Side-Chaining is a great way to help control audio in relation to another bit of audio. Today, we’re looking at how we’ve implemented sidechaining as a way of ducking music on our Free Pro Tools Template. Download it before reading through.
On the template, you’ll see that four of the VO channels have their outputs routed through a channel called ‘VO Mix.’ You’ll also see that we have a send in place on the ‘VO Mix’ channel I’ve called ‘Sidechain-VO’ (automatically shortened to ‘Sdchn-VO’ by Pro Tools. When clicking on this ‘Sdchn-VO’ you can see I’ve pulled the fader up to 0dB.
If you setting this up in your own template, on whatever audio channel you want to control the level of your music you should create a new send – and replace the name ‘Sdchn-VO’ with whatever channel you select.
Again on our Free Pro Tools Template we’ve added in a compressor onto the Bed channels. This is going to be what helps to control the volume of the music as any signal from the ‘VO Mix’ passes through it. We’re working with Dyn3 Compressor/Limiter which comes free with Pro Tools.
We’ve given it a high ratio to make sure the ducking effect is solid, but kept the attack and release settings relatively slow so as to keep the music from audibly volume changing with every small dynamic piece of audio that passes through the VO Mix. We’ve set the threshold to tame the signal of the music as the voice passes through the VO Mix into the sidechain. You can see by the key in the top left of the plug-in that the ‘Sidechain-VO.L’ (the left hand side of a stereo pair – .R would also be ok to use) is selected. This is the ‘key input’ and tells the compressor to only work if signal is passing through the Sidechain-VO send, in this case any audio on our VO channels passing through the ‘VO Mix’.
On the right hand side of the plug-in is a box called ‘Side-Chain’ with some more complex controls to allow you the chance to dial in EQ in respect to how the compressor works if you so desire… Experiment to check out how it works!
If you make music, you can have the kick drum control the bass line, creating a great pumping effect. You could also use it to help manage your level’s automatically in a Radio Imaging or Jingle template. Why stop at just having the Voice control the music level, why not your FX too? That would really speed up your mixing… An insider’s secret? I did something like this with my templates for Capital and Capital XTRA for the team to use – a great way of developing consistency amongst a team with varied skill levels.