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ducking a kick drum Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 1st September 2011
Gear Head

ducking a kick drum

right this isnt such a nooby question just something i would like to make sure im not missing when a was in with a client.

He said to me, can you duck the kick drum, i said what do you mean sidechain it to something, he said no duck the kick drum.

so i go ahead and sidechain the kick drum to the rest of the track and asked the client is that what you mean.

he said no can you not duck the kick against itself....

i was confused, but something i may of missed???. the client believes that when he was with another engineer they ducked the kick drum ....possibly against itself?

sidechaining the kick against its own signal???? would that do anything positive

or the term ducking the kick drum another process other than sidechain?

we are referring to dance music here - love to know your thoughts
Old 1st September 2011
Lives for gear
Insomniaclown's Avatar

Isn't that what a compressor is for? Or automation? Weird. Usually when you are ducking an instrument to make room for another instrument such as ducking the bass for the kick or vice versa, but I am not sure what is to be gained by ducking the kick with it's own signal. Maybe use parallel compression on the kick and feed the compressed signal into a side chain to duck the kick? Could be an interesting effect.
Old 1st September 2011
Gear Head


Yeah also had an enlightened moment there, what about putting a separate kick drum channel into the daw and ofsetting the 2nd kick in between where the original kick does not play and sidechaining that against the original kick?
Old 2nd September 2011
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sonic dogg's Avatar
Ducking is akin to auto-leveling. Its used in commercials and at times when you have , say, a music track, and then you have the voice-over enter, the music track is 'ducked' to allow room for the other audio to be front and center. Its usually an automated process and usually is applied to the whole audio track that is to be brought down in level.

I've never heard of anyone 'ducking' a kik drum in a music track as it would make it kinda disappear from the proceedings.

Methinks this a 'terminology' problem. You CAN 'duck' something from a sidechain but why in this case is a puzzlement.
Old 2nd September 2011
Lives for gear

Which came first....the kick drum or the kick drum?
Old 2nd September 2011
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KRStudio's Avatar

He probably wanted the bass guitar ducked during kick hits. I know that's not what he said, he probably is only repeating something he read or heard somewhere.
Old 2nd September 2011
Gear Nut
awagner08's Avatar

I like the op's idea about ducking another kick sample with the original. I do something similar quite frequently with a dry over-snappy snare: send to a mono room impulse and duck with the original source.
Old 2nd September 2011
Gear Addict
always_ending's Avatar

why would you want to duck the kick drum is what's puzzling me!?!?

did you ask the "artists" (using that term generously given his requests to you) what exactly the RESULTS he's looking for are?

Because terminology in musical engineering gets lost on persons that do not understand what it is they're even asking for...... we've all been guilty of it, that's only a small snippet of why there's such a huge learning curve to this industry.

Ask them what the desired end result they're looking to achieve is, and we can help you go from there.

asking us how one goes about "ducking a kick drum" without providing some back line as to WHY this is even desired, what type of musical sound are they looking to achieve, etc, etc..... is just wasting your time searching for answers to an (quite frankly) ignorant statement.

I'm not saying YOU are ignorant, nor quite possibly is the "artists", but they obviously ARE ignorant as to what they're trying to achieve, or why they would want to employ a certain mixing technique... other than b/c they were told by so-and-so that they did it on their previous mixes....

and not to even get started on that question.... but we don't even know WHO the previous mixing engineer was, or if he even knows WTF he's talking about
Old 2nd September 2011
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Ben B's Avatar

It's exactly for situations like this that I keep a sample of a duck quack on my hard drive. I just trigger it from the kick track.

-Ben B
Old 2nd September 2011
Gear Addict

It's probably the bass ducked by the kick trick. It never did it for me (I was losing something).
However editing the bass just before the kick or bounce a bass/kick track, inverted it, compress it and invert it again will give you a better result.
Otherwise compress bass/kick or bass/drums together is easier.
Old 3rd September 2011
Lives for gear
sonic dogg's Avatar
I still say its a terminology faux pas. Someone heard someone call something something sometime.....or read it on an internet BB.

"Triggering" something from a side-chain would be a way of tying the kik to something you want it to affect.....but "ducking" aint that animal....
Old 3rd September 2011
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Remeniz's Avatar

I reckon the client wants you to duck the bass using the kick. He's obviously heard the term spoken about in another studio but doesn't fully understand the process or what he's asking for but probably likes the effect.

Sent from my GT-I9100 using App
Old 3rd September 2011
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Aaron Miller's Avatar
I also agree that you should just ask the client what results he wants. Do you want the kick louder, softer, more punchy, more punchy when the bass also plays a note, etc. Then use whatever process to you want to achieve that result.
Old 3rd September 2011
Lives for gear
Boschen's Avatar


Clients are always throwing around technical terms that, to them, may mean something entirely different from what you know as accepted definition. Ignore the words they use, and focus on what the sound is they are looking for. Politely ask for clarification, and perhaps try to translate their adjectives into something more concrete that you can use.

As a corollary, we should avoid doing the same to our clients, and try to use non technical terms that specifically describe the process we are using. Jargon is cool only when you're tossing it around with people who understand it. This should not include most of your clients (except the gearheads, maybe).
Old 7th September 2011
Here for the gear

i'm gonna agree with some of the others here that it was just miscommunication of jargon.
i'll also say that it is more than likely they wanted the kick to duck the bass track to make it a bit more present in the mix at those points.
Old 7th September 2011
Deleted User
My guess would be parrallel compression on the kick while ducking the bass. That could lead to some confusion.
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