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LOGIC - Mixer Automation 1

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Author: admin
Date: 31-Jan-02

Logic Audio is a deep programme, there is always something to discover even if you know it quite well... The articles for Logic that we knock out at DT are designed to address the key parts of Logic so that all the main area's are covered... and one of the best parts of Logic is it's ability to automate mixes.

When SONAR was released last autumn, many were extremely impressed with SONAR's easy node-based graphical envelope editing on the main track Arrange area... But Logic Audio already has this feature, and it's more developed that the others because Logic's system works not only for it's 'own-brand' FX, but also for many VSTi's & DXi's...

[update 20/8/02 - now Sonar has equal ability in this area with the updates & new v2 now & can equaly work with most VSTi's & VSTfx for full listed controller automation... and it should be noted also that Sonar 2 also supports full rewire2 with Sonar sequencing the Reason generators, whereas Logic 5.2 doesn't have rewire2, only Rewire 1 & it's supposed to be the last major PC update apparently before it goes Mac only... We are now at Logic v5.2.. This article & it's sister article number-2 relate to Logic versions up to V5 which now has the enhanced mix automation... To see how that works select the Logic 5 review on this site... ok on with the page..]

With Logic's mixer environment you can automate the following:

  • faders on all channels
  • pan on all channels
  • aux sends on all channels
  • Eq insert parameters on all channels
  • Logic FX parameters on all channels
  • VST & DX fx on all channels
  • Logic Instrument, VSTi & DXi parameters.

The upshot is that you can automate EVERYTHING in the mix... and it's just so so easy!!... I'd say actualy it's the easiest s/w for automated mixing... even easier than many low-end newbie softwares!

But how do we do this?... Logic is hard to learn at best without some help from an experienced user?.. well this page shows you about mix-automation and gives you some tips on keeping your automated mix neat & tidy & organised.

Getting Started - Audio & Midi Data Flow

First we should remind ourselves how Logic's data flow works... (see 'LOGIC - Tracks & Objects' for the fuller sp. as well as the other environment articles) - Basicaly, midi & audio coming IN to Logic and OUT from recorded tracks in Logic, pass from their tracks THRU to the track-assigned OBJECT/s on the environment layer/s and from there OUT of the pc...

EVERYTHING passes thru this, and the nifty thing about logic is that ALL audio whether passing THRU from input to output when monitoring or passing OUT from recorded tracks has to pass THRU the OBJECT that is assigned to the Track.

In the case of audio (all audio) this means passing THRU an AUDIO OBJECT - This AUDIO OBJECT can be a mixer channel for either a standard 'Audio Track' channel, or an 'Audio Buss' channel or an 'Audio Instrument' channel - as the audio passes THRU the 'AUDIO OBJECT/S' layer, it passes THRU any assigned s/w plugins & eq etc and passes OUT according to the Fader-Level, Pan & Output assignment to it's destination - (either on to a Buss and OUT from there, or direct to the assigned soundcard OUT...

Now... ALL those audio OBJECTS it passes THRU are hard-wired to the MIDI buss part of Logic... So whilst any audio is passing THRU the 'Audio-Object' that same 'Audio-Object' can send OUT midi & receive Midi because it is permenently wired to the Midi buss of Logic... ANY part of the mixer you move send midi controller data direct to the Midi record Buss in Logic.

This makes automating your audio mix a piece of cake as there is NO special things to setup!!... Logic opens ready to go for all audio mix automation!!

'Audio-Instrument' channels do NOT have an INPUT flow... they simply route OUT, but the 'Audio-Instrument' mixer channels still send midi data.. the only difference is:

  • 'Audio-Instrument' channels audio source comes always from a plugin software Instrument assigned to that 'Audio-Instrument' channel.

  • 'Audio-Instrument' & 'Master' channels do NOT all connect to a SUMMED hub, they are seperate.

    'SUMMMED' ??... 'Hub' ??... well, all AUDIO-TRACK mixer channels & all BUSS mixer channels are SUMMED for their midi OUT - If you look at the Logic audio-mixer on the environment layer you'll notice that ALL 'audio-Track' & 'Buss' channels are connected with little graphic cables to small vertical 'HUBS', and these 'HUBS' have the word: 'SUM' written at the top of the 'HUB' and the number of connections underneath stacked verticaly like this:

    • 'Audio-Tracks' 1-16 sum to the 'A-PLAYBACK' hub.
    • 'Audio-Tracks' 17-32 sum to the 'B-PLAYBACK' hub.
    • 'Audio-Tracks' 33-48 sum to the 'C-PLAYBACK' hub.
    • 'Audio-Tracks' 49-64 sum to the 'D-PLAYBACK' hub.
    • 'Audio-Busses' 1-16 sum to the 'BUS-AUTOMATION' hub.

    This means that you can move ANY control from ANY channel bolted to the 'HUB' whilst recording from the 'HUB', and it will be recorded... Whilst recording is in place, Logic will record movements from ANY channel and mix those controller-moves all down to the same recorded part.

    In the case of 'Audio-Instrument' & 'Master' mixer channels, these do NOT sum to a hub you will notice... That means that ONLY the 'AUDIO-OBJECT' assigned to the track on the arrange-page that you are recording to will record midi control-move output. This seems sensible, because for 'Master' & 'Audio-Instrument' mixer channels you DON'T wan't merged controller data on a recorded part as two software synths will probably use the same controller number somewhere and they could get mixed-up in the resulting recorded part if you were to try to do controller moves for two s/w synths at the same time. - So these Mixer channels do NOT 'sum'.

    Let's look at a flow chart to clarify things... Here's the flow-chart for the SUMMED channels... i've omitted channels 33-64 for this diagram... this is the Hub's you'll see when Logic is opened with it's default 24 audio-tracks. - ALL hubs have 16 possible connections marked as connectors 1-16, and in this case of 24 audio-tracks default, Logic uses 'A-Playback' channels 1-16, and 'B-Playback' channels 17-24, (with 'B-Playback' hub connectors 9-16 un-connected to the hub as they are not active).


    The audio comes into the mixer channels either from the soundcard, or from audio recorded to the hard disk being played back.

    The audio passes Thru the mixer channel and on to it's assigned destination.

    The Mixer channels output midi controller data from their controls to their assigned 'hub'.

    The Hub's are selected on the Arrange-page Track headers as the record source, and the controller data passes from the HUB's thru to be recorded onto the arrange-page tracks!

    So... a simple record of the mixer 'Audio-Track' channels goes like this...

    Recording a simple mixer move

    Ok.. remembering our other tutorials, we select/assign our required Environment 'Object' or 'Instrument Object' at the track headers... So we select in this example the HUB Object: 'A-PLAYBACK' (in the select sub-menu: 'audio')

    Now our selected Arrange-page TRACK has the Object selection/assignment: 'A-PLAYBACK' - Any moves made on audio-track mixer channels 1-16 will be recorded on this track if it is selected, and we hit the record button on the transport bar.... so let's do it!!

    Select the 'A-PLAYBACK' assigned Track on the arrange page so it is highlighted... then open your audio mixer window....

    Now hit the record button on the transport and move the volume fader on the first 3 'audio-track' mixer channels... Move the fader on channel 'audio 1' - then move the fader on channel 'audio 2' - and then again move the fader for channel 'audio 3' ... Now hit STOP to end recording....

    Go back to the arrange page and you'll se a recorded 'part' on the arrange page, which'll look something ike this....

    You can see the 3 fader moves represented as grey vertical ladders, with a small gap between each set of grey vertical ladders - the 3 groups of ladders are your 3 fader moves... the gap between them is the small time-gap that elapsed when you moved the mouse to the next fader....

    Now... for the magic bit !!... ahem!... ready!?... ok... make sure the recorded part is highlighted... and...

    Hit the F3 key on your qwerty keyboard....

    Et VOILA !!!... the part transforms with the F3-key 'auto-define' to show the first fader move... See the little 1.7 at the bottom left corner of the Blue Hyper-edit area of the part? - That 1.7 means - channel-1, Controller number 7, (which is Volume)

    Now click the F3 key again..... Now it shows 2.7 - you are now looking at channel-2, Controller number 7, (channel-2, volume)....

    Now click the F3 key yet again..... Now it shows 3.7 - you are now looking at channel-3, Controller number 7, (channel-3, volume)....

    Yup... the F3 key will cycle you round ALL the controller data contained in that recorded part... It's as easy as that...

    Now expand the size of the part on the screen using the zoom-in and you'll see the easy to edit nodes of the fader moves... so easy to edit... You can edit the Nodes with the pencil or arrow tool - click on a Node to remove it... click on the Line to ADD a Node... click/hold & drag to move Nodes around - if you drag a Node left or right over other Nodes it 'eats them up' as it goes removing any Nodes which were there.. no need to delete all the un-required Nodes, just drag the first required Node across left or right and it removes the others as it goes... drag it back and the 'eaten-up' Nodes re-appear!!... Superb eh!!....

    This editing is available for ANY, YES ANY mixer parameter... Faders, pan, aux-sends, eq parameters for super-easy filter moves etc... ALL plugin Fx will also record their moves too!!... All you have to do is select the correct 'HUB' at the arrange-page track as the assigned environment Object, and ANY fx assigned to channels which connect to that HUB will record to the track when you move them!!

    Plug in an insert effect on a mixer channel and open it's edit screen... Hit record and move one of the fx parameters... go back to the arrange-page and there is the recorded part.. Hit the F3 key, and Logic will 'Auto-define' the recorded controller data from the plugin effect!!...

    Using this technique & then fine editing makes setting up timed Aux-Send 'blips' to the reverb or delay etc so easy... you can drag the Aux-send node around so the aux-send sends out it's little 'blip of signal to the send effect at EXACTLY the right moment!!... wicked for dubs & trance delay fx etc!...


    Let's say you've already recorded a fade up and down for a channel... Now you want the channel to pan left and then right at the same time as the fader is moving... fine... With the same track selected, simply hit record again & move the pan control... then hit STOP and exit record... Now look at the arrange page and you can see the overdubbed new part...

    At this point of course, you COULD simply create another 'A-Playback' assigned track & drag the overdubbed recorded part onto the new Track and keep it seperate... But what you can also do is this... Highlight the layered parts on the arrange screen by dragging a box around them with the arrow tool... now use the GLUE tool to merge them...

    (the 'Glue' tool looks like a miniature apollo rocket with a pointed tip)

    Now the two parts are merged into ONE part... you can now use the F3 key to cycle round and see your PAN moves and fine-tune them with the Node editing...

    Here you can see the PAN controller moves ready to zoom-in & edit... note the 1.10 display at the bottom-left of the hyper-edit blue lower area... This means: channel-1, controller 10 (pan)... It's as easy as that!!

    for even faster working, use the F1 & F2 keys to quickly flip to show VOLUME (F1), and PAN (F2) - Then use the F3 key to access all other control data contained in the recorded part!.... you can use these 3 keys to quickly access the mix controller data for Node editing...


    Use the handy 'magnifying-glass' tool to zoom In/OUT when editing recorded parts... You can bring up the tool-box directly under the mouse wherever the mouse is on the screen by clicking the ESC key at the very top-left of the qwerty keyboard - quickly click Esc & the toolbox appears under the mouse...

    Anyways... grab the Magnifying-Glass tool, and drag a small box over the Part you want to zoom-in to, and it zoom's IN.... The smaller you drag the box the larger the zoom-in.

    To quickly zoom-OUT to normal in ONE go, simply click anywhere on the screen with the magnifying-glass tool and the screen zoom's out again in one step back to the size it was prior to zooming-in!! - This is hand, and saves alot of clicking to zoom In & OUT to get access to the fine editing of the individual NODES when editing controller mix data...

    Well that's as easy as it gets, and should get you started with basic automation of you mix... This technique works for all channels feeding into HUB objects to SUM their midi outputs together... That's all the 'audio' mixer channels, and all the 'Bus' channels...

    For the 'Master' mixer channels & all the 'Audio-Instrument' channels, things work a bit differently... They all record like this exactly the same... BUT those channels do NOT 'sum' their midi output's together to a 'HUB'....

    Just remember.... MULTIPLE ARRANGE PAGE TRACKS CAN EACH HAVE THE SAME AUDIO 'OBJECT' ASSIGNED TO THEM... So if you like you can have 16 or more seperate arrange-page tracks, EACH one with the 'A-PLAYBACK' or 'B-PLAYBACK' or 'BUS-AUTOMATION' object assigned to them, and keep all your mixer channel moves seperate on 16 or more dedicated arrange-page tracks... Here's an image of an in-session mix with multiple tracks all with the 'A-Playback' Object assigned to them... plus some extra dedicated tracks for EQ & AUX-SEND moves & some Bus-Automation...

    Alternatively, you can merge the mixer control moves on one track/part and use the F3 key to step round the control mix data - A recorded part can contain moves from ALL 16 channels assigned to the hub you are recording from... Just use the F3 key to cycle round the control data for editing!...

    ALSO remember... the AUDIO TRACKS on the arrange page are simply for recording AUDIO... and editing cutting & re-arranging the resulting audio Parts for playback.... But the AUDIO TRACKS on the arrange page are NOT used at all for anything to do with the mixer channel moves... That is done on different Tracks with the 'A-PLAYBACK', 'B-PLAYBACK', 'C-PLAYBACK', 'D-PLAYBACK' or 'BUS-AUTOMATION' Hub 'Objects' assigned to them.... However, if you like, you CAN layout your Arrange-page track area so that audio-tracks and their associated Mixer move tracks are adjascent to each other by simply moving around your track order verticaly descending so that audio tracks sit next to their own automation move tracks... Like this...

    Here you can see the 'Audio 1' assigned Track with it's audio data, and underneath it is the mixer 'A-Playback' assigned track containg the fader moves for 1.7, (channel-1, Volume).... That way if you want to, you can see the actual audio parts and the mixer moves working in parrallel across the screen...

    Well, I hope this helps newbies to get into the wonders of automated mixing moves - with Logic Audio it couldn't be simpler, but with the new V5 they have improved this function even more, adding a button which automaticaly expands any mixer control track into it's component parts and automaticaly creating dedicated & correctly titled sub-tracks for EACH of the controller mix moves contained within a Track part... these new V5 sub-controller-tracks expand & collapse at the click of a button for even easier mix organisation & better control of screen clutter... However, to get better screen organisation you don't have to wait for the new V5 Logic... I'll come back & update this page in the next few days to show you some neat moves to better organise your on-screen mix data for even smoother working!!... until then get going with this and try it and see how great it is to have total control of your mixes!!...

    Try adding an INSERT Logic EQ into one of the audio mixer channel EQ slots... open the EQ... hit record and move the CUT-OFF FREQUENCY... hey-presto!!.. instant automated filter sweeps !!...... Enjoy!...

    LOGIC - Mix Automation 2


    'LOGIC - Mixer Automation 1'

    There are a total:  5  comments posted to this page.

    Name:  Gabriel Sepulveda Mora
    Activity:  Hobby-ist
    Date:  01-May-02

    very good

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    Name:  nakhon khumungkhun
    Activity:  part-timer
    Date:  09-May-02

    Logic-mixer Automation 1

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    Name:  Andrew
    Activity:  part-timer
    Date:  13-Jun-02

    How do you apply and monitor real time effects at the input stage of recording in Logic Audio. I'm using "Making music with Logic Audio". But it doesn't deal with it.

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    Name:  Brett Buckland
    Activity:  Professional
    Date:  27-Sep-03

    I own Logic 5.5
    I would like to be able to control the new Track automation (non-MIDI) using external hardward MIDI controllers - is this possible? I've read of a volume-smoothing capability that the track automation uses - is this how it uses MIDI data to convert to Track automation?

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    Last added comment

    Name:  Stanley Nicholas
    Activity:  Hobby-ist
    Date:  02-Jun-05


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