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Cubase: Side Chaining & Ducking Tutorial

in Cubase/Mixing & Mastering/Tutorials by

In this tutorial we are going to cover side-chaining and ducking in Cubase 5. In this example I am going to demonstrate a technique that is commonly used in techno or dance music to tighten up the low end and increase the impact of the kick drum, or even to create cool pumping effects.

When mixing your kick and bass sounds together you may find that some frequencies are overlapping and conflicting with each other causing a muddy low end. A great way to solve this problem and build a solid low end is to “duck” the bass in response to the kick drum with side chain compression. Essentially what this does is decrease the volume or amplitude of the bass on every kick drum hit.

Step 1

Insert the Steinberg compressor on the bass channel and activate the side-chain input by clicking the button to the left of the preset pane.

Side chain Compression

Step 2

Next open up the kick drum channel settings and click on send slot one. You should now see the side-chain bass compressor as a send option. Select this and turn the send level up.

Side Chain Kick Send

Step 3

Return to the compressor on the bass channel and adjust the threshold so you are getting gain reduction on each kick drum hit. Set the ratio to about 3:1 with a fast attack setting and adjust the release so gain reduction returns to zero before the next kick drum hit arrives.

After Ducking Compresion

In most situations you just need a couple of db’s of gain reduction to get your kick drum punching through better. But experimenting with different compressors settings can produce some really cool pumping effects. Check out the samples below to hear it in action.

In sample 2 I have switched the Kicks drums send to pre-fader, that way I could reduce the volume of the kick and still hear the pumping effect on the bass sample, a sound that I’m sure you are familiar with.


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