You want to create a “pumping effect” (also called “ducking”) with each bass drum hit of your song, but don’t know how to proceed? First of all, let’s define what a sidechain is:
A sidechain is a mechanism for connecting two audio processing chains together so that one chain can influence the other. Sidechain is often used in audio sequencers to create compression and ducking effects, i.e. to reduce the volume of a track when another track is played, an effect often used in electronic music to create a heavy effect with each beat.
Now that the basics are established, let’s see what you can do with it.
How to create a Sidechain effect in a sequencer?
First of all, you need to create two audio tracks in your sequencer. One of these tracks will be used as a sidechain source, i.e. it will send a control signal to the other track. The other track will be the target track, i.e. it will be affected by the sidechain.
Next, you need to configure the sidechain using your sequencer settings. In most sequencers, you will need to select the target track and activate the sidechain using a menu option or by clicking on a dedicated button
You will also need to select the sidechain source track and configure the sidechain parameters, such as attack and release delay, compression ratio, etc.
Once you’ve set up the sidechain, you can start using the effect. To do this, you need to record or import audio on both tracks. When you play the sidechain source track, it will send a control signal to the target track, which will be affected accordingly
For example, if you use the sidechain to create a compression effect, the target track will be compressed every time the source track is played.
It is possible to filter the frequencies of the source track to be used for the sidechain so that only a frequency range between, for example, 20Hz and 200Hz is used in order to target the bass drum of a drum track for example.
In practice, here is what it looks like with an example of sidechain compression in Logic Pro :
In what other cases should I use Sidechain?
Sidechain is a very useful tool for creating dynamics effects in audio compositions, but it can also be used in many other ways
For example, you can use sidechain to synchronize two tracks so that they play at the same time, or to create panning effects by varying the amplitude of one track in relation to another
The possibilities are almost endless, and sidechain is an essential tool in the toolbox of any electronic music producer.
To sum up, the sidechain is a versatile tool available to both sound engineers and electronic music lovers to create a “pump effect” (called “Ducking”) but can also be used to control another effect, such as a Reverb for example. It will be possible to experiment and find new ways to use the sidechain by letting your creativity run free. Now, get to your plugins!