Working with smart:comp’s sidechain ducking

July 15, 2019 | Tutorial

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.

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.

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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-by-Step

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.

Example I

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.

 

Example II

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.