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6.3.5. Automation

Automation of the DAW sounds like it might be an advanced topic, or something used to replace decisions made by a human. This is absolutely not the case - automation allows the user to automatically make the same adjustments every time a session is played. This is superior to manual-only control because it allows very precise, gradual, and consistent adjustments, because it relieves you of having to remember the adjustments, and because it allows many more adjustments to be made simultaneously than you could make manually. The reality is that automation allows super-human control of a session. Most settings can be adjusted by means of automation; the most common are the fader and the panner.
The most common method of automating a setting is with a two-dimensional graph called an envelope, which is drawn on top of an audio track, or underneath it in an automation track. The user adds adjustment points by adding and moving points on the graph. This method allows for complex, gradual changes of the setting, as well as simple, one-time changes. Automation is often controlled by means of MIDI signals, for both audio and MIDI tracks. This allows for external devices to adjust settings in the DAW, and vice-versa - you can actually automate your own hardware from within a software-based DAW! Of course, not all hardware supports this, so refer to your device's user manual.