The term “sidechaining” refers to a technique where the signal from one track is used as a trigger for another track’s effects.
Its most popular application is sidechain compression, where a signal (ex. a kick) triggers the compressor on another track (ex. a pad). Sidechaining is perhaps best known for defining the pumping sound of EDM drops, but it has since evolved to become an integral technique across almost all genres of electronic music.
Setting up the routing needed for sidechaining can be a tedious process, especially if you do it on every track you make. To help you streamline your workflow and achieve some intricate sound design, we’ve compiled three third-party plugins that are great for sidechaining.
Check out our video below to learn more about the three plugins and hear them in action.
We’ve also highlighted each plugin and summarized some key points from the video below.
Developed by Cableguys and Nicky Romero, Kickstart is a plugin that boasts simplicity as its best feature. It consists of a large Dry/Wet knob, 16 preset shapes, and three different sync settings. While it doesn’t have the ability to save presets, Kickstart is without doubt the cheapest quality option out there right now.
Developed by Xfer Records (the developer of the popular wavetable synth Serum), LFOTool is a powerhouse sidechaining plugin. It has a point-and-tension-based curve editor and 12 graphs that allow for 12 simultaneous curves. It also does filter modulation and includes over 50 filter shapes. Finally, LFOTool can split the input into two frequency bands and apply modulation to one and bypass the other.
Also developed by Cableguys, Volumeshaper 5 packs in more features than Kickstart at a slightly higher price. One of its great added features is its ability to generate independent volume modulation curves for three different frequency bands. If you want even more modulation shenanigans, you can get ShaperBox, which lets you modulate time, filter, panning, width, volume, and more.
Do you have a favorite plugin for sidechaining that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
August 27, 2019