Tag: touch

DAWs, Automation, and the PreSonus FaderPort

On Leap Year, February 29th, we featured a pretty awesome piece of gear by PreSonus called the FaderPort as the Daily Deal. Now, despite Sonic Electronix making great strides in pro and home audio, we’re still primarily known for our car audio products. Many of our customers probably have no idea what a unit like the FaderPort would even be used for… until now. I hope you’re listening, because school’s now in session!

Single Channel USB Automation Controller with Transport Controls

DAWs and Automation

First of all, “DAW” stands for “Digital Audio Workstation,” and they are the means through which virtually all music is recorded, edited, mixed and mastered nowadays. Secondly, one of the great things about DAWs is that they have something called “automation,” that was carried over from those huge, old-school mixing consoles that were their predecessors.

Basically, automation is a way to non-destructively change some aspect of your audio over time in a mix. Some common examples are volume, muting, panning and DSP (Digital Signal Processing) effect levels. To break it down a little further, let me give a practical example: let’s say you’re mixing a song and you notice that between 1:00 and 1:05, the song gets quieter than you’d like it to be. A little automation can fix that in a snap!

Automation modes

It would be near impossible for me to speak for all DAWs, but the two most popular ones, Apple’s Logic and Avid’s Pro Tools, have four main automation modes:

  1. Read:
  2. The default automation mode. All this means is that your DAW will follow any automation data that exists on your track.

    Automation Read
    Read Mode
  3. Touch:
  4. In this mode, automation data will begin writing once you “touch” a fader, button or knob: either using a mouse in the DAW program or with your finger(s) through tangible faders, buttons and knobs like those on the PreSonus FaderPort.

    As soon as you let go, it will snap back to wherever the playhead was on the automation line when you pressed play, and will resume reading any automation data that’s on the track. Pro Tools even allows you to set the speed of the snap back.


    Touch Mode
  5. Latch:
  6. This mode is like Touch mode, except that instead of snapping back to where it was when you pressed Play, it remains at the level you leave it at. Like both Touch and Write Mode, Latch will overwrite any automation data it comes across.

    Unlike Write Mode, however, neither Touch nor Latch Mode will overwrite automation data without you touching a fader, knob and/or button; both modes will simply read automation data as would normally occur in Read Mode.

    Automation Latch
    Latch Mode
  7. Write:
  8. This mode will start writing automation data wherever the (vertical) playhead sits on that bold, black (horizontal) automation line, destructively overwriting whatever automation data it comes across.

    In the picture to the right, the red line you see is the automation data being written. As soon as I press Stop on the DAW, all that automation data above the red line will be erased. (Also, keep in mind that you can Undo those changes.)

    Automation Write
    Write Mode

The PreSonus FaderPort:

So, how does that all tie in? Well, the FaderPort can help you do all that stuff with a tangible fader, buttons and knobs, which minimizes time wasted having to navigate around with your mouse, not to mention learning scads of keyboard shortcuts and such.

As a pro audio engineer myself, let me tell you, a device like the FaderPort is tremendously helpful and is a steal at its current price; especially for those of us on a tighter budget.

Anyway, that about wraps it up! I hope you all learned something and will pick up one of those sweet FaderPorts before they’re gone!

FaderPort
Pick up yours today!

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