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How to Use Side-Chain Compression to Make Rock Guitars Stay out of the Vocal’s Way

How to Use Side-Chain Compression to Make Rock Guitars Stay out of the Vocal’s Way

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Published by: Artist Recording on Dec 08, 2012
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05/21/2014

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08/12/12 15.12How to Use Side-Chain Compression to Make Rock Guitars Stay out of the Vocal’s WayPagina 1 di 5http://audio.tutsplus.com/tutorials/production/how-to-use-side-…medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+audiotuts+%28Audiotuts%2B%29
How to Use Side-Chain Compression to Make Rock GuitarsStay out of the Vocal’s Way
Choices, choices. Should you put the guitar upfront, like the egomaniacal guitaristyou are, or should you actually put the vocal in the forefront, where it actually belongs. Such difficult decisions in the life of a mixing engineer.*sigh*But what if! Oh, you wish upon a star and ask, could I do both? Really?Well, yes son. You can. And there are several ways to make your thick rock guitarpart play nice with the vocalist. Even if they hate each other in the studio, there’s noreason to have them fight in the mix as well.
The Simple Way Towards Separation
Before we get to the sneaky stuff, there are actually quite a few simple ways to make both the guitar and vocal fit together.We’re working with this hard rock song, where the thick guitar really gets in the wayof the verse vocal:It’s not awful, but you can definitely hear frequencies clashing whenever the twoplay together. Before you bend over backwards with fancy mixing tricks, it’s usefulto see if the basics work beforehand.
Volume
Can you lower the volume of the guitar track? Will it fit better then? You don’t wantto lower the volume too much because that guitar still has to pack a punch.Let’s hear it with about 2 dBs down.Sounds a little better. The frequencies are still clashing a little so maybe we can trimsome of the EQ of the guitar to make it sit better
EQ
 
08/12/12 15.12How to Use Side-Chain Compression to Make Rock Guitars Stay out of the Vocal’s WayPagina 2 di 5http://audio.tutsplus.com/tutorials/production/how-to-use-side-…medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+audiotuts+%28Audiotuts%2B%29
Here’s the guitar with a 4 dB cut in the 3 kHz range, right in the range of the vocal.That clears it up even better.Now those octave chord stabs from the guitar don’t interfere as much with the vocal.Smoothing out the higher middle frequencies like that is actually a great go-to trick when you feel like an instrument is interfering with the vocal. That’s the frequencyrange our ears are most sensitive to so giving the vocal a little space by reducing thesame area in another instrument, in this case the guitar, will make the vocal mix sit better.
Automation
Automation is also a good way to make the guitar get out of the way whenever thevocals are singing. You could automate the volume so that whenever the vocals areon the guitar goes down in volume. However, that takes time and can get frustrating.A better way to do the same thing is to use side-chain compression to compress theguitar into submission. Whenever the vocals come on, the compressor pushes the gui-tar down in the mix. This can create some interesting sounds.Here’s how to do it.
Side-Chain Compression for Guitar and Vocals
 
08/12/12 15.12How to Use Side-Chain Compression to Make Rock Guitars Stay out of the Vocal’s WayPagina 3 di 5http://audio.tutsplus.com/tutorials/production/how-to-use-side-…medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+audiotuts+%28Audiotuts%2B%29
Step 1
Get everything mixed like you want. Cut the EQ out of the way of the vocal on theguitar and make everything sounds as good as you can.
Step 2
Insert a compressor on the guitar. Usually, this would be the second compressor onthe guitar. The first one would be the normal compressor you would use on theguitar, to even the levels and make it punchy. This second, side-chained one wouldonly be used for ducking the guitar out of the way.
Step 3
Sidechain it to the vocals. In Logic you can select any audio track in the side-chain box on your compressor. Other DAWs have similar ways of doing this.
Step 4
Configure your compressor so that it ducks the guitar out of the way whenever thevocals come in. I’m using the settings in the screenshot below:

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