Whenever your are struggling to merge signals that are competing for attention in the same frequency region, smart:comp can help you out with spectral ducking in sidechain mode.
Note: We replaced smart:comp with smart:comp 2! The spectro-dynamic compressor now sports sound-shaping option, an entire range of new profiles (single tracks, buses, mixes), a free-form transfer function with compression templates, states, mid/side processing, … and much more.
Are you familiar with the challenge to merge e.g. a key track with a vocal track? It can be quite difficult to keep the voice in the limelight without it overshadowing the keys. Using smart:comp’s frequency-dependent ducking ensures that potential spectral clashes are resolved by only compressing affected frequency regions of the input signal. This way smart:comp neatly creates space for the sidechain signal.
Take a look at our sidechain tutorial video or the step-by-step instructions below to learn more about smart:comp’s sidechain ducking.
Step 1: Route a sidechain signal and switch to sidechain ducking
After routing the external sidechain in your DAW of choice, switch on sidechain ducking.
You’ll immediately notice a few changes: The color of all blue control elements will turn turquoise and the sidechain signal will be displayed, with the input meter showing the sidechain level.
Step 2: Start the learning
Clicking the record button will set the compression parameters according to the sidechain signal.
It also enables the frequency-dependent spectral ducking – and this is where the magic happens: smart:comp resolves spectral clashes between the two signals by creating space for the sidechain signal.
A vocal track merged with an instrument track without ducking:
The same vocal track merged with an instrument track and processed with broadband ducking:
Now, the vocal track merged with an instrument track and processed with smart:comp’s spectral ducking:
With smart:comp’s spectral ducking, the vocal – our sidechain signal – is super present and right up front in the mix without drowning out the instrumental track.
A drum track merged with a bass track and processed with broadband ducking:
The same drum track merged with a bass track and processed with smart:comp’s spectral ducking:
Did you notice how the integrity of the bass line is preserved when sidechaining a drum signal? But the drum track still shines through with no unpleasant pumping.