© Mike Konopka
Have you ever looked sideways in wonderment at the "sidechain input" or "key in" jacks on your compressor / limiters or noise gates? These sidechain inputs will help you achieve De-essing, Ducking, Keyed Gating, and more. Let's examine these options one at a time:

DE-ESSING: De-essing can be defined as frequency selective compression or limiting. To control sibilance on vocals, hi-hats, cymbals, and other screetchy sounding sources the compressor must be instructed to act on frequencies between approximately 2K to 8K.  To do this, follow these steps: First patch the compressor on the offending source as usual . Next, parallel the non-compressed signal to another channel of EQ. Don't use the insert point or feedback will occur, use a mult instead. If you have a patchbay you can patch thru the EQ section of the channel only, bypassing the fader and output busses. Patch this "EQ out" to the "sidechain" or "Key" input on the compressor. If your compressor features a "sidechain monitor" button, punch it. If it doesn't, find a way to monitor the sidechain EQ. (solo etc..) Now, boost frequencies between approximately 2K and 8K. That's right, make it sound really shrill and funky. Sometimes I use the high-pass filter on our Neotek at Seagrape Recording to filter everything below 500hz. Adjust the ratio and threshold on the compressor to taste, (Maybe 4:1 with 3-6 db compression.)

The compressor will now be acting on the 2k-8k frequencies only. You may even choose to roll out the mud, (300hz) on the original signal channel or add sparkle (10k and up) to this source.

DUCKING: Ducking can be defined as one signal, or set of signals controlling the limiting/compression of another signal, or set of signals. Suppose you are doing a mixdown in which the producer specifies that the almighty kick drum should take precedence over all other tracks. With ducking, this is easily accomplished. Here's how:

First, de-assign all signals you wish to duck from the stereo mix. Now send these signals via any post pan stereo aux send or buss to your stereo compressor / limiter inputs. Return the limiter outputs to two empty faders that are routed to the stereo mix. Now send the kick drum signal via a patch point, aux send or buss to the limiter's sidechain inputs. Depress the stereo interconnect button on the limiter. Now, the only channels in the stereo mix are kick drum itself and the returns of the stereo limiter. As the kick hits, the whole mix "ducks" to accommodate it depending on your limiter attack, release, ratio, and threshold settings. You may choose to leave certain elements of the mix unducked, such as the vocals. This ducking technique also works great with voice-overs that have music intros and endings. When no voiceover is present, the music will play unaffected. When the V.O. kicks in, the music then ducks nicely around it. Experiment!

: Another remix trick is to tightly gate the stings and then control that gate with a track that has staccato rhythmic interest (like a hi-hat) via the gates sidechain input. Then pile on the timed (60000 divided by tempo in BPM = milliseconds) ping pong delays and Presto! Instant techno-geekdom!

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