VCA and automation

Is what the chap is doing going to work in Ardour? Can I use the VCA to adjust the overall volume of tracks under it, without messing up automation on them?

Yes you can.

Note however, if you use automation on the VCA and then later disconnect the VCA from the track, the VCA’s automation is applied to the track’s Fader automation.

In other words: Assigning and un-assigning a track to/from a VCA does not change the sound.

Right, that would probably work then. I was thinking of say, I have 10 bits of the track where I raise the fader a bit for a beat, then found I needed to raise the overall level, that would mean moving up 20 automation points. So I was hoping to use the VCA to shortcut that, and use its fader to raise the overall track level with all its automation points.

I’ve also seen suggestions to automate a gain plugin on the track instead of the fader.

And I wondered if I could make some extra busses as another way around it, so …

Guitar Track 1 + 2 > Guitar Bus Automation > Guitar Bus Fader

The VCA thing seemed like it might be a nicer way than that.

While you can accomplish this using both busses and VCAs, I would approach it like this:

  1. Use a bus for shared processing (Compression, EQ, etc.)

  2. Use a VCA for shared mixing (Level changes)


Sorry, slightly off-topic, but actually not fully.
Until this day I am unable to find a good use case for a VCA that I cannot handle with a sub-bus.

I certainly understand the history of hardware consoles and how it would be benefitial in an analogue environment, but I was under the impression that with 32 bit data in the digital world there wouldn’t be any problem in using another volume fader extra to the individual track faders.
Even the related section in Bobby Owsinsky’s Mixing Engineer’s Handbook could not convince me.

Maybe I am missing some big secret here. Or maybe that’s why I’m never really happy with my mixes. Should use VCAs :slight_smile:

Sorry for jumping in - but I did not think that my questions would justify another thread.

It isn’t necessarily a technical issue, it is a workflow issue.

Ill give one example, and my background is live audio, though it is something I use in the studio as well.

I have multiple vocals, all run through a single reverb unit. I use a single reverb so I can change it once and have it change on all vocals at once. This is typically a post fade send obviously. In studio this owuld be easily accomplished by having sends to a bus with a reverb. Ok now I decided I want to mix these vocals lower, I can grab the vocal bus and bring it down, but lets assume it was a lead vocal and backup vocals, now that is two busses I am adjusting, or maybe it is a more choral number and I am sending Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass and bussing them down, so that it is a minimum of 4 busses I need to adjust.

But then if I adjust those busses down, the sends that are post fader on the individual tracks, are not adjusted, so the send to the reverb, stays the same, and now my wet/dry mix is screwed up, and I need to adjust that bus as well. Even worse if I also have delay, or a second verb, etc.

Compare to a VCA, where I can still keep the same bussing structure if I want, but I have a single fader that will bring down the fader on all the input channels effectively, thereby also adjusting the levels to those sends, and it doesn’t matter how I bus those channels out, I can have a single fader to adjust it.

That is the most common usage, there are other use cases I do (Double assigning VCAs on occasion etc. for more complex situations)


Yup, I think I understand this scenario. Thanks for the explanation

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