Greetings AV Community,

I was wondering if I could get some help with how to set-up a podcast in Logic Pro 9 or Mainstage 2?

I have a Korg nanoKontrol for controlling volumes, and a Focusrite 6i6 for the various inputs. There will be two mic inputs and a couple of line inputs for playing music. I have Logic Pro 9 and Mainstage 2 (unsure which is best for my needs).

What I want is the ability to record all the inputs and control the volume automation on each of the channels as I'm recording. This is to minimise post-production work, but retaining the ability to tweak volumes on the channels post-production incase there are some slip-ups.

Does anyone have any advice on how to get this to work? At the moment I only seem to be able to adjust the master volumes on the channels, and automation seems to be keyframe-based, so I can't get it working during recording.

Am I making any sense?

Question in a Nut Shell:

How do I use a midi controller to adjust volume automation on a track while recording in Logic/Main Stage/Garage Band such that I can do some basic live mixing for a podcast?

Clarification Update:

Any of the above software packages is fine. Don't need to know all of them - just want to achieve what I have outlined in the question, with any of the DAW's that I currently own.

  • It's difficult to answer a software question that's asking about three different software packages. Would vote to close as too broad, but questions with an open bounty don't allow close votes. Dec 16, 2013 at 4:51
  • @NeilFein And rightly so. How annoyed would you be to find a question you'd spent 50 of your reputation on had been closed because someone didn't have the ability to answer it? Before you downvoted, it had three upvotes. I don't think that constitutes as something that is in the running for a closure. Do you? Please see updated answer for clarification. Though I find it hard to believe that someone wouldn't take a stab at answering this question if they actually could.
    – shennan
    Dec 16, 2013 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


I haven't personally worked with Logic or Mainstage much, but the basic steps I'm outlining here seem to be fairly DAW-agnostic, and I have applied them in both Reaper and Ableton Live so I presume they work similarly. I'll talk about Logic here since that seems to be the more common choice.


There are a couple of basic ideas you're going to use here.

There's Automation, in which parameters (track volumes, in your case) are programmed to move independently of the audio recordings. Automation can set up by hand as a post-production step, or can be recorded in realtime, which is what you'll be doing. It sounds like you already understand this concept, but I'm including it here for completeness.

Then there's MIDI parameter control. This is where a parameter is tied to a given MIDI message, and its position continuously updates when that message arrives with a new value. By default your nanoKontrol sends MIDI Continuous Controller messages on each of its sliders, so you'll assign the corresponding message numbers.

The Basic Idea

You've probably intuited this already: for the volume of each track you're recording on, you want to assign the MIDI message to the corresponding nanoKontrol slider. So slider 1 controls Track 1 volume, slider 2 controls track 2, etc. Then, you need Logic to capture these updates as automations while you're recording your audio.

Straightforward enough, but how do we actually implement this?

First: Assign MIDI to track levels

Logic includes preset control surface support for a lot of MIDI controllers, but the nanoKontrol doesn't appear to be one of them, so you have to make those MIDI assignments yourself. According to the Logic 9 Control Surfaces Support Guide (that's a PDF link, relevant section is Chapter 2), you do this using the Controller Assignments window. Click the parameter to which you want to assign a MIDI message (so, in your case, one of the on-screen track faders), and:

Choose Logic Pro > Preferences > Control Surfaces > Learn Assignment for [parameter name]. (Alternately, you can use the Learn new Controller Assignment key command, default: Command-L, to open the Controller Assignments window, and activate Learn mode.)

The Controller Assignments window opens in Easy view, with the Learn Mode button activated. In most cases, the name of the selected parameter is shown in the Parameter field.

Move the hardware controller you want to assign to the selected parameter.

Once the window is open you can apparently keep clicking more parameters and moving more faders to assign them. There documentation describes some other modes you can use to do more elaborate things but this will suffice for getting those assignments made.

Second: Set up automation

(I'm basically copy/pasting from the Logic Manual's section on automation, so you can read that for more detail. The images are taken from that page.)

For each of your tracks that you want controlled by your controller, you need to set the automation mode. This is done using either track headers:

Selecting an automation mode from a track header

or from mixer channels:

Selecting an automation mode from a mixer channel

The mode you probably want is Latch, which means "overwrite automation when you move the parameter, and leave it where you put it when you let go." Since your MIDI controller is controlling that parameter, any movements on the controller should now be picked up as automation as you are recording.

That's it!

  • It's worth mentioning that I don't own Logic and so can't try this out myself, but the basic idea should be the same and the documentation seems to confirm that. If you can show that it's different somehow, please do edit the question with the correct information!
    – Warrior Bob
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:46
  • This answer is brilliantly thorough. I will try this later tonight and report back to you on progress, hopefully being able to mark as correct.
    – shennan
    Dec 16, 2013 at 19:32
  • I can confirm that this now works. Without sounding too disingenuous, this was actually what I had attempted before - without success. I assumed that if I somehow tied the controller to the volume automation it would allow me to adjust during recording. I failed, however, to change the automation mode, which I ignored completely (I have a childishly plug-and-play mentality). For those attempting this: always set the automation mode to Latch, as Warrior Bob suggests. Thanks again.
    – shennan
    Dec 17, 2013 at 0:41

One clumsy way to do it is by putting any sequencer between your Korg nanoKontrol and computer. Record once into the sequencer, and you will be able to "replay" the volume envelopes from the sequencer. My guess is that a hardware sequencer would be easier to set up in this scenario.

A more elegant solution would be to do it directly in your DAW but I'm unfamiliar with Logic Pro 9 and Mainstage 2. I use Adobe Audition which has "automation lanes" on which you can set envelopes for volume, pan etc. You can do so without the track being populated with recorded clips (note that the edit points and envelopes are not the same ones as shown on the recorded "clip" itself). Once you set these, you can save the "multitrack session", and use it as a template for future recordings. I guess the process would be similar with your software. Search the help for "Envelope".

  • Hi Louis, thanks for the answer. Unfortunately I was hoping to do this without spending any more money. (I don't have Adobe Audition or a sequencer). Id' be very surprised if this is not doable with my current stack. Perhaps AV Production is the wrong place to ask about Apple DAW's?
    – shennan
    Dec 16, 2013 at 12:30
  • Also, just to clarify, I want to be able to play with the volume of each input during the recording process as well as afterwards. Have been looking into "Envelope"s but haven't yet found anything that has helped. Thanks again.
    – shennan
    Dec 16, 2013 at 12:39
  • Hi shenan, there are quite some freeware sequencers out there. Unfortunately the nanoKontrol does not have motorized faders, so you're bound to get some jerks and jumps if you use automation and live tweaking together (unless very careful planning and pre-positioning of the faders is done). I don't think there is a freeware DAW that supports track envelopes (as opposed to clip envelopes), but you might find one. I think it's easier to do the mixing after the recording.
    – Louis Somers
    Dec 16, 2013 at 17:35
  • Forgive my ignorance, but I'm surprised to find that there is no way to control the volume of input tracks via the DAW using MIDI on the way in. Isn't this the whole point of a DAW? Bringing the capabilities of a mixer to a software level?
    – shennan
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:00
  • Offcourse you can control the volume using MIDI, even on the fly while recording. However, using automation (a midi sequencer for example) you would have two sources controlling one parameter, so when they are not lined up you will get jumps and jerks when the last one to send a "change volume to this level signal" switches from device to device. In most cases you would want to record the live settings, and tweak them afterwards in the DAW, which is something different than automating them beforehand. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question? Not my intention to frustrate you.
    – Louis Somers
    Dec 16, 2013 at 18:50

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