Logic'’s Automation Modes Explained

Automation is literally one of the best things about modern music production software. Hopefully I don't sound old when I say that I can clearly remember using systems that had zero automation or call  

Automation is literally one of the best things about modern music production software. Hopefully I don't sound old when I say that I can clearly remember using systems that had zero automation or callback and it was, well... a nightmare!

Now we can record, automate and edit any movements we make on just about any parameter in our DAW. This is truly a great thing but there are a few pitfalls that you have to look out for. Here we take a look at understanding the various automation modes in Logic Pro.

Writing Automation

When writing your very first automation data to a freshly recorded or programmed track, you can use any of the three automation modes (write, latch and touch). Any of these modes will happily record your movements to the appropriate automation track.

So get your project playing, get into a write mode and start moving your levels, pans and plug-in parameters. When you're done you'll find that everything has been recorded and it's ready to use.

Why use Latch vs Write Mode?

So why then, you ask, has Logic got three write modes and when do we use them? Well, Latch mode is one of the most useful modes as it continues recording automation data when Logic is playing and you have finished moving the parameter/fader. It will also not write over any existing automation data until AFTER you move a parameter with your controller or mouse.

The more destructive Write mode should generally be avoided like the plague.

It does write automation data in the traditional sense but will wipe anything else that has been recorded on all tracks. Even Apple state in their manual that you will rarely need it and that "it is only there to complete the automation modes".

What is Touch Mode?

Touch mode is a really usable mode and is very similar to latch mode in that it is non destructive and leaves your recorded data intact when not adjusting the parameter in question.

Editor's Tip: Touch Mode essentially works like Read mode. All existing automation data will be read until you make a change to the parameter with a touch controller or your mouse. Once you release the mouse button or controller the existing automation data will be read.

Touch Mode is great if, for example, you want to automate the volume only in a chorus section... then as soon as you release the volume level fader, the fader will jump back to whatever the existing value was before you began applying automation.

Playing Things Back

Once you have recorded your automation playing it back is as simple as putting the track into 'Read' mode. Anything recorded will then playback as your project does. Simple.

Of course it's worth remembering that when in latch or touch modes your data will also playback, so this is yet another reason to use these modes over the more superfluous write mode.

Check out the Logic 101: Core Logic 9 tutorial for more Automation Tips and tricks and this blog tutorial for 5 Automation Power-User Tips and Tricks in Logic Pro!

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More

Discussion

Ben
So when would be a good situation to use write mode?

Thanks
Rounik
Hey Ben,

'Write' mode is great to use when you're 'recording' automation to a track for the first time.

Also, if you decide you wish to delete / overwrite all automation on all tracks... then use write mode! (It's safe to say I don't use write mode much!!)
Mo Volans
Hi Ben... The simple answer to your question is 'never' ;) To be honest it's only really there for legacy reasons and to tie in with controls on some dedicated control surfaces. Even the Logic manual suggests "it is only there to complete the automation modes"
Mo Volans
Haha, obviously Rounik and I disagree slightly here but he certainly makes a good point... saying that I think my 'write' mode will remain unused.
Ben
Thanks guys, very helpful!

I've been using logic through college for the past year but there's so much to learn!

Need to set aside more time for these tutorials me thinks!
Rounik
Glad you're finding these tuts useful Ben! Keep checking back daily - there's lots of good stuff in the pipeline...

@ Mo... I should've said "I don't use write mode EVER!!" Ha! Well, I'm sure I used it the once when I first used track automation in Logic and to my dismay the rest of the automation on my tracks disappeared ;-)
Peter Schwartz
I second the emotion of avoiding Write mode. I never use it. If you're starting a track and you want to write in initial volume levels, Latch is fine for that. And if you want to delete automation, there are much faster ways of doing that where you don't have to wait for your entire track to play down.
Gary Hiebner
Thanks for the great tut, Mo! Definitely be careful with write mode. Very easy to overwrite automation you may have spent hours doing.
Sullyblime
Hi Mo. If I automate the volume on a track, but then want to adjust the 'original' overall volume of the track, how can I do this while still maintaining the automation pattern?

For example, I automate a track to go up in volume that orignally started on -5. But then I decide to move the fader down to -8. But when I try that, the automation automatically snaps back to -5 every time. Thanks!

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