Variations on that pumping effect

Sidechained compression is another technique that has several uses. It can be used on individual tracks to create a dramatic ducking effect without affecting the rest of the mix. You could trigger compression on a synth pad with the kick or snare for dramatic effect. It can be used as a special effect vocals. This is possible both ways – to duck the vocal when the kick is played, or to duck other instruments while the vocal is heard. It’s now common in some circles to use kick-triggered sidechain compression on a synth bass, so that the dramatic pumping effect almost sounds like the attack time is being automated. This focusses the effect so that the rest of the mix remains intact. It’s also common to trigger a side-chained vocal compressor with a high-passed version of the vocal, to reduce the sibilance (harsh “ssss” sounds).

LFO modulation is where things get really interesting. Using a tool like Fabfilter Volcano[1], you don’t even have to have the kick playing in order to hear the pumping effect. You could vary the modulation strength and shape – even use different pumping shapes in different parts of the song to emphasise the different levels of excitement or tension. You could also experiment with coupling the volume modulation with modulation of other effects – filtering, overdrive, chorus/flanger, stereo widening, etc.
[1] Disclaimer: I have a professional relationship with Fabfilter.

The real fun starts when you take these techniques beyond the ordinary pumping effect. Pre- and post-emphasis is a handy technique that is applicable beyond compression. You can use it any time you want a plugin to respond to a skewed tonal balance but without changing the balance as it’s heard. One approach is to use this with saturation. By temporarily boosing the low frequencies or high frequencies, you can focus the saturation on that range. By scooping the mids you can sometimes make the saturation smoother.

Sidechained compression is another technique that has several uses. It can be used on individual tracks to create a dramatic ducking effect without affecting the rest of the mix. You could trigger compression on a synth pad with the kick or snare for dramatic effect. It can be used as a special effect vocals. This is possible both ways – to duck the vocal when the kick is played, or to duck other instruments while the vocal is heard. It’s now common in some circles to use kick-triggered sidechain compression on a synth bass, so that the dramatic pumping effect almost sounds like the attack time is being automated. This focusses the effect so that the rest of the mix remains intact. It’s also common to trigger a side-chained vocal compressor with a high-passed version of the vocal, to reduce the sibilance (harsh “ssss” sounds).

LFO modulation is where things get really interesting. Using a tool like Fabfilter Volcano[1], you don’t even have to have the kick playing in order to hear the pumping effect. You could vary the modulation strength and shape – even use different pumping shapes in different parts of the song to emphasise the different levels of excitement or tension. You could also experiment with coupling the volume modulation with modulation of other effects – filtering, overdrive, chorus/flanger, stereo widening, etc.

Remember – interesting things happen when you experiment and explore different techniques! Keep an open mind and you’ll be sure to develop your skills and knowledge.

-Kim.

[1] Disclaimer: I have a professional relationship with Fabfilter.

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    • Alprazolam
    • July 10th, 2010

    Thanks!

    • hughe
    • July 27th, 2010

    outstanding post! great advice, will take on board!

  1. January 11th, 2010
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