3 Steps To Get A Killer Sidechain

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One of the most important things I learned in production is: as long as you want to make a quality club house track you got to make it pumping.

I tried a lot of effects and settings before finding the final and accurate sidechain I would never leave for my productions and remixes. But before getting to that point I needed a little bit of theory:

Side-chaining uses the signal level of another input or an equalized version of the original input to control the compression level of the original signal. (source: Wikipedia)

That’s all you need to know! Basically, if you want to make your synth channel pump, you will need to apply a signal that will compress your channel on the beat.

For me, a good sidechain is making the overall mix pump without crushing the instruments and the stereo.

Step 1: Choose the right signal

Click

This is the signal I use to apply sidechain on the channels of my track. Just a metronome click.

  1. I create an audio channel called « Click » to put my click loop.
  2. I create a bus called « Sidechain » that will receive the sidechain signal… I will root the channels I want to sidechain to that bus.

dB D Dynamic ProcessorStep 2: Choose the right compressor

As a compressor, I use the same effects for years.

This is a 39$ effect you will never leave: dB-D Dynamic Processor by Db Audioware.

  1. I add this effect to my « Click » channel to send the signal. I put the Gain button to « Mute » and the Send button to « A ».
  2. I add this effect to my « Sidechain » bus to receive the signal. I put Thresh to « -30.0 », Ratio to « LIMIT », Attack to « 0.5 », Decay to « 100 », Knee to « 1.5 » and RECV to « A ».

You can also play with the overall compression settings by normalizing the Click loop, this will increase the compression.

Step 3: Choose the right mastering

As far as I remember, I didn’t have to use more than two separate sidechain buses on my tracks.

For example, on my remix of Itajai Vibes I used two sidechain buses:

  1. A bus for the bassline only to keep it warm, powerful and pumping without crushing other elements.
  2. Another bus for the other elements.

In the case you want to create more than one sidechain bus you repeat exactly the same manipulation but the buttons Send and Recv are to be set to « B », or « C », etc…