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Old 23rd September 2019
Gear Nut

I'm not at my DAW at the moment, but I believe that the first method is changing the gain at the track level, before it hits the mixer, whereas the automation gain is changing the fader position. If you look at the plugin section of the strip, you have fader, EQ and comp, which can be re-ordered if needed. By default the fader is last and in that position any fader gain changes would not affect compressor action.

Another way of "pre-trim" is to use clip gain, which can be done pretty quickly. Use the range tool to select a range, split and then ALT+6, ALT+7 to change the gain up or down in 1dB increments. I've found this helpful for tightening up vocal and bass tracks.