Volume Automation like Pro Tools?

I was watching Dave Pensado do automation on sibilant parts of vocal tracks in Pro Tools. He simply used a range tool and snapped down the volume of the sibilance without effecting the main volume.

The workaround I’ve read here is:

Set your Locators.
Open Automation panel - engage To Loop.
Use Trim automation.

However, that lowers all the following volume after the range of the sibilant part. So, you have to create an additional step to add automation points to raise the volume after the sibilance.

Is there a way to easily lower the volume within a range without lowering any of the other volume?

Thanks for your reply.

Hi Swurveman - I’m also not picturing how the sibilance could be changed via automation on the main track without affecting overall volume, in any DAW, but then that doesn’t mean much! Unless he was working not on the main track? … but in an automation lane, maybe controlling a de-esser with the range tool? Or, maybe because he is Dave Pensado, and thus has magical powers :wink: !

You wouldn’t remember the link would you? I like to watch Pensado, even if he says some things that are somewhat disturbing to hear (like, “It’s better to sound new than be good”), even if he might be right about it!

BTW, re: automation point manipulation, I might be missing the point and this might be an inefficient way to do things, but … you can raise/lower automation points of interest without having to worry about changing anything after them by selecting them with SHIFT-click, and then raising/lowering them by dragging/using the info line etc.

Hi Alexis- Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQQyEvj7zzA

He talks about what he likes to do with sibilance around the 6:19 mark.

He’s talking about the vocal track.

Thanks for the “SHIFT-click , and then raising/lowering them by dragging/using the info line etc.” advice. I’ll check it out.

Hi Swurveman -

Great link, thanks. I see he’s put a bunch out this past year since I last saw his stuff. Pretty great!

I see what you’re saying now about dropping down the volume only in a certain part. You can do it in Cubase with automation like we talked about above. There’s also two other Cubase ways I know about to get done what he did in PT from 7:00 to 8:30, probably a bunch more too but I’m not there yet, I’m sure the smart guys will add some more, or correct as needed:

  1. You can “draw” a volume curve right on the audio track. So take your pencil and put it on the audio waveform, and “sculpt” it with your pencil tool. This is the simplest way to do it, it looks like it’s almost (if not actually as) simple as what he does in the vid at 6:19.

  2. But I find it’s sometimes not as easy for me to control the pencil tool dots as much as I’d like, so instead I usually will use the CTRL-SHIFT-V to volume up/CTRL-CTRL-ALT-V to volume down the segments that need volume adjusted. It’s a few more steps, but for me I get the control I need a little better.

So, like he did at 7:00, I first check what stands out too much volume wise. I’ll put some cuts on the track on either side of those segments to isolate them, highlight them, then do the key command stuff to bring them up or down by in dB increments.

If I think a dB is too much of a cudgel, that it needs more fine control than single dB level changes, I put down the crack pipe and come back the next day because I know I’m not good enough to tell things that well :laughing: . But if I still think so after taking a break, the levels can be changed in smaller increments by typing smaller increments in the info line.

Now, here’s where I like Cubase better than what he showed on PT - in PT all you can see is the automation curve going up or down; using either of the two methods above in Cubase, the actual waveform amplitude is changed to reflect the volume changes. I like that aspect of it a lot, of course it’s a personal taste kind of thing.

Anyway, hope this is maybe a bit helpful to you or someone. Oh, and of course, Pensado RULES!!

My method is: just use the scissortool on parts that have to be lowered in volume (because of hiss or whatever it is that disturbs you). Cut the area that is bothering you and use the volume handle of that one little part to lower the volume. To save you a lot of mouseclicks, use the 1 and the 3 key to switch from scissortool to the regular cursor and back again.

Also my way of working… :slight_smile:

Thanks for your reply ThePresent.

So you’re creating a new audio event, instead of simply lowering the volume of the existing one in a specific place. When you cut that area, do you ever have to also do a crossfade? Is this a noiseless cut with no pop, click etc.?

It just seems much easier to have the functionality of using the range tool and lowering the volume using the automation at the specific place of the specific event. I don’t know why Cubase doesn’t do it, but it may be how they manage their event/parts etc.

Thanks again.

Alexis, I tried the pencil tool inside the editor to lower the waveform. I kept getting a message to zoom in more, which when I wnet to a zoom level where I could use the pencil tool, I couldn’t see the entire area of the waveform I wanted to lower the volume.

Thanks. That seems to be the consensus best practice. Do you ever get a pop between the two audio events?

I don’t see why it is important to change the waveform, when we lower volumes all the time in Cubase without effecting waveforms. But, to each his own.

And yes, Pensado is helpful.

Thanks again.

Well, actually it is not a new event because it is non-destructive. Basically you’re just “setting apart” a certain area of your track and temporarily lowering the volume of the track. Crossfading is only neccessary when you hear audible pops in the entire mix.

I’ve not had that message, not sure what that’s about, sorry.

If the volume change is very large, occasionally yes.

But, I think I’m going to try using a region swipe combined with the key commands for changing volume I described above. Sweet if it worked - no scissor tool or anything!

Keeping in mind is that automation changes are applied after the insert slots in Cubase, to do what Pensado was doing - using automation to smooth out the signal a bit before hitting the compressor - in Cubase just have to be sure the comp gets i’s signal via a (post-fader) send rather than an insert.

That’s because you’re in an editor and trying to edit the wave directly, it doesn’t do that on the arrange page, where you want to be editing the part volume envelope.

Got it. Thanks Split.

BTW: Which way would you recommend volume automation of things like sibilance, if you don’t mind saying?

I quite like the waves renaissance deEsser and waves deEsser, but otherwise I just cut around the bit and drop the volume handle.

Oh, and apply a wee Xfade if necessary :stuck_out_tongue:

DeEssers suck. I sue the them when the client did a particularly bad job of tracking AND has no budget.

that being said, I do this work in the sample editor. It’s simple and allows you to correct the source of of the issue prior to processing. Highlight area (and sibilance becomes very easy to see-it always looks the same)…and apply a gain reduction. No clicks/pop…you can audition it right there to see if it’s transparent. Sometimes you need to apply an EQ rather than a gain reduction-or in addition to…depending on the type of issue.

I don’t want to look at all that crap. It’s a problem on the track…it needs to be fixed…prior to any processing at mixdown. Along with topping and tailing noise removal via fades on the WAVs…it’s all part of the “plumbing” stage of mixdown. The non creative part that I’d love to pay and assistant to do…checking phase on multi mic’d tracks goes there, too.

I disssagree, they work fine for most general work.

I’ve got both of those plugs. I’ll experiment. Thanks for your help.

Hi Popmann - thanks for that, I checked it out this weekend. I found the key commands I use in the arrange window didn’t seem to be active there. Do you use any key commands or macros for work in the sample editor?

yes – i’ve found a way of doing this using a macro + project logical editor combo; if i got time next week i could show you. what my macro does: you select a range using the range tool, it creates 4 automation events (nodes) at the edges, and then selects only the 2 inner automation events (nodes). that way, you can then grab those two events and gain / scale the automation up or down. if you only used two automation events (nodes), then that automation change would also change the shape of the automation curve before and after the region you are trying to edit (i hope that makes sense). (sure, you could also use the ‘trim’ function on the automation panel, but this is way faster, for me anyway, as it’s all done using one keypress).

you can check my macro in action here:


Hi Lucasbrooklyn.

Nice work.

Do you intend to explain the setup of your macro + PLE script?

This is a very elegant solution, but I suspect most users do not have the time or expertise to set it up and will simply pull out their deesser.

If you can do it, I wonder why Cubase’s designers don’t do it and make it a menu option. :wink: