Let’s cut to the chase: automation is not a revolutionary idea. 

However, it’s one of the few things that amateur engineers tend to forget about. 

In this guide, we’re going to look at some of our favorite automation tips to help bring your mix to life!

Table Of Contents:

What Is Automation?

Automation refers to the automatic control of various parameters during the recording, mixing, or production process. 

It allows precise adjustments to be made over time without manual intervention, so you can make your music more dynamic! There are plenty of ways to automate a mix, including volume automation, pan automation, EQ automation, time-based automation, and instrument parameter automation.

Dynamic Volume Control

One of the most popular forms of automation is dynamic volume control.

With volume automation, you can highlight specific musical phrases or sections within your song. 

For instance, during a chorus, you might bump the lead vocals and certain instruments to emphasize them, while in a quieter verse, you can decrease the volume to create a sense of intimacy.

Panning Effects

With panning automation, you can move your sounds across the stereo spectrum to give your mix a sense of motion and energy.

With precise panning automation, you can establish a clearer and more well-defined soundstage, placing your elements in specific locations within the stereo field to mimic the arrangement of a live performance. 

It’s also a great way to guide the listener’s attention. You might choose to pan a lead vocal to the center during a chorus for added impact and then spread it wider during the verse to blend with supporting instruments.

Filter Sweeps and EQ Changes

Modulating filters or EQ over time is another great way to introduce a sense of movement and evolution in your mix. 

You can control the tonal balance of individual instruments or the overall mix as the song progresses, automate filters or EQ to highlight specific frequencies or dial in filter sweeps to make transitions more exciting. 

For example, you can emphasize the top-end of a guitar solo or boost the low end of the bass during a chorus to make it hit harder.

Reverb and Delay Tailoring

Tweaking reverb and delay can turn a flat track into a sonic masterpiece, much like adding spices to a dish. Imagine you’re painting with sound, using automation to add depth here or echo there. It’s all about creating that perfect auditory illusion of space.

Let’s say you have a dry lead vocal in a verse, but when the chorus comes around, you want it to open up. You can automate it into a cathedral-like reverb to elevate it. 

You might even consider pulling back on reverb during build-ups to give the hooks more punch when they come in. 

Dialing in these changes requires precision—a heavy hand could drown your mix or make it feel disjointed. However, by automating these effects carefully, you can keep your audience hooked without them knowing why.

Instrument Parameters

Automating virtual instrument parameters is a key technique in electronic music production and sound design. 

Tweaking the knobs on a virtual synth can add a more human touch to your music.

Let’s say you’re playing around with filter cutoff, resonance, or oscillator settings; automating these elements can introduce expressive nuances and evolving textures that keep listeners hooked.

Without automation, your VST instruments can sound predictable and safe.

Tempo Adjustments

One of the best ways to throw your listeners a curveball is with a tempo change. Think of it like shifting gears in a sports car. Automation is the way to make it happen.

Start by setting up keyframes at different sections along your timeline or make drastic and sudden tempo changes when a new section hits. 

The real kicker comes when these adjustments serve up unexpected delights, especially in genres that don’t march to the beat of just one drum. 


So, you’ve seen how automation can breathe life into your mix. Start with volume control to hit every note just right. Then move on to panning for that all-encompassing sound.

Don’t forget the magic of EQ changes and filter sweeps—they’re game changers in dynamic mixing. And when it comes to reverb and delay, precision is key; tailor these effects meticulously for depth that resonates.

Tweak those instrument parameters! It’s about making each track sing its own tune. Play around with tempo adjustments—these shifts could be what sets your song apart.

If this sparked a fire in you, and you want more info to take your mixes from ‘meh’ to ‘mind-blowing’, Mix Elite Academy is here to help. We have a treasure trove of Premium Courses at your fingertips, including 320+ in-depth lessons, top-Tier Sample & Preset packs, and a large community of pro musicians.