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Q: “What are motorized faders for in a mixer? Do they mix and make good sound automatically?”

Hm... a mixer that makes good sound automatically. That's what we are all looking for isn't it..?

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A Audio Masterclass visitor asks, “What are motorized faders for in a mixer? Do they mix and make good sound automatically?”

Well yes, there is such a thing as a mixer that makes good sound automatically. That would be one of the very few 'first-call' mix engineers who are most in demand and turn out hit records day after day. Just send them your multitrack and get back the perfect mix. Oh, don't forget the $2000 a track or more they can charge.

For the rest of us however, the idea of a piece of hardware or software that could analyze a track and come up with the perfect mix is intriguing.

If such a device or software existed, you would probably be able to select 'In the style of...' from a simple drop-down menu.

Sadly, the day when that will be possible is far off. And if everyone had it, then the competition would be so much tougher.

No, the purpose of motorized faders is as part of the mix automation system. The engineer decides how the faders should be set, which should be moved, at what times in the song and by how much. The automation system remembers every move so that the engineer is free to refine and add as much as he or she likes. In the old days before automation the engineer had to remember every move!

Some systems play back the mix using 'invisible fingers' on motorized faders. Some don't, and on some you can switch the motors off. Whether you prefer to see the faders move or not depends on the individual engineer.

Fully automated mixing though... A fascinating thought.

By David Mellor Thursday November 30, 2006
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