Sidechaining is a crucial tool in music production. The concept is simple: attenuate the volume of one sound when another plays. But… why do we need sidechaining?
The most common application for sidechain compression is lowering the volume of a bass channel when a kick drum plays. You may or may not know this, but kick drums and bass instruments operate in the same frequency ranges.
So, the areas we sidechain a bass to decrease in volume when a kick drum plays is so that our low end doesn’t become muddy or too busy!
How to Sidechain in FL Studio
- First, select your kick drum channel in the mixer section. You’ll know if you’ve selected it as it’ll highlight itself.
- Second, right click on the arrow at the bottom of the bass channel you want to be attenuated. In the pop up menu, click “Sidechain to this track”. This sidechains your kick drum channel toyour bass and lets the enxt stage happen. Make sure you keep the send dial at the bottom of the sub channel at 0. If you raise this knob, you’ll be sending volume to the sub channel from the kcik channel – this is not what we want.
- Back on your sub bass channel, insert the Fruity limiter plugin. Leave the limiter section alone and click down onto the compression (comp) section.
- Over on the right of “comp” you’ll see the sidechain menu. Right click and select the channel that you want the limiter to sidechain the sub to. As we have already used the FL mixer to sidechain the sub to the kick, Fruity Limiter will detect the channel in question.
- In Fruity Limiter, turn down the “Threshold” and turn up the “Ratio” control until you hear the sub sidechaining to the kick.
How to Sidechain in Ableton
- Grab the compressor plugin and drag it onto your bassline channel. Click on the “Simple View” for easier use.
- To acivate the sidechain fucntion, click on the triangle in the top left of the compressor plugin and the sidechain section will come up.
- Press “sidechain” so it lights up, and in the “Audio From” drop down click the channel you want to sidechain to.
- Decrease the threshold so that you can hear some sidechaining!
How to Sidechain in Logic Pro X
- Insert a compressor plugin to the bassline channel.
- In the top right corner of the compressor plugin, you’ll see “Side Chain” with a drop down menu next to it. Select it, and in the drop down menu head to “Instrument” and from there your inout channel (kick drum).
- Now the compressor will only act when the kick comes through.
- Now, you can adjust your attack release, threshold, and ratio settings to taste.
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