Clean Sidechain Pumping! Ducks 0.5

A very important component to modern, loud electronic music is the sidechain pump.
A popular tool for these things until recent years was a compressor, used to duck the rest of the mix when a kick/snare hits its threshold. Unfortunately, this does not provide much control, and pollutes the rest of the mix in order to achieve a relatively simple thing. In recent years, a more powerful and simpler method to achieve the sidechain pump has begun to popularize itself, as well as a paradigm change, instead of compression, we’re Ducking. The new paradigm is such that the mix, apart from the most prominent components (i.e kicksnare), is grouped into a single effects send, into a VCA or limiter that controls the entire mix’s output. These are then controlled by a pure, clean envelope that can be tuned precisely to the user’s desires, achieving full control and cleaning up the process of achieving the pump effect. The envelope is retriggered by a MIDI clip or a noise signal whenever ducking is desired.

In more recent times, as this method gained traction, more powerful tools to clean up the ducking process and provide sample-accurate, declicked precision, cleaning up kicksnare transients, have come to be used by artists. An example is Gatekeeper, which you probably know of, among others. The desired effect is that the mix gets ducked cleanly and precisely under the kicksnare components’ transient content, without producing clicks that pollute the rest of the mix.

My methodology with this practice is to split the ducking process into two or three channels, which I call Hard Duck, Soft Duck and Short Duck.

Into the Hard Duck channel I funnel my bass instruments, this channel would have an exponential negative ducking envelope that silences the bass instruments completely until the kick/snare’s aggressive mid/lowend are silent.

Into Soft Duck I usually channel the rest of the track, where I can have less agressive ducking with a linear/logarithmic negative curve, sometimes I don’t even silence the signal completely as it would be too agressive.

Short Duck is used for instruments that are in the mid/mid-highs and up, where I want 0 ducking, but I still want to clean them off kick and snare transients so as to not produce clipping. This is usually a very short exponential negative envelope.

I found that the skewed sine envelope is good for producing ducking. For the purpose of simplifying the ducking process in the ER-301 I don’t have, I’ve created the attached package. Ducks 0.5 features Soft Duck with a more linear curve and Hard Duck with a more exponential ducking curve. The intended use-case is to put these at the end of any chain and feed it the kick/snare gate signals to create clean musical ducking.

  1. Feed your signal into the Trig/Gate inputs. This could be an analog Gx input or a global chain output.
  2. Set the Duration parameter, depending on your context you might want longer or shorter ducking.
  3. Set the Strength parameter, where 1 silences the signal completely when ducked.
  4. Listen to the ducks!

What are your opinions & workflows for sidechain pumps? Do you use that effect in your music?

Ducks.pkg (3.3 KB)

Future versions will have better envelopes & better handling of gate/trig signals.


I use ducking all the time, first with a preset, then later rewrote that as a middle layer unit.

In my live case the 301 is the mixer (as well as generating and processing) sounds, so each element in the music lives on its own global chain. Channel A and B are linked and used as the master out, so there’s a lot of (slightly hacked) mixers on there pulling from the global chains, the duck unit is processing everything to the left of it. I’m a simple man, so only one degree of ducking in my world…

Sounds like this:


That’s essentially my plan. So awesome. Nice track too!

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Thanks! Working with the 301 is always a balance of what would be optimal and want to do more. In general I feel the balance is about doing things that have the most impact with what CPU we have :slight_smile:

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I actually haven’t tested how phat these units are when it comes to CPU usage. Will check it later.

Two things come to mind:

  1. I’m not sure how CPU usage in the emulator translates to the real module… @odevices ?
  2. To @Worldwave: the balancing act I’m talking about is one of the things that’s practically impossible to get a sense of in the emulator.

Yeah I agree with you, I can only get simulated, self-contained results, on simple signals if ever. There is no better option at the moment, I’ve been trying to get an ER-301 for a while.

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I totally understand, and I think what you’re doing is waiting time very wisely spend!!!

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Very Nice. I realy like the richness of the Glitches.



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How did I miss this? Totally into better side chain processing right now to get more clarity into my mixes. Will give this a spin soon.

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I was looking for a better side-chain and found this thread, but I’m confused about the pkg file. Do they also work on v0.5? I’m on 0.6 but the package doesn’t install right. It puts the units in the menu but they are empty when added in a chain.

This is quite strange actually. Then again it might be the emulator causing me problems. I’ll take a look when I’m in the studio again.

You may also be installing it wrong, iirc packages are handled differently in 0.6? This package was made in 0.6 and should be installed using the package manager.

That is what I did, and it installed fine but with an empty unit as a result, weird. I was confused because the thread is called Ducks 0.5 though. Anyway, I’ll give it another go and report back.

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My bad! It works :slight_smile: I think I didn’t hit Enter to open the controls… and without triggering the unit audio passes through so I thought it didn’t work. Thanks for the unit, very useful.

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Glad you found it out! Yes they’re supposed to be completely transparent without triggering. Enjoy!


Awesome thread and thank you for the custom unit!
Wanted to share my side-chain technique. In my setup I mix all of my sound sources in the 301 via their own Global Chains. And one of those chains is just for my kick drum. So in the other Globals I add a VCA somewhere in the mixing chain (usually at the end) which is modulated negatively, by the incoming Kick signal and an envelope follower. This makes it easy to add a little attack, adjust the decay, and amount of the side-chaining.
You could do this without the Globals too, just use Mixer Units and route the side-chain signal locally.

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That’s cool. I actually used to do this kind of thing with FL Studio’s Fruity Limiter where I sidechained the kick into the compressor part. This unfortunately wasn’t clean/controllable enough for my (tbh very) specific needs, which resulted in solutions like Ducks! Glad to hear you liked it.

very nice. one thing i find very important in ducking (but also in compression in general, even without external key signals) is high pass filtering option on the sidechain. when ducking its very important when you use the actual kick as ext. key and not just its gate signal because some kick drums have very long tails that result in too much and too long gain reduction. usually the tails are entirely in the bass\sub bass area, so you can high pass the external signal adjusting it until you have only the desired part of the kick triggering the gain reduction.
in normal compression it is useful as well, because sometimes (example: bus compression on drums) the loudest signals tend to completely drive the gain reduction making the overall sound pump but that’s not always what you want musically. my two compressor custom units (which are far from perfect, i’m still trying to figure out other ways to emulate a real compressor, not very satisfied by my workarounds) both have external key and hp filtering.