How To Sidechain to Kick in Ableton with Compression?

Sidechaining is a way to duck down the volume of an audio track during the initial transient hit of the kick so that the kick sounds more impactful and your song will blend together better.

Let’s say you have a kick on Track 1 in Ableton Live, and you have a bass instrument on track 2. To sidechain the bass to the kick, we will need to first put a compressor on the bass track. There are 2 different types of compressors in the Audio Effects section of Ableton Live’s Browser; the normal Compressor and the Glue Compressor (which has more of an analog look).

Let’s start with just the normal Compresor and drag that to the bass track. Once the Compressor is on the desired track, click the arrow button on the compressor next to its enable/disable power button. Now you should see a sidechain option appear on the compressor. Click the sidechain option and pick the track which you wish to sidechain to, in this case, the kick (usually leave it at Post FX sidechain). Pull down the threshold to see the gain reduction sidechaining occur. The lower threshold, the higher the sidechain effect.

The process would be mostly the same with the Glue Compressor.  Once the Glue Compressor is on the desired track, click the arrow button on the Glue Compressor (next to its enable/disable power button). Now you should see a sidechain option appear on the compressor. Click the sidechain option and pick the track which you wish to sidechain to, in this case, the kick (usually leave it at Post FX sidechain). Pull down the threshold to see the gain reduction sidechaining occur. The lower threshold, the higher the sidechain effect.

This principle of ducking an instrument to another sound can be applied to all kinds of sidechaining techniques like other percussive sounds like also ducking an instrument to the snare in an additional compressor.

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