before?  How do you think it could help you with your productions?