You may have heard of the term 'Sidechaining', or maybe you just wonder what it really is?
Sidechaining or 'Ducking'' usually involves a ghost kick or percussive element making space so other elements can really punch through your track.
I have mentioned before in blogs that all your musical elements need space to breathe in your track, your kicks need to be heard in the mix, sidechaining can make all the difference from muddy to clear when it comes to the mix.
Think of it like this, you are basically using the signal from one source as the input for an effect on another.
There are so many uses in all genres of music, and sidechaining is used in all of them, from reverb ducking effects in techno, house, trance to hip hop to drum and bass and dubstep, where it's a fav. in letting that Kick through instead of fighting the sub bass.
Once you understand the basics, I invite you to get experimental with it, sidechain tracks that have been sidechained, with effects like gates, compressors, filters for a more experimental sound. You will get some mad sh--t.
In case your wondering, you can use anything to sidechain, doesn't have to just be a kick. Experiment with loops and other percussion for interesting results and patterns.
This is also not limited to just a compressor device, you can sidechain with Multiband Dynamics, Auto Filter and a Gate (in regards to the gate, it reverses the process, making loud sounds quieter, it makes quiet sounds quieter, but that's another blog)
So let me show you how to do this as it's really easy.
Let's presume you have a track up.
select the kick channel and duplicate the channel.
Call it Ghost Kick
Turn the volume down on the duplicate ghost channel.
Add a Compressor on every track that you want sidechaining or being 'ducked' by the ghost kick. In this case Im adding it to the sub bass Channel.
Compressors usually go it at the end of the effects chain, (I like to put my Utility device last on the chain) but that can change if you are using reverb after the sidechaining, more for an effect rather than let's say letting a kick punch through more.
Open the sidechaining panel by clicking the small arrow just to the right of the power button
in the “Audio From” window, select ghost track kick and “Pre-FX”. The higher values demonstrate the effect more drastically so play around with them for yourself!
There are different views and you can get to them by clicking the icon just to the left of “Knee” this will give you the graphical screen, my fav because it shows the graph and how it tracks the compression, with the dark white shadow showing the compression and the yellow line showing the level of the instrument. If you want your sound with a smoother compression, less 'jagged peaks and more rounder shapes will give you that effect. Use your 'info' view to know what every parameter does, we all can read so I'll skip that part and spare you dying of boredom on me.
Examples of diff. views
Turn the ratio to maximum (though this can vary depending on what you are going for effect wise) and adjust attack/release/knee using your ears, I know it sounds obvious but this is the best way to find out how they affect the sound if your looking for punch - explore these parameters. You can also try playing with the output gain, for a bigger effect. Do you want to affect the tail or the beginning of the sound? There is no magic answer until you play around with them and listen.
For more dramatic effect, a short attack and release time , have this too high and you will barley hear the sidechaining. It's that 'Snap' you are after. If your release is too high it can just make your sound muddy. Every kick snr is different, again, use your ears, there are is no golden rules except less is more unless your going for that dramatic pumping effect.
That concludes this portion on Advanced tips with Ableton, Tune in next week for more in-depth tutorials and advanced production tips.