How do you prefer to automate track volume: insert gain plugin, trim, vca fader?

Just curious how everyone prefers to automate a track’s volume?

I have been using an insert to do it (fabfilter pro q because of the range, but I’m worried the number of instances of this plugin I’m using is bogging down my CPU). Looking for a more efficient way to do this and considering using a different method. Do you use a gain plugin on an insert? Vca fader? Trim? I’m torn between a dedicated gain plugin and vca faders.

What about the gain fader? That’s what it’s for?

Not convoluted enough…

In mixer console you have pre gain among the racks there - it can do a general adjustment pre any inserts - if you need it.
So if recorded low you can get it close to where compressors etc like it to be. Some hardware emulating compressor don’t have input gain, so.

To even out individual clips can be adjusted when selected with fade in/out and volume right in upp part of clip - either in corners or middle.

Then just use Volume automation on the track manually - seen when opened left lower corner of track panel.

And also later like how trim automation works to make an overall adjustment to entire track, or parts of track - this second level can be frozen into main automation whenever you like(look at settings in automation panel - open with arrow on automation button in toolbar).

To easily discover if track can be adjusted with fader or is automated - I try to only have read automation button active on tracks that actually are locked to automation. So easy to see.

As mix increase in size I start considering VCA stuff.

So no extra cpu needed for any of this above.
And automation panel is a good helper having that floating around. It has some fundamental settings and helper functions as well.

Indeed, for me in a nutshell:
Use input gain to adjust levels at unity
Use volume faders to adjust relatively
Use VCA’s to group these relationships
Use subgroups to treat them in groups

No need for 3rd pty plugins for gainstaging anywhere.
Digital gain just that, digital gain.

When I’m composing and I have a specific requirement for a change in relative volume (as opposed to gain) I put the automation on whatever channel strip I have on there (SSL-G usually). This leaves my fader completely under manual control which is what I prefer until I get to the mixing stage.

One thing I really miss in Cubendo that I used all the time in PT is Volume Trim automation.

hmmm… did you try Trim automation in Cubase - automation panel have a separate button to make that happend.
You get a separate trim curve - until you decide to freeze into regular automation.
There is a setting if to automatically freeze when leaving trim - or do on own command set to manual.

You do it on VCA as well.

Also what’s the difference with any of the many other ways to automate volume? Why automate yet another trim on something that’s already an automateable volume?

Understand comment is on Chaz - but that is like asking why VCA when you already have automation.

The trim part is really feeling in control - och doing in steps - and also listen A/B and many reasons.

Ok, I don’t agree, a trim is just another knob on the same GUI.
One needs input gain to optimize s/n ratio and output gain to mix, IMHO that’s it. The rest is not “flexible” just redundant clutter. Please explain the advantage?

I’ll have to have another look at it because when I looked at it last time trim only seemed to let me alter volume automation that was already there - as soon as I tried to trim it wrote values on the main volume automation track.

I like having my main volume fader completely under manual control when composing but often certain creative decisions need to be in place (such as a fade in on an instrument track or a relative volume change for a bridge or verse etc.).

I’m talking about volume, not gain. If you can’t see the value in trim on ANY automation parameter you’re missing a lot of flexibility in your mixing IMO. It’s a vital part of my workflow in all stages of production and has been for years.

What’s the difference according to you?

But if you turn off automatic freeze it and change to manual - you freeze relative into regular when you say so.
There is a setting in automation panel - probably somewhere else as well. Lower left corner of automation panel which can be opened from menu(don’t remeber) but also arrow on toolbar for automation mode.

Again, I would suggest:

  • input gain - a static offset, to optimize s/n ratio
  • channel volume fader - automate volume
  • VCA offset (and automate, if desired, groups off) volume relationships.

Simply put, gain is your pre-insert signal level. Volume’s your pre-fader (post insert) level. Completely different. Change your gain and you change a LOT more than just your perceived listening level depending what plugins you’re running (as you pointed out with your S/N reference).

{edit} crosspost with Raphie - we’re both on the same page! :wink:

Yep… VCA’s and subgroups work on the output and leave the dynamic relationships of the inserts of the referring or incoming channels intact.

As I say, I may have been mis-using trim in Cubendo as when I’ve tried to use it it didn’t operate as trim does in PT - it was only allowing me to trim automation already present, and if it wasn’t present it’d write it on the main automation lane not be an offset to a completely automation-free fader.

Every daw has an intended workflow, it’s not mandatory as there are many ways leading to Rome, but it’s often most productive to adapt to that intended workflow. There are many daw’s they all have a different view on how things should be done. It’s a real personal choice which fits you best.

I am not sure that was for me - can you use quote, please. :wink:

One example - vocalist made many takes över the song in different spots - and one she was much closer to mike and became more of bedroom voice, kind of.
So I wanted to wet more on reverb to make that similar to rest, earlier in song.

Very practical then to automate send, and when still feel needing adjustment later in mixing start doing that as relative trim and A/B listen by muting one.
Ok - this was it - I freeze this now.

The closer I get to final mix the finer are adjustments - and very useful to do in steps. And trim make every step visual for you what you did, and listen in a little extra.

Sometimes I take a break - to rest ears - and see if I feel the same next time listening. Sometimes I discard trim I did, and lower something else instead.

Your mixing seems to need no automation at all - just set level and done.
It makes a mix more interesting to have things coming and going, kind of, not the same stuff all the way through.
If you just add stuff it also becomes cluttered in the end - and some things need to go.
Sometimes you have to kill darlings even - instruments you are fond of.

But there are many ways to do the same thing.