Home Music Production CoursesCompression 4 Ways to Use Sidechain Compression in any DAW

4 Ways to Use Sidechain Compression in any DAW

by MMP

Will from EDM Tips will show you 4 ways to use sidechain compression in Ableton or any DAW, to achieve power, clarity and punch in your tracks.

Using Sidechain Compression

Oh, you’re looking for a way to make your song’s bass “pop”? You’re wondering if you should use stereo imaging on your vocals? For an in-depth view of the techniques that professional producers use, check out this post! It will help answer any questions you might have about sidechain compression and how it can be used to improve your mix.

It’s true that a lot of musicians still don’t know what sidechain compression is. With these four uses, though, even the most noobiest of noobs can get an idea of this technique’s impact on sound.

The challenge of many easy-listening/radio-friendly songs is that they’re quite compressed in the mix. Whether it’s because they’re recorded with a compression plugin or they just need to make their bass work better, these instruments are overdrived and can end up sounding a bit lifeless.

When you start to open up the mix, your song may sound really thin (especially on the low end) and lack definition. You’ll get a tighter low end too if you add more bottom end, but that’s not always something you want. Sidechain compression can be used to solve these problems! Here are some tips on how you can use sidechain compression to make your songs sound their best:

Use Sidechain Compression On Bass (Or Bass Synths)
“Bass should be dynamic, punchy and impactful. So, of course I’m going to use sidechain compression on the bass.” — Arjun Kanungo

This is a very common situation where we hear the bass end up being compressed. If something seems too loud when it’s played, there’s usually a reason for that. Unwanted low frequencies can come from two main sources: the bass itself or a synth that’s been sent through a compressor too often.

Comments on Sidechain Compression

Can you also use the eq filter on the compressor to only sidechain the attack aka high frequencies of the kick right?

I’m not sure how to ask this question correctly but here goes. If the DAW I have doesn’t have plugins with a sidechain switch/button (e.g. Cubase Elements 10) what solution should I use? Based on a recommendation I looked for the Andrei Kruss Multisidechain compressor, but couldn’t find it anywhere online. I have a few plugins with with external sidechain function like the Fabfilter Pro C2 but can’t seem to figure out how to access the compressor’s external input. Any suggestions?

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