Have you ever looked sideways
in wonderment at the "sidechain input" or "key
in" jacks on your compressor / limiters or noise gates? These
sidechain inputs will help you achieve De-essing, Ducking, Keyed
Gating, and more. Let's examine these options one at a time:
De-essing can be defined as frequency selective compression or
limiting. To control sibilance on vocals, hi-hats, cymbals, and
other screetchy sounding sources the compressor must be instructed
to act on frequencies between approximately 2K to 8K. To
do this, follow these steps: First patch the compressor on the
offending source as usual . Next, parallel the non-compressed
signal to another channel of EQ. Don't use the insert point or
feedback will occur, use a mult instead. If you have a patchbay
you can patch thru the EQ section of the channel only, bypassing
the fader and output busses. Patch this "EQ out" to
the "sidechain" or "Key" input on the compressor.
If your compressor features a "sidechain monitor" button,
punch it. If it doesn't, find a way to monitor the sidechain
EQ. (solo etc..) Now, boost frequencies between approximately
2K and 8K. That's right, make it sound really shrill and funky.
Sometimes I use the high-pass filter on our Neotek at Seagrape
Recording to filter everything below 500hz. Adjust the ratio and
threshold on the compressor to taste, (Maybe 4:1 with 3-6 db compression.)
The compressor will now be acting on the 2k-8k frequencies only.
You may even choose to roll out the mud, (300hz) on the original
signal channel or add sparkle (10k and up) to this source.
Ducking can be defined as one signal, or set of signals controlling
the limiting/compression of another signal, or set of signals.
Suppose you are doing a mixdown in which the producer specifies
that the almighty kick drum should take precedence over all other
tracks. With ducking, this is easily accomplished. Here's
First, de-assign all signals you wish to duck from the stereo
mix. Now send these signals via any post pan stereo aux send or
buss to your stereo compressor / limiter inputs. Return the limiter
outputs to two empty faders that are routed to the stereo mix.
Now send the kick drum signal via a patch point, aux send or buss
to the limiter's sidechain inputs. Depress the stereo interconnect
button on the limiter. Now, the only channels in the stereo mix
are kick drum itself and the returns of the stereo limiter. As
the kick hits, the whole mix "ducks" to accommodate
it depending on your limiter attack, release, ratio, and threshold
settings. You may choose to leave certain elements of the mix
unducked, such as the vocals. This ducking technique also works
great with voice-overs that have music intros and endings. When
no voiceover is present, the music will play unaffected. When
the V.O. kicks in, the music then ducks nicely around it. Experiment!
KEYED GATE CONTROL: Another
remix trick is to tightly gate the stings and then control that
gate with a track that has staccato rhythmic interest (like a
hi-hat) via the gates sidechain input. Then pile on the timed
(60000 divided by tempo in BPM = milliseconds) ping pong delays
and Presto! Instant techno-geekdom!