Tutorial Automation in Ardour


I would love to see a (video) tutorial about automation in Ardour

So if you have experience with automation and can make a (video) tutorial, it would be great!

“Touch” is the same as “play”, until you touch the fader. Then it’s like “write” mode. Think of it as a way to “touch up” automation that you’ve previously created.


do you mean track automation ?
I guess you want to know about the different “modes” : manual, play, write and touch.

If you have a track, click on the “a” button of the track header, select which kind of automation you want to edit and make sure you are in the “object mode” (type O in the main track canvas). The automation track should come up. This is where you will fiddle around with the automation curve.

The modes I use practically all the time are manual and play. In manual, you can create a curve manually, point by point by left-clicking in the automation track. But it won’t play the automation curve during active transport. For that, you need to go into “play” mode. You can stay in play mode and adjust the curve on the fly too by dragging a point (left-click an existing point + mouse drag), creating (left-click to the location you want), deleting (shift + right-click on point to be deleted) while the main transport is active…

There are mouse / keyboard tricks to manage the automation of a group of selected points. Some are intuitive, some you have to guess a bit or read some … ahem … manual :slight_smile:

I believe, the “write” mode is to record a curve on the fly by playing with the gain fader in realtime. So say you have a control surface device, with a fader button connected to the current track fader slider. In automation write mode, you can play around with the fader of your control surface and see the curve being written in real time.

All this is valid for other automation types (e.g. plugin parameters, or panning).

I am not sure what touch is about as I never used it.

Thanks, I can see how it works now :slight_smile:

You only didn’t tell what ‘touch’ mode means if I’m right…

I’m sure if I understand the visual wave display in combination with the automation line… maybe I should learn what a visual wave, displays actually.

Can and do they use automation on the master track?

Where do you use Automation for in general?

  • Cleaning the sound (remove gain overload, clipping or something)?
  • Adjust Volume of tracks?
  • Panning?
  • adjusting the plugin in different time frames on a track?

Do recording engineers use automation a lot in general?

automation can be used for different reasons, both aesthetic and corrective. You may have uneven recordings that you want to even up in terms of gain. You can also apply panning automation if you wish to have some audio going from one stereo end to the other, etc.

The whole point is to have all these effects repeatable every time you activate transport.

You can of course use automation curves on the master track, nothing prevents you from doing so, the master track is just another bus, it is just the end sink of your multitrack mix. But that’s also why you want to treat it with care :slight_smile:

Hi. This post is back from the dead:)
I have a question. It seems like i have to write some automation (playing back, and turning the volume fader up/down) before i am able to edit anything. If i dont write some automation, there is no blue line to edit. Only a black empty space. Is this normal?


Should be that you can go ahead and click in the automation track and a point will appear, click again a second point will appear with a line connecting them, etc.

PS I would just create a new thread in the future, this thread is 7 years old at this point:)


Thanks. And sure, I will make a new post if i have any other questions about this:) Thanks for taking the time to reply.

I just found this very interesting article on automation in Ardour here: http://brunoruviaro.github.io/ardour3-floss-tutorial/using-automation/