Sidechain: Compressor VS Volume Shaper. What Should I Choose?
Updated: Jan 3
If you are working with electronic dance music, you know that it has that signature “pumping” sound. A compressor has different parameters like attack, release, and ratio, for example. It is a great tool that you can use for sidechaining too. But today, let us focus on the alternative way so you can decide which one fits you best. There are many ways to approach the same thing in music, which is why it is so fun!
NOTE: This is volume automation, but basically, the result is the same as it would be with the sidechain compression.
HOW TO USE A VOLUME SHAPER
I prefer a volume shaper over a compressor as it has fewer controls and is easier to use. I am not against complex plugins or tools for mixing, but sometimes, I prefer more straightforward tools. Here are some quick tips on how to use volume shapers. First, if you use the LFO Tool, it has a great function where it can show you your sound wavelength. You can do this by ear, and it is not as crucial, but it might be nice to double-check the length with an analyzer. The next step is to define how long your kick is. After that, we can adjust the ducking volume envelope in the plugin. If your volume shaper has a multiband function, I recommend applying a low pass filter up to 300 Hz. However, you can experiment here and see what works for your track. Sometimes you can sidechain the top frequencies as well to make the attack of the kick more audible.
I recommend using a volume shaper VST for sidechaining if you make EDM, as it produces a much cleaner sound than a compressor. But, of course, it is not wrong at all to use a compressor for that purpose. However, at the end of the day, it is up to you. So, I wanted to share my approach, and hopefully, it will help you too!