I wanted to divide this subject into 2 parts. The first part is a plain approach to sidechain compression in FL Studio with native plug-ins. Whereas the second is about more complex techniques.
So, here we will consider three methods of creating that pumping (ducking) effect with audio examples.
For the sake of clarity I’ll be using only a kick drum and a bassline.
Method №1: Sidechain compression using Fruity Limiter
1. First of all, we need to assign our kick and bassline from channel rack to the mixers tracks.
2. Then route the channel of the kick drum to the one of the bassline.
3. It’s time to insert the Fruity Limiter on the bassline track.
4. The Knobs.
THRES (2) – as soon as a signal has reached the threshold, compressor starts its work. Knee – determines curve of transition between compressed and uncompressed sounds. RATIO is the ratio of compression. GAIN (1) – the level of an output signal.
Envelope (3): ATT (attack) – responsible for how quickly the compressor reacts to the sidechain signal. REL (release) – adjusts compressor reset time. In addition to this, there is also a SUSTAIN knob which sets the duration over which the input is averaged. While CURVE (tension) – sets the Attack and Release curves at once.
In SIDECHAIN field (4) you must choose the channel where a signal comes from.
How to set Fruity Limiter for Sidechain Compression
I usually start like that: I set the ratio between 2-5:1 and only after start to play with the threshold value and knee until it ‘ducks’ according to desired effect (nevertheless, for beginner it would be better to start from visually setting the threshold and only after move to the ratio and knee).
Knee value is not as important as the attack and release. However, sometimes it is a really useful tool. I often set the Knee at around 30-40 %.
The Attack time I like to set in 4-10ms range to softer the character of the compression. And the Release from 50 to 300ms (depends on a kick sample and effect I look for). To make the kick drum more definite I recommend to begin from 100.
Sometimes the compressor releases too early and the SUSTIAN parameter might help you to solve this problem. In most cases, 1 to 10ms work well.
Having done it, chances are, you will have to even the level of an output (makeup) in account of gain reduction. There is a knob for this purpose – GAIN (1). It works as post-compressor and pre-limiter.
The sound before Fruity Limiter:
The sound after Fruity Limiter:
Method №2: Sidechain compression using Fruity Peak Controller
Another plugin to make that ‘pumping effect in FL Studio‘ is the Fruity Peak Controller.
1. In the mixer window select the channel of your kick drum and put the Fruity Peak Controller on it.
2. Right-click on the bassline channel fader and select ‘Link to controller…’.
3. Next, In field ‘Internal controller’ you should choose ‘Peak ctrl – Peak’. Press ‘Accept’.
Be aware of ‘Remove conflicts‘ checkbox. New link to target controller will replace any previous.
4. Let’s get down to controlls.
BASE – base output value of controlled parameter (offset).
VOL – amount of signal from kick applied to ‘BASE‘. It is a Bi-polar knob from -200% to +200%. Positive values do higher output, and negative do lower.
TENSION – the attack and release curve tension.
DECAY – peak decay speed.
Setting up the Fruity Peak Controller for sidechain compression
How will we use it? Initially, adjust the BASE level, then move to the VOL and leisurely lower the value. To make sidechain pumping effect we should use negative values. The amount of ‘gain reduction’ I have applied in this example is about 70%. Tension I usually set around +/-30%. Next, for clear sound of the kick I use decay somewhere from 20 to 60%.
The unprocessed sound:
The processed sound:
Method №3: Sidechain compression using Gross Beat
The last way to this EDM trick in FL Studio in this tutorial will be through the use of Gross Beat.
1. Insert Gross Beat from plugin window on the channel you want to compress.
2. Pick sidechain as shown in image. Edit tension and automation points by dragging. There is also attack and release knobs, which you have already learnt.
Shortcuts: While editing the automation points you may snap them to the grid holding ALT. If you need more precisly editing of tension use CTRL button on keyboard.
The thing I like in Gross Beat plugin is that you don’t have to link it to controller. Considering this, it could be said that It has a nice advantage over the Fruity Peak Controller and Fruity Limiter for making ghost kick effect.
Unprocessed Isolated bass track:
Gross Beat creates that ghost kick effect:
So, this was just basics for beginners. It is essential learning for everybody who makes electronic music, because sidechain compression is undoubtedly one of the most popular tricks in EDM, e. g. Trance music: everything from basses to arpeggios 90% of times treated with sidechain compression (Vivid examples are pads ducked by ghost kick).
As you have just seen it is not that difficult, that said, you have to spend some time figuring out the effect you need.
Advice: Do not stick to the same values and methods (as shown and written), try different ones and always use your ears! 😉
In the next article on this topic I want to show how to create pumping effect in FL Studio by means of 3rd Party plugings (FabFilter Pro-C, Waves C1, C6 etc, u-he Presswerk, and also Fruity Parametric EQ).