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Watch a Tutorial on How to Use Sidechain Compression in Ableton Live 10

Compression plays a huge part in modern production techniques – especially within dance music – and Sidechain compression is a particularly commonly used technique. For our latest Ableton 10 tutorial, we called on our expert instructor Chris Carter to quickly demonstrate how to use a sidechain within Ableton Live to control compression, allowing for some classic effects. Check out our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering, quality assured by Middlesex University, on which you will find Sound Design Modules taught by Chris.

Chris begins by teaching us how to create a basic sidechain on your compressor. To do this he has created a simple pattern made up of a 909 kick, an organ bass and some strings. From here, he opens up a compressor on the string track and selects sidechain, which allows him to control the compressor on the strings using the kick drum. With a low threshold for the sake of making the compression obvious, we can start to see the classic throbbing sound that this technique creates. Once doubled up on the bass track, we are left with a distinctive pulsing effect – perfect for adding some movement to your club thumpers.

For a more complex example, Chris adds in a vocal track to demonstrate how to use sidechained compression to control effects. Putting a long-tailed reverb on the vocal sounds great, but it drowns the actual voice a little too much. To counteract this, you can select the same vocal track to control the compression, which allows it to play out clearly and bring up the washed out audio tail. Check the video to see exactly how to do this.

As well as the aforementioned degree programme in London, you can study the same course from anywhere online. Speaking of degrees, we are launching the BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice next semester, also quality assured by Middlesex University, for a greater focus on performance. If you would rather study something shorter why not take a look at our range of production courses in London, and if you have any questions or would like to book a studio tour, get in touch with our course advisors.

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