How does sidechain compression work in Live?


i read in a magazine that sidechain compression works really good to get this kind of "pumping" beats, that you can hear in all house and electro tracks from today. How do i get this kind of sound in Ableton?


[jor] 6 years ago | 0 comments

3 answers

  • nebulae
    11 answers
    64 votes received
    43 votes

    Sidechain compression is a hugely important topic. When done right, it can add great bouncy punch to your low end and sound very musical. When abused right, it can turn you into a Daft worldwide French house phenomenon. When done wrong, it can make your mix worse. 

    To understand sidechaining, you have to understand compression a bit. Compression is the reduction of a signal by a certain number of factors. These factors include a threshold, the crossing of which engages the compressor, which can then reduce (or attenuate) the audio via a certain amount. That amount is often a ratio of the signal. You can also control how quickly the compressor will act (attack) and how quickly it will stop the signal reduction once it has been engaged (release).

    Sidechaining is basically using another signal to engage a compressor to attenuate the signal you compressing. The signal you are typically trying to attenuate is the bass, and you're typically trying to do that with a kick drum. Doing so allows you to not have the two signals compete for the same frequency range. Done right, the bass and kick will play off each other and feel more glued together, and your overall mix will sound nice and punchy instead of phased and muddy.

    You can follow the video above for an excellent How To by Huston. Keep an eye on the attack and release parts of the compressor. You typically want a quick attack and a quick release, so that when the kick and bass are playing together, you barely notice that the bass was attenuated at all. This is commonly used in genres (other than French house) where the effect is subtle and musical, such as rock. In French house, as the video suggests, you can make the effect more pronounced by increasing the release time. 

    Also, I suggest that after you've set up your sidechain, solo the bass and listen. Live's compressor, typically set to FB2, sometimes introduces small pops in sidechain mode. You can get around this by switching to the FB1 mode. Also, the solo will help you hear the bass as it is being compressed. Then reintroduce the kick in the mix to gauge how the two are working together. 

    One final comment: If you want that heavy French house sound, you might consider sidechaining more than just the bass. Often times, sidechaining the kick to mid-range sounds can produce great results. A common technique I hear lately is to take a big stab sound, put through reverb, and then introducing the sidechain on the reverbed signal. This creates a dramatic cutting of the reverbed stab, and makes a great effect on dance music.

    6 years ago | 1 comment
  • [jor] Ableton staff
    1 answer
    9 votes received
    9 votes

    Hey, there's a good tutorial on youtube how to get this kind of thing:

    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • jd mink
    1 answer
    2 votes received
    2 votes

    WooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOW ha ha haaa!Every time I learn something new from you guys I love this application more and more.Well,there are many applications out there but to me ABLETON grooves the groove.Tim

    5 years ago | 0 comments

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