Jan 31, 2015

Tips'n Tricks #2 - Side Chaining Plugins in Reaper

Back with Tips'n Tricks. This time I'll show how to side chain plugins in Reaper. I'll demonstrate the trick with the Reaper stock gate plugin, and also the Reaper stock compressor.

There are lots and lots of useful situations for using side chains, so be sure to check this out if you are unfamiliar with side chaining, or if you are not sure how to do it.

What is side chaining?

Side chaining basically means that a plugin inserted in to a track, receives audio input from a another track or tracks. This input is then used to control the plugin effect on its track. Simple examples of using side chaining are a side chained gate (the track is "opened" or muted depending on another tracks) and a side chained compressor (makes a ducking effect on the track audio).

You can check out these examples in action from the following video. First you will hear a synth signal and a drum track independent from each other. This is followed by adding a side chained gate to the synth track and finally a side chained compressor. All plugins except the drums are Reapers own plugins; ReaSynth, ReaGate and Reacomp. Drums were quickly made with a EZdrummer preset.

Sidechaining Step by Step

Here's a step by step instruction on how side chain an effect. The process is identical with ReaGate and ReaComp.

1. Two tracks and a plugin

You need two tracks. One with the plugin (in this case the ReaGate) and a track that you wish to use to control its behaviour. Here we have a ReaSynth stem with the plugin (track named GATE), and a EZdrummer track to control the gate (track named DRUMS).

2. Give me a signal

The plugin needs to receive the audio signal from the drum track. Use the I/O button of the drum track and click Add new send. Select the target track from the drop-down menu. You can also do this from the target tracks I/O menu, by adding a new receive to it. If you don't want to mess with the menus, you can also drag the I/O button from the sending track to the receiving.

3. Side channel the signal

After adding the send, you need to target it to channels 3/4 so it doesn't mess up the main track. This way you can avoid the signal playback from the channel that receives it. This way the signal will only be used to control the plugin. After the connection to channels 3/4, you can actually see it on the signal meters also. From the picture below, you can see that the GATE track now has four signal bars (1/2 and 3/4) in place of the normal Left/Right meters (1/2).

4. Detect it!

You need to set the plugin to detect the new signal. The Detector input button will let you choose, which inputs control the plugins behavior. Select Auxiliary Input L+R from the drop down menu. In fact, if you wish to control the plugin just with the left auxiliary signal, you can choose Auxiliary input L and similarly to the right signal only.

5. Time to play!

Thats all folks! Now your plugin is side chained. You can check the audio routings by clicking the button from the top right. There you can see that we have four incoming signals, and only two are going out. Now just adjust the plugin controls to taste. You can use the preview filter output, to hear (and see) the signal used to control the plugin. This will help you adjust the knobs accordingly.

Have Fun!

Thanks for reading and be sure to check my other Tips'n Tricks:

1 comment:

  1. There's always something I forget :) It might be smart when assigning the send (from I/O menu) to change the send signal from "post fader (post pan)" to "pre-FX". That way the side chain signal stays the same even adjusting faders or FX. That way the plugin doesn't change behaviour even if you adjust, in this case the drums, volume or effects.