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don't gate drums, duck Dynamics Plugins
Old 23rd March 2010
  #1
riverboatjim
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don't gate drums, duck

This may be an old trick, but I did not find any other posts that mentioned it.

I was working on a drum track, and the kick would hum everytime the snare was hit. All attempts at setting a gate failed(chattering, or kick sounded too choked), I even tried the Key input, with radical EQ.

In the past, I would edit the track manually in pro-tools, to cut out the noise, but thought that there had to be a better way.

My 1st attempt was to use DINR. I sampled a snare hit, and used it to process the kick track. it did a decent job.

My next attempt worked MUCH better, and I have to wonder why I never thought of it before.
I set up a compressor on the kick as a DUCKER. feeding the snare into the Key(sidechain) input, it ducks the kick track everytime the snare hits.

After bouncing the track, I had to make 2 corrections where the kick and snare hit at the same time, then I was done. it did a GREAT job, no chattering and EASY to set up.

This little trick will save me Hours of editing. hope it helps someone else.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #2
riverboatjim
Guest
before some troll tries to give me a lecture, NO I don't claim that this will work in EVERY case, in fact I may still run through a gate later, to get a tighter sound. but gating the track now will be much much easier
Old 23rd March 2010
  #3
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Storyville's Avatar
I think this is a GREAT idea! Seems so obvious - but never occurred to me. Thanks for sharing.

*Puts idea into bag o tracks*
Old 23rd March 2010
  #4
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Seb RIOU's Avatar
 

Yep, I'm buying it too.
Doesn't work for Disco though. But nothing works with Disco ;-)
Old 23rd March 2010
  #5
teo
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Another thing that often works is using a gate, with the range set to about -10/-15 dBs. This way, when the gate closes. it attenuates the noise enough to get it out of the way, without sucking the air from the kick or producing artifacts (chattering and the like...).

My 0.02
Old 23rd March 2010
  #6
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by teo View Post
Another thing that often works is using a gate, with the range set to about -10/-15 dBs. This way, when the gate closes. it attenuates the noise enough to get it out of the way, without sucking the air from the kick or producing artifacts (chattering and the like...).

My 0.02
true

i usually use 6-9 dB err 'downward expansion"
Old 23rd March 2010
  #7
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Rikers Beard's Avatar
 

This will also work wonders on kick and bass guitar. Duck the bass every time the kick hits. It sounds natural in a mix when set right and can allow the bass guitar to be louder and still carve room for a bass drum. Usually just a few db will do the trick.
Old 23rd March 2010
  #8
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syntax's Avatar
 

This trick also works well with snares in overheads. By quickly ducking the snare attack transients in the overheads the close miked signal cuts better. Someone suggested this for mixing metal, so I gave it a shot on a metal project and it worked.
Old 24th March 2010
  #9
teo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rikers Beard View Post
This will also work wonders on kick and bass guitar. Duck the bass every time the kick hits. It sounds natural in a mix when set right and can allow the bass guitar to be louder and still carve room for a bass drum. Usually just a few db will do the trick.
I've heard this before and never tried it...I will in a minute and report back!
Old 24th March 2010
  #10
Myr
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I don't quite understand how this ducking thing works. Can someone give me a little guide? I'm using Cubase, if that helps.
Old 24th March 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myr View Post
I don't quite understand how this ducking thing works. Can someone give me a little guide? I'm using Cubase, if that helps.
Hey Myr,

Basically ducking is like automating a compressor to only compress the sound when another instrument is being played (a kick or snare for example).

The most obvious example is TV adverts - notice how the music gets lower when the voice-over starts?

The way to set one up is to take the track that you want to initiate the ducking and buss it to the side chain (key) input of a compressor that you set up on the track you want to duck. So for example if you wanted the bass to be louder but the kick to still cut through, you might set up a compressor on the bass track and feed the kick to its side chain input. This would mean that every time the kick hits the bass will drop in volume and then return to its original level.

Settings on the compressor are down to personal taste, but you'll generally want a very fast attack and either a fast release or a release that is in time with the song. Ratio is dependent on how much ducking you want, but generally low settings work best (1.5:1, 2:1 etc.)

I'm not sure how you would set that up in Cubase, but if it's anything like Pro Tools you'll need to send track A to a buss and then select that buss as the key input of the compressor on track B.
Old 24th March 2010
  #12
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listen to fm radio, when the dj talks the music moves to the background...
Old 24th March 2010
  #13
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loveinoctober's Avatar
F*ck the duck

I never gate/duck kicks or snares. It doesn't sound natural and makes records sound like they're from the 80s.
Old 24th March 2010
  #14
Myr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blacklight_uk View Post
Hey Myr,

Basically ducking is like automating a compressor to only compress the sound when another instrument is being played (a kick or snare for example).

The most obvious example is TV adverts - notice how the music gets lower when the voice-over starts?

The way to set one up is to take the track that you want to initiate the ducking and buss it to the side chain (key) input of a compressor that you set up on the track you want to duck. So for example if you wanted the bass to be louder but the kick to still cut through, you might set up a compressor on the bass track and feed the kick to its side chain input. This would mean that every time the kick hits the bass will drop in volume and then return to its original level.

Settings on the compressor are down to personal taste, but you'll generally want a very fast attack and either a fast release or a release that is in time with the song. Ratio is dependent on how much ducking you want, but generally low settings work best (1.5:1, 2:1 etc.)

I'm not sure how you would set that up in Cubase, but if it's anything like Pro Tools you'll need to send track A to a buss and then select that buss as the key input of the compressor on track B.
Ok, I think I get the general idea. However, let's say I have all my inserts on the bass track, and the sound is exactly what I want. Would the ducking compressor affect anything else on the bass track except than when the kick hits? Could be problematic if I already have a a very compressed bass track.
Old 24th March 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rikers Beard View Post
This will also work wonders on kick and bass guitar. Duck the bass every time the kick hits. It sounds natural in a mix when set right and can allow the bass guitar to be louder and still carve room for a bass drum. Usually just a few db will do the trick.
the best trick that i have ever learned! i picked that trick up from the russ russell sound on sound interviews. god, it makes getting kick and bass easier to mix.
i sidechain my snare, too, but to itself. i find the one with the least amount of bleed and i use it to gate the lively one. makes for a tight snare sound.
i duck rhythm guitars out with guitar solos, 2-3 db max. saves automation and sounds a bit more natural to me.
Old 24th March 2010
  #16
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Been raving this for years. Don't know, ever since I was a kid and got trapped on one (almost lost a finger) I never again trusted gates. heh

Daffy Ducks sounds quack!

Hysteresis (downwards expansion) is much more natural sounding.

Get it to just below the mix and artifacts are masked out of the way, yet retaining the obscure voodoo of reality


Old 24th March 2010
  #17
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bitman's Avatar
Don't gate drums, Duck.

Who you callin' a Duck?





Seriously, Good tip. Thanks
Old 24th March 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myr View Post
Ok, I think I get the general idea. However, let's say I have all my inserts on the bass track, and the sound is exactly what I want. Would the ducking compressor affect anything else on the bass track except than when the kick hits? Could be problematic if I already have a a very compressed bass track.
No because the compressor is being triggered by the kick, so as long as you set your threshold and release settings right it won't be compressing the sound at all if the kick isn't hitting it. It does depend on your choice of settings as to how this sounds. A longer release and higher ratio will give you a pumping sound, while a fast attack, fast release and low ratio will have only the effect of unmasking the kick slightly.
Old 24th March 2010
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big_Bang View Post
Been raving this for years. Don't know, ever since I was a kid and got trapped on one (almost lost a finger) I never again trusted gates. heh

Daffy Ducks sounds quack!

Hysteresis (downwards expansion) is much more natural sounding.

Get it to just below the mix and artifacts are masked out of the way, yet retaining the obscure voodoo of reality


just fyi, hysteresis is not downward expansion, but is something downward expanders or gates often use in order to have a slightly different threshold for the attack and release portions of the mechanism. It's a clever application of rather simple technology that gives a more natural dynamic contour.
Old 24th March 2010
  #20
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Absolute right !!

Its amazing how arguments arise from this, and how little this niche of audio processing is used and understood!

I used it like you'd use "squash" for compression.

Hysteresis actually means the deviation, or ******ation, or decreased catalisation of an effect (in general sciences)

So in this sense, for a non-linear "ducking" without the need sidechaining, where it sounds more natural, as the threshold is not necessarily just hard/soft-knee, or constant program attack/release speeds etc having the rest untouched, but can vary considerably through out the dynamic range!

I knew of compression YEARS before even hearing about this. Made my brain go to jelly trying to figure it out heh

Brilliant isn't it ?

Old 24th March 2010
  #21
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by loveinoctober View Post
I never gate/duck kicks or snares. It doesn't sound natural and makes records sound like they're from the 80s.
only if done to extremes.
Old 24th March 2010
  #22
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Well... more or less...

Haven't you ever seen engineers hack up drum takes and edit out all the "non-relevant material" ?

Its not only extreme settings, its a philosophy !

It does have its purposes, though I dont particularly like it...
Old 24th March 2010
  #23
Gear Addict
 

I found a really easy tutorial on how to do this with Logic.

Logic Pro Help :: View topic - The Art of Ducking.pdf

I'll upload the PDF file as well.

Thanks for bringing this topic up. I've been hearing about this technique for awhile, but never understood it. This prompted me to do my own search and now it makes a heck of a lot more sense. Lot less mud when the kick and bass aren't fighting each other, because this basically makes the bass the kick's bitch.

If you do this subtly you don't even notice the bass is being lowered each time the kick hits, but it definitely makes a difference. Great technique for Hip Hop.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf The_Art_of_Ducking.pdf (649.2 KB, 452 views)
Old 24th March 2010
  #24
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AndyHD's Avatar
 

I hate to get technical in what is a very informative discussion...

Sidechain compression and ducking are not the same thing; they're very similar but react and are controlled slightly differently.

Sidechaining still responds to ratio/threshold settings in the same way as a compressor (because it is one). You'd rarely hear sidechain compression used to duck music on an advert to make room for a VO, for example.

Ducking is essentially an inverse gate; when the signal crosses a threshold then it is attenuated to a set level; the same as the 'range' setting on a typical gate. You also get control over hold and release with a proper duck gate, which offers a more natural way of allowing things to return to their original level than compression release.

While they perform very similar tasks, it's important to know that a sidechain compressor will attenuate a signal more (dependent on ratio/threshold controls) if the sidechain signal is louder, whereas a duck gate will keep the attenuation at a fixed amount regardless of how far over the threshold the program material goes.

Blame this ramble on coffee
Old 24th March 2010
  #25
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Subversounds's Avatar
This is a very good trick.

I've learned it with the guys doing electronic music (hard kick and loud bass - trance). they do that all the time with leads, kicks and bass.

The bad thing is that sidechaining feature only came in cubase 4+ (VST3).

Before that in Cubase you had to do some good old tricks:

YouTube - Sidechaining in Cubase SX


This trick i use a lot. But very carefully, to balance between tracks without creating too much automation.

I generally use the sidechain compression for:

kick and bass > to get a good blend and loud output of both when not 'conflicting'. It is also good to use compressors that you can choose the frequency to compress (i use the Fabfilter compressor, great one).

Lead Guitar to rhythm guitar > also to smoothly transit from loud notes to more gentle ones without crazy automation.

Lead Vox to Backing vocals > same as above.

The secret is the threshold, attack and output gain, well, as in any compressor.

I've used it also on live performances where you cant use automation. So I create a bus mix for the entire track except vocals and lead instrument (guitars). Both will trigger the compressor for the whole mix, always gently to not sound like ducking.
Old 24th March 2010
  #26
Vum
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I recorded a radio show recently on location in a room that is very very live. When one host (the loud one) would talk the other host's mic would pick up the reflections and it sounded terrible. When I was mixing the show (it was pre-taped with a very quick turn around) I just put a compressor on the mic with the most bleed and activated the side chain with the signal from the loud host's direct mic (with a send). That way, if they were both talking at the same time, you'd still be able to hear them both while the room sound was eliminated from the offending mic signal when it wasn't in use. Automating would have taken too long and this method was absolutely perfect for the show.

I've known guys to do this with program music when mixing a song where the vocalist is making a "show-reel" or even with some pop music where the music is poor in comparison to the vocals.



I use ducking all the time for VO if I do not have time to automate fades, level rides, etc of the music, effects and so on.
Old 24th March 2010
  #27
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Quote:
While they perform very similar tasks, it's important to know that a sidechain compressor will attenuate a signal more (dependent on ratio/threshold controls) if the sidechain signal is louder, whereas a duck gate will keep the attenuation at a fixed amount regardless of how far over the threshold the program material goes.
This is a key point to note!

I recently tried sidechaining a bass track with a kick, to allow the kick to be a bit more prominent, however it caused problems with some of the really forte kick hits, where the bass was really being squeezed right down; so rather than the kick being tighter and more up front (due to less bass masking), what actually happened was the bass sounded quite thin on the forte passages, due to excessive compression on the really loud kick hits.

I got much more satisfying results with independent compression and automation.
Old 24th March 2010
  #28
Gear Nut
 

i know this is more for a direct hit and not ducking ..
but i find it very useful, and also on drum bus

YouTube - UAD SPL Transient Designer Demo Video
Old 24th March 2010
  #29
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blacklight_uk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyHD View Post
I hate to get technical in what is a very informative discussion...

Sidechain compression and ducking are not the same thing; they're very similar but react and are controlled slightly differently.

Sidechaining still responds to ratio/threshold settings in the same way as a compressor (because it is one). You'd rarely hear sidechain compression used to duck music on an advert to make room for a VO, for example.

Ducking is essentially an inverse gate; when the signal crosses a threshold then it is attenuated to a set level; the same as the 'range' setting on a typical gate. You also get control over hold and release with a proper duck gate, which offers a more natural way of allowing things to return to their original level than compression release.

While they perform very similar tasks, it's important to know that a sidechain compressor will attenuate a signal more (dependent on ratio/threshold controls) if the sidechain signal is louder, whereas a duck gate will keep the attenuation at a fixed amount regardless of how far over the threshold the program material goes.

Blame this ramble on coffee
This post deserves a
Old 24th March 2010
  #30
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audiogeek's Avatar
 

what about for guitar?

...sorry, couldn't resist
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