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How to Create a Sidechained Mixing Template in Any DAW

Creating a sidechained mixing template can greatly enhance your music production workflow. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of setting up a sidechained mixing template that can be used with any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), such as FL Studio, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, Studio One, Pro Tools, and more. But first, let’s clarify some important terms.

Understanding Sidechaining: Sidechaining is an audio effect that involves one sound being triggered by the level of another sound. A common example is using a compressor on a bass track to reduce its volume whenever a kick drum hits.

Understanding Bussing: In audio engineering, a bus (also spelled “buss”) is a signal path used to combine or sum individual audio tracks together. Busses are typically used to group several audio tracks so they can be manipulated collectively, much like a single track.

Now, let’s delve into creating your sidechained mixing template.

Step 1: Create Busses

Begin by creating four busses, each with a specific purpose. Name them: Vocals, Ludes, Drums, and Background. You can start with these four, but if your project requires more busses, you can always add them later.

Step 2: Connect Outputs to Busses

Connect the output of each track or group to its respective bus. For example, route the output of your main vocal track or group to the Vocals bus. Do the same for your drum tracks, routing them to the Drums bus. If your project includes Prelude and Interlude music pieces, sum them together to the Ludes bus. Lastly, send chords and other background elements to the Background bus. If your project expands and requires additional groups and busses, simply repeat steps 1 and 2 as needed.

Step 3: Create Sidechains

In most music genres, vocals are the primary element that should stand out. Therefore, prioritize the Vocal bus and the Prelude/Interlude sections. Apply two sidechain compressors with a modest ratio of 1.4:1 to the Drums and Background busses, using the Vocals and Ludes busses as their sidechain triggers, respectively. Additionally, use a gentle sidechain compressor on the Background bus, triggered by the Drums bus. Keep the compression amount around 3 dB to maintain a balanced mix. Remember, less aggressive compression is often more effective.

Step 4: Save as Template

Don’t forget to save your project as a template at this stage for future use. If you’re unsure how to do this, you can find tutorials on YouTube that are specific to your DAW.

In this guide, you’ve learned how to create a sidechained mixing template that can be used in any DAW. This template will help you achieve a more controlled and balanced mix in your music production projects. Happy mixing!