Fader and volume, the perfect marriage. However bring automation into the house and that marriage can fall apart like shattered pieces of glass. Sounds too dramatic? It probably is. When talking about volume and automation, we’re talking about one of the most simple elements in music making, yet so essential and one part you’re probably dealing with most in your productions. Because of this, the following tip can save you a lot of time.
Picture the following scenario; you’re working on a build-up and have a snare-roll with a big reverb and delay on it. Just before it hits the drop you want to introduce a tom fill. To get the most impact, you want to cut off the snare-roll reverb and delay tails to get all the focus on that last tom fill.
It’s kind of a hassle to automate the reverb and delay dry/wet mix knobs of both two devices, so the most obvious choice would automating the volume fader to take all the volume down. All good, but then when you’re at stage of checking mix levels and you are coming to the conclusion that e.g. the snare-roll is a tad too loud. What do you do? You grab for the volume fader to adjust the snare mixing level… err!
Here is where the trouble starts…
Adjusting the volume fader will disable all volume automation you’ve put in for that tom fill, meaning you’re now forced to edit the volume automation for every single level adjustment you want to make on that volume fader. Of course you can throw in a Utility audio effect and adjust the volume from there, but that’s really fixing issues at the wrong end. Let me show you how I tackled this issue using a very simple made audio effect rack which actually comes with a nice extra.
So I when I say a simple rack, it is so simple that there is actually nothing inside it.
Say what? Yes that’s right, when you insert a rack in Live it actually creates a chain for you, with a volume slider. What we’re going to do is map that volume slider to a knob named Volume. Now for any cuts that I want to do, I will automate this Volume knob instead of the track’s volume fader, which I only use to adjust mix levels. The neat bonus is; by having volume control in a rack you’ve also gained to flexibility to control the volume at any point in your audio effects chain. So if you for example want to cut off the release sound of a lead together with a delay but want to keep the reverb tail going. Just put this rack between you delay and reverb and voilà!
So here’s how you do it:
1.) Create an audio or MIDI track and drop in an Audio Effect Rack.
2.) Right-click inside the empty area and select “Create Chain”.
3.) Click on the Chain List icon.
4.) Right-Click on the “Chain” volume slider and select “Map to Macro 1”.
The volume is now mapped to a new macro knob, however I prefer to adjust the knob’s value range so that the max value is 0.0db instead of going louder than that. This also makes for easier automation editing, as you then don’t have to tediously align the automation dots exactly at 0.0db. Having the max value at 0.0db you can simply drag automation all the way up.
5.) So to adjust macro knob ranges we have to click the “Map” button which is located in header area of the audio effect rack.
6.) In the top left of your screen you can now adjust the min and max values. Click on the “Max” volume slider and type 0.0, you can then exit by clicking the “Map” button once again.
7.) Rename your rack and macro knob to “Volume” or to anything you like and click the top-right icon to save your rack.
8.) And there you have it, your shiny new Volume rack!
Nice bonus: place the Volume rack anywhere to control the volume at any point inside your audio effects chain, even after automation or copy the rack onto another track to have the same volume automation applied.
Oh and did you know you can put this on any audio or MIDI track and save it as default? This way you don’t have to insert it every time you create a new track. Right-click on any track and select “Save as default Audio or MIDI track”.
That’s it, have fun and don’t forget to leave a comment below!