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Your Vocal Sound and Side-Chain Compression

I got a quick question from a reader recently. It underlies a fundamental issue with audio production.

Here it is:

“Is it a good idea to sidechain compression vocal with a kick to get those pumping vocal effect (like normally we sidechain bass with a kick )?”

Now, there are a ton of great tutorials on how to make a side-chain effect, whether it’s with your vocal sound, reverb or any other element. Just a quick search on Audiotuts reveals a few. However, there is one thing that I wanted to ask back, especially to those who would ask similar questions.

I want to know: Have you tried it? Did you like it? Did you actually side-chain the vocal to the kick to hear how it sounds before asking the question?

I don’t really know if it’s a good idea without context. It depends on the genre, the feel of the song, how you hear it in your head and how you want your mix to sound. So, at the risk of being purposefully vague, I offer this response:

I haven’t got a clue!

If you like the effect and it fits the song, awesome!

Just try it out and see if you like it. It’s not like you’ll be making a disastrous decision you can’t take back. It’s only mixing, you can always bypass the plug-ins.

However, if you like the effect but think it might be overkill on the whole song here’s what you can do.

  1. Copy the vocal part to a new channel, insert your side-chain processing and your whacky effects on that channel.
  2.  Automate it so that it only pops in for certain phrases or parts.
  3. That way you get both a cool effect without drowning the listener in the same crazy effect for the entire song.

Simple solution, and might work. Hope that gives you readers with a similar problem some ideas.

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Image by: Surat Lozowick

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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