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Anatomy of a Mix: Automation [Excerpt]

Anatomy of a Mix: Automation [Excerpt]
This snare build automation, this was fun. Let’s go take a look at this.

There’s a couple of snare fills that we’re building. I mentioned that earlier, and I wanted these to really shine, so let’s take a quick look at each of these.

What I chose to do — you can see on this one, I did a crescendo of the snare, my snare sample, and the snare bottom mic. What I ended up doing for the whole song was going and looking for anything about the snare bottom I could boost, and we had a couple of them that sound really cool

So I’m going to — let’s see… Let’s listen to this first.


That snare building right there is mostly this snare bottom mic. Check it without the automation.

[mix, without automation]

So you can feel the other two snares building, but nothing like this one.

[mix, with automation]

Love it, man. I love what that did to the song, and then also on some of the ghost notes, especially this fill.


I boosted the snare bottom. I’ll let you guys have some fun with that, but I went throughout the song, and anytime I felt like the snare needed a little bit of love, here’s again some more snare bottom automation.

[mix, snare bottom automation]


Just little things like that take a mix from good to great.

Then we’ve got out here a couple more.


And then the last one.


I love that. How the snare bottom comes up, then he transitions to the toms. It’s got a nice vibe to it.

So that was drum automation. I also for one of them messed with the drum crush right here for the fill.

[mix, drum crush automation]

So that’s kick, snare, and toms, and it’s just pushing that — it’s getting nice and louder. [laughs] It’s got a nice little crescendo there.

Let’s check that one more time with a little pre-roll.


Very cool. We already touched on the width on the all music buss. There was — I can’t remember, did I tell you guys that I put cymbal samples in? Please forgive me if I didn’t.

Well I did. I went to the That Sound libraries that I had. I think this was Ben Phillips. I grabbed a 20 inch crash ride and an 18 inch. I was just going for the darkest that I could get. I pulled open the overheads, I soloed them…


That’s really chill. I mean, he barely tickled the ride cymbal there, but I went ahead and enhanced it with some deeper cymbal.


Okay. Let’s go to a section where there’s a few of them. Maybe out here would be cool. Let’s listen with no cymbal samples.

[mix, no samples]

And then with them.

[mix with samples]

I was not looking for these to take over the song and be too impactful. I wanted them to be subtle. I found the darkest ones I could in the bundle and drug ’em in — drug ’em in, dragged ’em in… And I panned them left.

This one kind of to the left, just off center to the left. Then this one just off center to the right to compliment what was already there in the overheads.
So those were the cymbals. Snare bottom automation, drum crush automation, then the very last note before I’m going to bounce mix one is I went to each of the sections of the song, and I listened to the bass, the acoustic, the guitars, I just tried to feel out anything that the musicians were doing that both complimented the arrangement and were fills. Listening for any little fancy licks or anything that they did, and they definitely had some guitar. Both guitars, the piano, and the acoustic all contributed these little fills.

Here’s an example.


Cool. Then you’ll hear that here.


So I’m riding automation there. I actually just drew it in with breakpoints, but usually I have my controller and kind of perform those a little bit.


David Glenn

David Glenn is a producer/engineer/musician based out of Orlando, FL. Credits include: Pablo Villatoro, Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew), Aimee Allen, and more. Learn more and get in touch at