How to side-chain in Ableton Live

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 2.14.08 PM

In this tutorial I will be explaining how you can get a side-chain effect by using the stock Compressor plug – in provided in Ableton live 8. Side-chaining is used by producers to achieve multiple effects and or to bring out a certain instrument / frequency based on another input. Sounds confusing? It’ll get really simple in the following steps:


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Notice in the audio file above, how the white noise ducks and comes back as the kick comes in and out of the sound, this is what we wish to achieve.

Lets Start!


1: In this particular example, we’re dealing with 2 different tracks, so go ahead and create 2 new audio tracks in Ableton live. (Cmd+T)

Side-chain_and_KickIn the image above, we can see the

1: Drums Track [Its a comb].

I’ve used the Drum Rack which comes by default in Live as the kick, The sample used in this example is from one of a recording sessions.
2: White Noise:
The White Noise was bounced via re-routing the signal from operator onto a new track and recording it, I did this for utilizing minimal system resources.

Step 1:
Apply a compressor on the White Noise:
Live_Compressor_on_White_noiseIn the compressor my settings are not as per any rule, I simply adjust to flavor, you can create automations in the compression ratio and attack and release times to get some interesting sounding white noise.
Step 2: Enable Side-chaining:
Make sure you click on the small triangle right next to the On / Off button on the top right of the compressor window, by doing this you are now enabling the side chaining feature of the compressor. In the Audio From drop down selection menu, make sure you select the kick, in this example, I’ve chosen the Drum rack and the Post FX signal, you can choose pre-FX as it effects the transient effect based on the reverb or drum compression if any applied.

Step 3: Attack and Release:

Next, you set the attack and release times, in this example I’ve set the attack to 0.01 ms and the release to 97 ms.

Step 4: Set the threshold:

Bring the threshold down, until you hear the white noise sort of jumping to and fro based on the kick.

Step 5: Adjust the Ratio:
Change the compression ratio as per your flavor, I have set it to around 5:00 in this example.

Final White Noise:
This is how the white noise should sound after all these settings have been applied:
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Viola! And you have your side-chained white noise ready!


You can apply Some equalization to the white noise and automate it as the song progresses to add some fluidity to the composition.
Add some delay to the white noise to give it more dimension