Creative usage of sidechaining at Ableton Live producer masterclass in Studio 80

TWSTd Producers MasterclassLast Thursday, May 26 the TWSTd Producers Masterclass was organized at Studio 80 on the Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In the first hour of this masterclass the sidechaining technique was explained extensively. And in the second hour a rough version of a full dance track was put together.

Sidechaining is widely used by dance producers for the pumping or pushing effect. With sidechaining the signal from the kick drum is used to regulate the volume of instruments like the bass, pads or strings. At the moment the kick is playing, the volume of the instruments in the sidechain is lowered. The result is the famous pumping sound that you often hear nowadays in dance music.

Sidechaining Ableton Live is very easy to set up using the built-in compressor, so you would think that reading the Ableton Live manual is enough to skip this masterclass. Nothing appears to be untrue. During the master Max Coppens and Michel Sanchez-Infante show different sidechaining effects in Ableton Live. Did you know that Ableton’s Auto Filter and Gate have sidechaining possibilities?

Michel Sanchez-Infante first shows how the compressor can be used for sidechaining. Of course, he thereby shows how to setup a sidechain effect, but it involves much more. First, he explains that the release button on the compressor largely determines the sound. He also gives other good tips on setting up the compressor. One of the most striking here is to disable the Makeup Gain of Live’s compressor. “Always make sure you turn off the Makeup Gain. Then you can adjust the volume output of the compressor much better by ear”. If you want to turn off the Makeup Gain of the compressor by default, you can accomplish this by a right-click on the compressor and choosing Save As Default Preset in the menu.

After Michel Sanches-Infante’s presentation Max Coppens shows how the Auto Filter and the Gate can be controlled using sidechaining. For example, you can automatically turn away the bass so that the kick drum gets more space. Coppens also shows a track with and without sidechaining. It’s clearly audible that the instruments are fight more for the frequencies in the track without sidechaining.

The second part of the evening is reserved for the Frenchman Julien Chaptal, who speaks in plain English about how he creates his tracks in Ableton Live. Using an amount of 30 clips with sounds like kicks, hi-hats, snares, stabs and shakers he jams a rough version of a full dance track in notime, while comfortably smoking a cigarette on the podium. He also shows what you can do by automating effects like delay and reverb in Ableton Live. In addition, he answers questions from the public about the usage of effects and his favourite plug-ins.

After the masterclass the public could do some networking, ask questions to the presenters and have a nice beer. The TWSTd Producers Masterclass is a must for beginning and advanced Ableton Live users. So if you produce or want to produce with the sequencer, be sure to watch the events of TWSTd and Studio 80.


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