Sidechaining is a process that allows you to feed a plug-in such as a compressor or a gate with an external audio signal which will then trigger a key element of the process. So for instance in a traditional side-chain setup, we could see a kick drum being fed to a compressor to trigger its gain reduction.


The possibilities of sidechaining are vast, especially when you consider the variety of audio processors featuring sidechaining and the almost infinite number of sound combinations that can be used with them. The side-chain works as a form of an envelope follower, following the dynamic movement of the input same host including built-in filters or equalizers for the side-chain path.


Each audio host (DAW or NLE) manage the side-chain routing and the key signal works in a different way. On Steinberg audio hosts, the VST3 format works better for the side-chain than the VST2 format. On the Avid hosts like Pro Tools, the side-chain key signal is always a mono signal.


The side-chain key signals can be internal and external:

  • The internal side-chain key signal is the same as the source signal and normally is processed with a filter.  
  • The external side-chain key signal is a signal coming from a different channel or bus, and the plug-in should be set to receive and process the key signal. The plug-in's key signal is normally identified as input 3 and input 4.


External side-chaining:

To explain how it works, use a session with two tracks. The first track should contain the audio that we want to process with Jet or any other Acqua effect that includes side-chain processing, which we'll call the main track from now. The second track should contain the audio that we want to route to Jet's external side-chain input and use it as the trigger signal. We'll call this track the side-chain track. 


External side-chain with Steinberg Cubase

  1. Open Cubase and create a new empty project. 
  2. Add two audio tracks that we'll use as the main track and-side chain track. 
  3. Add audio files on both tracks, the main track and the side-chain track.
  4. Open the Mixer. In the main track, click on an empty insert slot and select Jet in VST3 format in the filter menu.
  5. In the plug-in header, click on the activate side-chain button (right of the r/w buttons) to enable the external side-chain. 
  6. Set the output for the side-chain track to the side-chain input of Jet.
  7. Set a loop where the side-chain track does not play and then starts to play in order to evaluate the dynamic compression effect.
  8. Set the ext sidechain as ON in the Jet user interface (UI).
  9. Set both frequencies to compress and the quantity of compression.
  10. Set the main knob to adjust the general amount of compression.


External side-chain with Avid Pro Tools

  1. Open Pro Tools and start a new empty session. 
  2. Create two audio tracks that we'll use as the main track and side-chain track.
  3. Add audio files on both tracks, the main track and the side-chain track.
  4. Open the mix window to display the tracks with their insert slots and sends slots. 
  5. In the first send slot of the side-chain track, choose bus 1.
  6. The track view for bus 1 will open, and set the level slider to 0.0 dB.
  7. In the first insert slot of the main track, choose search for Jet and load it.
  8.  In the key input menu of the plug-in user interface, choose bus and then bus 1 instead of the default.
  9. Set a loop where the side-chain track does not play and then starts to play in order to evaluate the dynamic compression effect.
  10. Set the ext sidechain as ON in the Jet user interface (UI).
  11. Set both frequencies to compress and the quantity of compression.
  12. Set the main knob to adjust the general amount of compression.


External side-chain with Apple Logi Pro

  1. Open Logic Pro and create a new empty project. 
  2. Create two audio tracks that we'll use as the main track and side-chain track.
  3. Add audio files on both tracks, the main track and the side-chain track.
  4. Select the main track and add Jet in the first insert effect slot.
  5. On Jet side-chain menu select the side-chain track (on the right top corner of the plug-in interface header).
  6. Set a loop where the side-chain track does not play and then starts to play in order to evaluate the dynamic compression effect.
  7. Set the ext sidechain as ON in the Jet user interface (UI).
  8. Set both frequencies to compress and the quantity of compression.
  9. Set the main knob to adjust the general amount of compression.

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