Creative Side-Chaining with Compressors & Gates

We recognize that in todays production world their is no longer a need for another tutorial on side-chaining around the kick drum, so we won’t waste your time with one.  Their are more uses for this seemingly old school digital technique using both compressors or gates, depending on your desired rhythmic effect.  For a more sucking, countering rhythm a compressor should be used, but for a more pushing effect, or simple rhythmic duplication of different sound, a gate will work best.  Here’s something for you to try: (see images for easy following)

Let’s create a funky rhythmic closed hihat pattern or add a jackin’ hat loop of sorts.

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Then add a 2nd track with some type of pad, or sustained sound.  Any track or stem can be either a midi or audio track, just depends on how you prefer to work.

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Add a compressor or gate to your track and set up side-chaining with-in your plug/DAW to be triggered by the hihat pattern we created.  We prefer high ratios with low threshold settings and both short attack and release times for heavy pumping and an almost cutty vibe for dramatically tighter rhythms, adjust to your own taste and track tempo.  If you don’t want to hear any clicks from your pad for the times you mute the trigger in your song just pull back a bit on the attack time(compressor) or threshold (gate).

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Add variation to the rhythm of your pad by changing the length of the sound and sound itself for certain hits.  From shorter hats, rims, open hats, and long ride cymbals all can be used hear for some funkifying.  This is our solution to prevent things from getting too loopy and adding some extra ear candy for the listener to keep things interesting for the full length of your record.

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Conclusion:  This is a simple way to add some more dimension and layers to your tracks with ease while keeping things in line with your song.  Add even more manipulation by automating the gain, dry/wet, and/or thresholds within your gate and compressor when tension building is needed in your song.  Simple, powerful, and extremely effective way to take your tracks to the next level of professionalism.  We hope you found this tutorial helpful your feedback, ideas, and questions are always welcome, so drop us a line anytime.


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