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Sidechaining FAQ

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by ahjteam, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    Since this questions seems to pop up sometimes, I decided to do a FAQ from the subject. Tell me if this is not clear enough and I will try to. Hope this tutorial helps you.

    WHAT IS SIDECHAINING AND HOW IT WORKS?

    In one sentence: Sidechaining is a process where signal B affects signal A.

    Longer version: Sidechaining is a method of dynamic range manipulation on devices/plugins, that (usually) do either expanding or compressing to the signal, like compressors and noisegates. Sidechaining requires two signals, signal A and signal B. Sidechaining is the action, where the dynamic range of signal B affects signal A. Signal A is the inputted signal that is being processed, signal B can be "anything".

    WHAT TYPES OF SIDECHAINING THERE IS?

    Sidechaining can be internal or external.

    Internal sidechaining: Most common example of internal sidechain is where signal B is a copy of Signal A, but has a highpass and/or lowpass filter (or another type of filter, called EQ) is applied to signal B and then Signal A is processed from data on the processed signal, signal B. This feature is commonly found on hardware noise gates nowadays (but usually not on the gate-comp-limiter combo units).

    External sidechaining: This feature is commonly found on hardware compressors nowadays, even the cheap Behringer ones have them. External sidechaining is where signal B is something else than signal A (it can be a copy of signal A, but don't tell it to the signal processor ;)).

    WHY DO I NEED SIDECHAINING?

    The same thing applies here as it does with everything: If you don't really know why you need it without asking someone, then you don't really need it. But here are some examples how you can use it: Ducking, Voiceover, Gating, De-essing and Pumping (remember Eric Prydz - Call On Me? That was sidechaining).

    EXAMPLE 1: Internal sidechaining on tomtom-drums
    You are mixing a liveshow for a metalband and the drummer has this huge drumkit with two kicks, two snares (you have to have the piccolo!), thirty seven cymbals and 12", 13", 14", 16", 18" and 20" toms. A modest kit for her. You have you favourite drum mics to close mic the toms. They sound awesome alone, but they get a lot of bleed from the cymbals, so you decide that you put a noisegate to the toms.

    The first three toms are a no problem, but then you have a problem then it comes to the last two floor toms. The just "boooooooooooom" a lot thru the mics, but you don't want to remove the bottom from the actual sound, because it just sounds AWESOME. You would have to set the threshold so high, that you would only pick up 40% of the hits on those toms if the drummer decides to hit them even slightly lighter than during the soundcheck.

    INTERNAL SIDECHAINING TO THE RESCUE! You remove everything below 300-400hz from the sidechain and you can set the threshold a lot lower and still get a lot of dynamics to the play.

    EXAMPLE 2: external sidechain on bassdrum and trigger
    You have recorded a drummer with the same huge kit in a studio. You notice that the kick mic sounds really good, but it gets huge bleed from rest of the kit. Using just the noise gate would only kill the attack from the sound, but SIDECHAINING AND TRIGGERS TO THE RESCUE! Of course you were a smart engineer and recorded the kick with a trigger too! Right? Don't say you forgot it, you little...

    Anyways, because the trigger itself sounds really disgusting, you really cant use it on mix (or actually you can, gives a nice extra click to the kick), but try to adjust the position of the trigger track so that its ~3-5 milliseconds before the actual kick. Then you can use the noise gate so, that the trigger opens the gate on the kick and you wont lose any of the attack. Just remember to adjust the attack and release so that it sounds good.

    EXAMPLE 3: Making room for the kick in the subs
    You have (again) recorded the same drummer and the tracks were booming, money maker sound! Then you record rest of the band and they sound like gold record too. But when you start to mix the record, you notice that the bass and the kickdrum are battling for the sub-bass area real hard, but you really don't want to lose either of them. SIDECHAINING AND MULTIBAND COMPRESSOR TO THE RESCUE!

    Put a multiband compressor to the bass and use only the lowest section of it and put the crossover to 250hz (I suggest you check with a frequency analyzer from the kick-track, how low/high you need to put the crossover, 250 is just an example on this tutorial) and use the kick-track as a sidechain, to make the subs of the bass to duck on the kick beats. Remember to set the attack and release pretty fast, or you might get a bit too much pumping. If you don't have a multiband compressor with a sidechain, a fullband have to do then.

    EXAMPLE 4: 80s sound to the snare / more bottom end to the kick
    You got yourself a triple platinum from the last band and then the drummers second band comes in to record their band, (too bad) they are really 80s hair metal band, so they don't even want the drums to sound natural, they want that 80s vibe to it. NO WORRIES; SIDECHAINING AND SIGNAL GENERATORS TO THE RESCUE!

    You need to make a new bus and you insert a signal generator plugin to it, that can make either white noise or pink noise, pick your poison. TIP: to save yourself from the pain, turn your monitors low or mute/turn the channel volume really low before entering the plugin. Then put a sidechain gate before that and put the snare to open the track and you have that full range 80s "swoosh" snare.

    Also if your kick is lacking in the subs, test this same signal generator method on the kick, but use a 50hz sine and kick as the sidechain (again, check the dominant frequency from the kick with a frequency analyzer and use that).

    EXAMPLE 5: De-essing the vocals
    You recorded the most awesome performance on earth on that particular song. As they say that performance before audio quality, but the quality is HORRIBLE because he didn't use a pop-filter, the hissing is almost intolerateable. NO PROBLEM; SIDECHAINING AND EQ TO THE RESCUE.

    Duplicate the vocal track and on the duplicate use an EQ and boost 10dB the most offending frequencies (for example 3k and 5k usually aren't nice) then use it as the sidechain, remember to use very very fast attack and release so that it cuts only the hissing and not anything else.

    YOU GOT ME EXCITED AND I WET MYSELF. WHERE CAN I FIND SIDECHAIN HARDWARE AND PLUGINS?

    Hardware you can buy from your local audiostores and eBay. For the plugins, see list I compiled here: http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2664802

    See your DAWs manual how to setup and use sidechaining, some have it very easily on the routing (like in Logic and Pro Tools), but for example in Cubase you have to use (quadro-)groups for the (stereo)sidechaining:



    Also more on the subject:

    http://www.omega-art.com/logic/faq/html/faq22.htm
     
    #1 ahjteam, Jun 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  2. garry666

    garry666 Member

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    Good explanation dude. STICKY.
     
  3. 006

    006 Mike G

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    Fuckin' golden.

    That is all. :kickass:

    ~006
     
  4. ElektricEyez

    ElektricEyez Member

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    Very good explanations, thank you!

    This needs to be a sticky!
     
  5. Tommy Gun

    Tommy Gun ...might be drunk.

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  6. Pot

    Pot Member

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    good job :)
     
  7. SpewChunks

    SpewChunks Member

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    Cheers for this!, nothin' better than some sticky info.
     
  8. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    Wow, just trying out triggering a gate from a trigger track - really cool stuff! Should have tried this ages ago!
     
  9. Petrocker

    Petrocker Member

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    Wow, thank you! :worship:
     
  10. JonWormwood

    JonWormwood Member

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    Damn awesome.
     
  11. Saculus

    Saculus Member

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  12. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    and video for Reason:

     
    #12 ahjteam, Jun 23, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  13. beyond dead

    beyond dead heavy metal dad \m/

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    any uses for sidechaining compressor/ limiter on master bus?
     
  14. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    But for rock/metal? No.

    I also forgot to mention that vocoder is basically a method of sidechaining too.
     
    #14 ahjteam, Jun 25, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  15. lordtech

    lordtech Member

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    Cool stuff~
    how about sidechaining using Sonar? video perhaps...
     
  16. Metaltastic

    Metaltastic Member

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  17. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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  18. colonel kurtz

    colonel kurtz Member

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    man, i don't know if that's the same vid i watched on cubase sidechaining, but if it is, let me put it in a nutshell so that you don't waste 12 minutes of your life stumbling through the video:

    1)add a group channel...make it a quadro channel
    2)go into the setup menu for the groups - don't remember the keystroke right now 'cause i'm drunk, but you'll want to add 2 child groups - one for L/R, one for Ls/Rs
    3)insert a stereo comp. onto the quadro group that accepts sidechain inputs
    4)send the key input to Ls/Rs
    5)set the output of the track you want to compress to the L/R of the quadro group...now whenever the key input hits, the track being outputted to the quadro will be ducked under it

    if i messed any of that up, just let me know and i'll fix it later...and place the blame on seagram's 7
     
  19. Student

    Student Member

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    To the point!
     
  20. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    You could've pressed play and notice that the video was 2:48 long and atleast for me it took me less time to watch the video than to read your explanation. But thanks for the trouble :)
     

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