Pretension is a Brisbane based electronic producer who is determined to make his mark on the Australian dance music scene. This blog explores how he uses various production techniques in his past and present releases. Check them out!

The Sidechain Fakey

Okay this first lesson is going to be on faking the sound produced by a side chain compressor.

Now, we all know and love the sound of a dirty bassline pumping and pulsing off the beat of a kick drum. It’s been used for years by the likes of Daft Punk and Eric Prydz and chances are, your favourite tune right now is using it in one way or another. It sounds great on bass, synth, pads or vocals and can be used to help your bassline sit nicely with your kick drum. (EQ is also helpful but I’ll get to that in a later lesson)

SonicTrasfer have done a great write up on how to do it using a sidechain compressor and the guys at ProJuice have even put together a snazzy video. Today, however, I’m going to show you how to fake it. I no longer use a sidechain compressor to get my basslines ducking and my pads pumping. I use Ableton Live’s Auto Pan. I find that it uses less CPU, I no longer need a dedicated kick drum track and I can still achieve the desired effect.

So let’s start with the original bassline without the sidechain effect.








Straightforward hey? Now do you hear how it doesn’t play nice with the 808 kick drum?








It’s kind of muddy and you really lose the emphasise of the kick. It’s time for some sidechain faking.

When you first load up Auto Pan onto your bassline track it looks like this:

Now to get a side chain effect, you immediately want to adjust the following things:

- set the Phase to 0.00°
- change the shape of the wave form to
saw
-
Invert the wave shape
- Set the
Rate to ¼
- Set the
Shape to about 50%
- Set the
Offset to 0.00°


Once you have all of these things set you can then adjust the Amount to get the desired effect. You should also play around with the Shape as this can change the groove or swing of the side chain effect.





So here is what the bassline sounds like with the fake sidechain:








And here is what it sounds like with the kick:








And in the context of the song:








Other Tips
- Try the fake sidechain on pads, vocals, synths and whatever else you can get your hands on.
- Experiment with two Auto Pans in series. Use the settings above for both but adjust the
Offset of the second Auto Pan between 300° and 360°
- Try a 1/16 square gate on a second Auto Pan to get that nice fidget sound.
- Lastly, hit the little disk icon on the top right corner of your Auto Pan and save the little guy. It’s certainly a lot quicker than adjusting those settings every time.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great tips, clearly explained. Thanks!

Phreaf

haynezeeboy said...

Much pan.

Mark Maxwell aka Pretension said...

Glad you like them guys. Stay tuned for more bass destruction goodness!

rounser said...

That is a nifty trick. Another way to fake sidechain is just to use automation. Surprising how often folks overlook that, really.

Torley said...

I continue to be ashamed by so many audio tutorials that lack sound examples. It's inexplicable, but this tutorial has GIVEN ME HOPE – I'm appreciative for the step-by-step sonic illustrations leading to the final result.

Great on ya, Max!

@rounser I think a lot of people view "sidechain" as some mythical dragon when the actual end result is simpler than they imagine it to be. I laughed so hard listening to one radio interview where BT makes reference to the interviewer doing "manual ducking".

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