EDM Production Tip: Ducking Synth Melodies using Sidechaining

Ducking is a popular technique used in EDM music to apply percussive processing to pads, leads, and bass lines using side-chains on compressors. This technique is also used as a method for getting bass and drum passages to subtly fit together in mixes. In order to successfully apply ducking to your track you must have the following:

  • Compressor inserted on a pad or lead track with side-chain capabilities
  • Percussive source to key the side-chain

First, grab a kick drum sample and align it to the desirable rhythm you need.  Next, insert a compressor onto your synth lead or pad track.  Afterwards insert a send on the sampled kick drum track and set the send to “Pre-fader”. In SONAR, deselecting the [Post] button enables pre-fader sends.  Mute the kick drum sample and turn up the gain on the send.

Once you have the signal flow set, enable the Sidechain on the Compressor.  Now, every time the kick drum sample plays the Side-Chain will trigger the compressor and “Duck” the signal.  You can set the compressor using the Threshold, Attack, and Release settings to shape the kind of effect you want.

Try it yourself with the SONAR X2 Producer free 30-Day trial.

The Fine Print III: Sidechaining in SONAR

The term ‘sidechaining’ refers to the manipulation of one signal by another where signal B (typically referred to a key input) effects signal A (primary input). Sidechaining is most often found in compressors, limiters and gates. Examples of sidechaining include ducking, voiceover, de-essing and pumping. For more information, check out this article on the Basics of Sidechaining.

Cakewalk’s CTO Noel Borthwick discusses the implementation of Sidechaining in SONAR is his latest Fine Print article. Since version 7, SONAR has supported side-chaining for both VST and DX plug-ins in all of its applications. This article describes how SONAR communicates with side-chain capable VST and DX plug-ins as well as how SONAR can be used as a guide to write a side-chain capable plug-in of your own.

Remix Magazine: AudioSnap, V-Vocal, Sidechaining in SONAR 8

In this video series, Remix Magazine goes under the hood of SONAR 8. Cakewalk’s Product Specialist Seth Perlstein leads this master-class exploring the new enhancements made to Audiosnap, V-Vocal and Sidechaining in the platform’s latest update.

Learn more about SONAR 8 here.