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Controlling Side Chain Gain on Bass
Old 6 days ago
  #1
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Controlling Side Chain Gain on Bass

super noobie question:

when you're side-chaining a bass with a kick drum, do you just mix the bass lower before the kick comes in?

my bass is super loud with side chain setup until the kick comes in to activate the compressor.

in the past i've just had volume automation until kick comes in but i'm wondering if maybe i'm doing this all wrong
Old 6 days ago
  #2
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Possibly. You may have it backwards but I'll explain both.

When the side chaining does is ducking, like an announcer on a radio. When he speaks the background music lowers.

The way I use side chaining is to create a copy of the trigger track. If its a kick, I copy it then select the send from that track to the compressor on the bass track.
The result will be the bass will be heard until the kick hits then the volume of the bass comes down and the kick is heard over the bass.

From your description it sounds like you want the opposite. Copy the bass track and feed the bass track to the kick compressor. When the bass plays its heard over the kick.

Those are your only two options. It does sound like you have other issues however. Normally bass notes are played with the kick and snare. You may have fills that run between those beats but the power notes are together. If you're having a volume war between the kick and bass and one is masking the other you should really focus on separating the two with frequency manipulation. If both are peaking at say 80hZ, let one peak at 80 and notch the other at 80 and give it a higher or lower peak. This way both can be heard without the need for ducking.

Ducking kind of sucks anyway. The attack and release times can only be set to one swell. That may be OK in cases where the beat is constant and the music is technically simple. If the music is more complex you make sacrifices. The swell may be apparent to the listener, you may loose notes as the envelope increases/decreases. I use it every once an awhile but it doesn't always work well, plus you're adding compression to something that might not need it.

My method is to first track well, then mix well and try to avoid the need for ducking. Then if its only a small percentage of notes that need it, I'd rather use manual envelopes or use volume automation first. If you have noise between notes then use a gate to silence the sound. Better yet use a gate when tracking so your fingers work with the attack. Its always better to take care of things like noise at the source then to needlessly butcher a track. The goal is to make mixing as simple as possible as you detect issues. Save the major surgery when you have no other options.
Old 6 days ago
  #3
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very thorough response, thanks.

but not quite where i'm coming from, i'm making a bass pump with the kick. but i don't want the effect until the kick comes in. the problem is that the compressor makes the bass super loud until the kick comes in. obviously i can mix the bass down until then which is what i always do, but i'm wondering if there's a better way?
Old 5 days ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grodhisatva View Post
very thorough response, thanks.

but not quite where i'm coming from, i'm making a bass pump with the kick. but i don't want the effect until the kick comes in. the problem is that the compressor makes the bass super loud until the kick comes in. obviously i can mix the bass down until then which is what i always do, but i'm wondering if there's a better way?
It sounds like you've got the compressor set up in a way it shouldn't be (to achieve your goals).

Are you giving it make-up gain? How much? What's the amount of compression when the compressor is working (both ratio and measured in dB)?
Old 5 days ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
It sounds like you've got the compressor set up in a way it shouldn't be (to achieve your goals).

Are you giving it make-up gain? How much? What's the amount of compression when the compressor is working (both ratio and measured in dB)?
so i've adjusted my settings since i posted and it's sound fine now without just mixing lower, but this has always been a particular technique I never used much, so here are my settings and would surely appreciate your feedback. again, this is working to do what i want, but if there's a better way i'd love to know.

threshold -5.5, ratio 6:1, immediate attack, release 134 ms (times to release on 8th notes), gain setting are 9 into compressor, - 10 on makeup

again this is actually working nicely rn, but definitely open to better

pic of curve and settings:

https://i.imgur.com/B3f8Fkw.png
Old 5 days ago
  #6
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Immediate attack can sound pretty choppy. Try adding some attack time so its softens the attack slightly.

makeup gain of 10dB sounds way too high as does 9dB in. You're using the compressor as a preamp which adds allot of noise.

I suggest you bring the out down to 0dB and work it from there. If you're signals too weak then your track was likely recorded too weak.
You probably need to gain the track up. As a test try normalizing the track up to say -4dB while watching the wave view. If the wave size gets bigger then you likely recorded with too low a volume. If the size of the waveform gets smaller then you likely have some other issues going on, possibly dealing with frequency content.

If it got larger then you can either leave it or undo it and use you either your trim to add gain or use a plugin to beef the bass up before it hits the compressor. The compressor. One of my favorites for this is this free Musicrow plugin. It can make a bass guitar as solid as an Ampeg SVT. Musicrow Preamp Emulator VST- Free preamp VST plugin its controls are super simple, set the input leve, set how much gain you want in conjunction with the input level (find the sweet spot between the two) then set your out level.

This plugin should be able to get your signal strength up so the bass is plenty loud with the comp set to zero makeup. ( the comp may have a preset for bass too which you can try) This way the comp is acting like a gate not an amplifier. A compressor over gained produces way too much unwanted noise. You want to keep that noise floor low by feeding the comp a strong enough signal. That usually begins with no makeup and average input levels.

You can play around with the threshold levels to vary the triggering. Usually -16 ~ -21 for bass should be right. Then you can also vary the level of the send track which affects the threshold levels too. I usually work it bass ackwards, I set the threshold to around -18 then vary the track send levels.

As an added note you can add plugins to the send track which in turn affects the ducking. For example adding more treble can make a sharper transient with a shorter duration. This can cause a sharper gating effect. More bass may sustain more on a kick drum and be slower to rise in amplitude. This too would affect how the compressor gates and how long the gate remains open. Many times when I'm ducking guitar in back of vocals I add a compressor to the vocal send track. This maintains an even peak level even though the vocal track may be changing in volume amplitude between words. Then when the words pause between sentences and breaks, the gate releases and the guitar will come back up smoothly.

You can also do allot to help cleaning up tracks, If there's allot of bleed in a kick drum mic you may get false triggers when ducking. Using an envelope tool to silence the track between kicks can do allot to help.
Old 5 days ago
  #7
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that says - 10, as in minus 10
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