The Art of Sidechaining…

Possibly the most useful technique for getting your sounds to interact with one another is sidechaining.  This is used extensively in electronic music, and as well as gelling the sounds it also helps prevent those unwanted peaks in volume when two instruments sound at the same time.  Often a kick drum is used as the sidechain source for a compressor.  This gives the kick more presence as the compressed sounds will be pushed out of the way when the kick hits, giving the listener the impression that the kick is louder – almost always a good thing!
Sidechaining in Live 8 is easy.  Just drop a compressor on the channel with the sound you are wanting to ‘duck’ out of the way when the other sound source (e.g. the kick drum) hits.  Click the little arrow on the top left to show the sidechain menu, and switch it on.  Then select the channel with the source you wish to use.  Now play both sounds.  The threshold is set to 0dB on the compressor, meaning no compression.  Now lower the threshold and you will begin to hear the impact of the sidechain on the sound.  The effect will be easier to hear when something with a sharp attack, like a drum, is used as the sidechain and a continuous note, like a string, is used for the compressed sound.  Altering the attack, release and ratio will change the start, duration and impact of the compression, respectively.  You can here the threshold being reduced in the audio sample from 8 seconds.
A similar process can be applied using the Live 8 auto-filter.  The ‘envelope’ setting on the auto filter determines how the filter is applied.  The attack and release change the start and duration of the sidechain effect in the same way as with the compressor.  The effect of the auto filter can be heard 24 seconds into the audio sample. Have a play around, that’s the best way to learn!

Possibly the most useful technique for getting your sounds to interact with one another is sidechaining.  This is used extensively in electronic music, and as well as gelling the sounds it also helps prevent those unwanted peaks in volume when two instruments sound at the same time.  Often a kick drum is used as the sidechain source for a compressor.  This gives the kick more presence as the compressed sounds will be pushed out of the way when the kick hits, giving the listener the impression that the kick is louder – almost always a good thing!

Sidechain compression in Live 8

Sidechain compression in Live 8

Sidechaining in Live 8 is easy.  Just drop a compressor on the channel with the sound you are wanting to ‘duck’ out of the way when the other sound source (e.g. the kick drum) hits.  Click the little arrow on the top left to show the sidechain menu, and switch it on.  Then select the channel with the source you wish to use.  Now play both sounds.  The threshold is set to 0dB on the compressor, meaning no compression.  Now lower the threshold and you will begin to hear the impact of the sidechain on the sound.  The effect will be easier to hear when something with a sharp attack, like a drum, is used as the sidechain and a continuous note, like a string, is used for the compressed sound.  Altering the attack, release and ratio will change the start, duration and impact of the compression, respectively.  You can here the threshold being reduced in the audio sample from 8 seconds.

Sidechaining with auto-filter in Live 8

Sidechaining with auto-filter in Live 8

A similar process can be applied using the Live 8 auto-filter.  The ‘envelope’ setting on the auto filter determines how the filter is applied.  The attack and release change the start and duration of the sidechain effect in the same way as with the compressor.  The effect of the auto filter can be heard 24 seconds into the audio sample. Have a play around, that’s the best way to learn!

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