Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Audio-FX Plugins Chords Modulators Delay-plus

How to Side-Chain in Bitwig Studio: 4 Different Methods Explained

Tutorial | Jan 13, 2021

In this video, I showed how easy it is to side chain in Bitwig Studio. I demonstrated four different methods of side chaining, which include using a compressor plug-in, an audio sidechain modulator, a note sidechain, and an EQ plug-in. I also showed how to use the sidechain FX box to apply audio effects to the sidechain signal before it hits the analyzer. Lastly, I showed how to use the transient control to amplify or reduce the attack and sustain phases of a signal using a sidechain signal. Side chaining is not only for reducing the volume of a bass sound, it can be used for many creative effects.

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Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

What is side-chaining in Bitwig Studio?

Side-chaining in Bitwig Studio is a process of using a compressor or other dynamic devices to attenuate the volume of one sound based on the volume of another sound. This can be used to create a “ducking” effect, where one sound is faded out when another sound is played.

How do I side-chain in Bitwig Studio?

There are several ways to side-chain in Bitwig Studio. One way is to use a compressor plug-in with a side-chain input. You can then use an audio FX box to apply audio effects to the side-chain signal before it reaches the analyzer. Another way is to use an audio side-chain modulator which allows you to modulate the volume of a sound with the signal of another sound. You can also use a note sidechain modulator which triggers an envelope based on the note information of a sound. Additionally, you can use an EQ+ device to reduce the frequency of a sound based on the signal of another sound, or use a transient control device to amplify or reduce the attack phase of a sound based on the signal of another sound.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00.000] Hey guys, and welcome to the first tutorial video of the year 2021 on this channel, and
[00:07.000] this video is completely about side-chaining in Bitwig Studio.
[00:11.320] And I know that Madias recently made a nice video about side-chaining in Bitwig on his
[00:16.760] channel, and I highly recommend you to just watch it.
[00:20.720] What I want to have my own tutorial on my channel too, and also maybe add something to it
[00:26.360] that's not covered in this video.
[00:28.800] So let's start the video, have some fun, and side-chain all the things.
[00:36.400] Okay, so side-chaining in Bitwig is actually pretty easy, there are a lot of ways to do
[00:43.000] it, and I want to show you each of them.
[00:45.520] So we have here a super simple loop, or song running, it's a kick channel, a clap sound,
[00:52.640] a bass sound, and some chords synth.
[01:01.720] The super simple I made this in two minutes, and what it will do the job of explaining
[01:07.720] how this works in Bitwig.
[01:09.760] So what people usually mean when they say you need to side-chain this is that you basically
[01:16.480] duck a bass sound with the kick sound.
[01:20.120] So every time the kick drum plays, the bass sound goes away or fades down in volume, or
[01:27.760] you shape the volume basically of the bass sound with the kick drum.
[01:32.160] And normally you do this with the compressor, right?
[01:35.360] So people just load in a dynamic plug-in, and instead of using here the bass sound as
[01:43.240] an input, and changing the threshold, right, the ratio, the knee setting, and volume
[01:54.880] shape the bass sound basically with itself, you replace the sound of the analyzer with
[02:02.800] the second chain, which in our case here is the kick drum, and I choose your e-kick post.
[02:09.080] So now we have the e-kick in here in the analyzer, what we apply, we still apply the volume
[02:17.440] shaping to the current track with just the bass sound.
[02:37.640] So you can see we get the kick signal in here, what we apply the volume shaping to the
[02:43.360] bass sound.
[02:44.520] So this is basically what people mean when they say you need to side-chain something, or
[02:49.960] you need to side-chain the bass with the kick, okay?
[02:53.000] So you basically take a second signal, use it in the analyzer, and apply the volume shaping
[02:59.880] to the current track.
[03:01.640] On an interesting note, the dynamics plug-in actually has a side-chain FX box here down
[03:06.800] below on the right side, and you can apply audio FX on the side-chain signal before it hits
[03:13.520] the analyzer.
[03:14.520] So when we open this here, we can apply for instance an EQ2, and maybe remove the top
[03:21.120] end of the kick drum before it hits the analyzer, to get rid of some distortions or some overtones.
[03:30.520] Just let the punch through to the analyzer, or we can kind of create some look ahead functionality
[03:38.120] where the compressor knows beforehand what's happening next, so we can implement a time
[03:44.080] shift device, and just track the side-chain signal a bit earlier, or it hits the analyzer.
[03:55.040] So this is also something you can do with the side-chain FX box here.
[04:00.480] So you can filter out or apply audio effects on the side-chain signal.
[04:05.720] Pretty helpful sometimes, not every time, but sometimes it's pretty nice to have.
[04:10.120] So this is one way of doing it, with the compressor plug-in over the dynamics device in Bitvic
[04:18.080] Studio, because you have here a side-chain input.
[04:22.560] And you can also apply some FX to the kick sound before it goes into the analyzer, so
[04:30.120] we can use maybe a low-cut, high-cut, and just remove certain frequencies you don't want
[04:35.480] to have in your side-chain signal.
[04:38.240] So this is one way of doing it.
[04:40.240] The second way is because ducking something or just fade something away in volume doesn't
[04:47.120] need to have a compressor involved.
[04:50.480] You can just use an audio side-chain modulator, which is also an analyzer here, and you can
[04:59.040] get here the signal of the kick-charm in here.
[05:05.160] And use it in the analyzer to generate some kind of modulation signal.
[05:09.840] And to get the clean signal out of the kick-charm, we can narrow down here the frequencies to the
[05:17.320] important frequencies, which is around 100Hz for the kick-charm.
[05:22.280] And you can see we generate here a nice signal at the top left, and we can use this signal
[05:28.040] to modulate something.
[05:34.400] And in our case, it's of course the volume.
[05:36.680] We want to reduce the volume of the Polysen, which is our baseline generator.
[05:44.040] And now every time the kick-charm plays, we generate the signal, and the signal modulates
[05:49.480] here the output volume of the Polysen.
[05:56.240] And as you can see, you have all kinds of control over the analyzer.
[06:01.520] You can change the slope or the attack in the decay here, the rise and the fall knobs.
[06:06.080] And you can also amplify the effect of the pumping.
[06:09.520] If you want to have a pretty heavy pumping bass sound, you can just amplify here basically
[06:16.000] the input of the sidechain, or in our case the amplitude of the kick sound.
[06:29.080] So the more you basically gain the kick, the more you modulate your signal, or the more
[06:38.520] the signal you generate, which then modulates the output even more.
[06:43.520] So this is the second way of doing it by using the audio sidechain modulator.
[06:51.440] And there's another sidechain modulator, which is called note sidechain.
[06:58.160] And it's the same procedure, basically.
[07:02.520] You have here an envelope, and we get here our kick sound.
[07:08.280] But in this case, it's not the kick amplitude, or the wave sound, or the audio stream coming
[07:15.960] out of the kick drum, or the kick device.
[07:19.880] It's basically the note information itself, because you can see we have here the e-kick,
[07:25.640] and we have note clips over there to trigger basically the kick device.
[07:31.960] And you use this note information here to trigger this envelope.
[07:37.440] And this envelope then generates a signal, and this signal is used then to modulate
[07:42.960] something.
[07:43.960] In our case here, it's the volume knob again to reduce.
[07:50.400] We can remove this here, or just leave this in.
[07:56.760] So it's the same effect.
[07:59.680] But because we use your note clips or note information, we can use the note sidechain
[08:05.880] to trigger an envelope, which triggers the volume knob.
[08:11.520] And the benefit of this is it's much cleaner, and we don't need to analyze an audio signal.
[08:16.000] And it's probably also much faster.
[08:19.080] And as you can see, you can make this envelope pretty steep and fast.
[08:24.600] So it's nice for precision sidechaining tasks.
[08:31.360] Okay, so the third way of basically ducking a bass sound with the kick drum is by not
[08:39.720] using it on the bass sound or instrument itself.
[08:44.960] We can just remove this here.
[08:47.960] We can just use a tool device, which has just a volume knob in here, right?
[08:54.560] And we can use the modulators on here.
[08:57.080] So maybe we start with the audio sidechain.
[09:01.960] And we modulate your the volume.
[09:06.760] Exactly like we did it on the Polysen itself.
[09:15.200] Just get the e-kick in here, narrow the signal a bit down to the kick drum itself, change
[09:21.120] your attack and release.
[09:24.680] And now we have the same effect here with tool device, which is just a volume knob, right?
[09:31.240] The main benefit of this method is that you can just grab this tool device, use control
[09:40.000] and see for copying this.
[09:42.960] Go to a different channel.
[09:44.600] In this case here, it's our, yeah, chord synth.
[09:49.200] And then we just paste it into here, right?
[09:52.800] Without having to cloning or copying modulators over two different devices, then you have
[09:59.920] to map to a different volume knob or et cetera, right?
[10:06.240] In this case, you just copy and paste the tool device to different channels.
[10:12.440] And you can clone the same behavior to different channels by still having here the kick drum
[10:19.920] essence sidechain signal and modulating the volume knob exactly like you did it on a
[10:26.240] different channel, right?
[10:27.600] So you can go here to all these tracks and just hit control and V, insert the tool device
[10:32.920] and have the same tucking effect applied to this channel.
[10:37.800] So this is the third way of doing it.
[10:40.680] And I usually do it exactly this way because I can just copy or clone these devices pretty
[10:47.320] easily.
[10:49.080] And there's the method of using an EQ.
[10:51.520] So we can go here and use an EQ plus and I use EQ plus for a reason and I'll show you
[10:56.760] in a minute why maybe insert here just another tool device at the end so I can move this
[11:01.760] over here.
[11:03.080] So now we have the bass sound in here analyzed.
[11:10.280] And we click the EQ plus device, we go down here and can use a reference and we can use
[11:16.080] the EQ as an input and we have basically now the analyzer overlaying the signal of the
[11:24.560] kick drum over the bass sound and it looks like this.
[11:27.680] As you can see on purple, purple line is basically the kick drum playing on its own channel.
[11:35.360] And we don't want to duck actually the whole channel with the volume knob.
[11:39.320] We want to just reduce the frequencies of the kick drum.
[11:43.880] As we go in here, use the audio side chain and yeah, insert one band, maybe this one
[11:51.040] here, reduce the volume of this just a bit.
[11:58.000] And we use the kick drum here as an input, narrow it down to the important frequencies
[12:06.040] like this and every time kick drum plays, now we have a reduction in the frequency band
[12:12.360] over here.
[12:13.360] And we can place the EQ at exactly the right frequency.
[12:25.880] So this way you don't actually duck the whole channel or the whole frequency spectrum
[12:30.920] you just reduce the volume of a certain frequency band, which is in some cases preferable.
[12:38.240] Okay, so this is the fourth way of doing it.
[12:43.040] And there's also another way of doing it and we are using transient control for this.
[12:52.200] Transient control is basically to amplify or to reduce the attack phase or to amplify
[12:58.280] or reduce the sustain phase of a signal and you usually get your signal in.
[13:06.840] And it recognizes or shows you where the attacks are of the sound, where are the sustain
[13:12.400] phases are and you can just step in here and amplify each of these parts, right?
[13:19.720] But we can also use a side chain signal as you can see at the top, it's the same side
[13:24.160] chain symbol here again and we can use the kick drum here as an input.
[13:29.440] So every time or this way basically we analyze the kick drum signal and every time we have
[13:36.960] a attack phase in the kick drum signal, we can amplify something in our bass signal.
[13:48.080] As you can see here at the bottom, every time we have a kick drum, we amplify the signal
[13:54.280] over here so we can apply volume shaping to our bass track with the transient control.
[14:02.040] But we want to actually duck down the volume so we have to reduce this here or go to the
[14:06.920] negative range.
[14:08.680] So as you can see we have here a nice volume reduction so you can use this to basically
[14:22.160] side chain a bass signal too.
[14:25.480] So transient control is also nice to use and it's just a different way of doing it.
[14:35.000] Then we can use the audio side chain for something else.
[14:39.320] For instance as I explained in the beginning, we don't need to use the side chain for lowering
[14:48.360] the volume of something, we can also increase the volume or we can change something else.
[14:54.960] And for instance we are on the chord sound here and we apply here an audio side chain
[15:08.640] modulator, we get here the kick drum and post and this time we modulate here the cutoff.
[15:19.640] So every time the kick drum hits we open up the filter which can lead to interesting
[15:33.280] effect.
[15:43.760] And yeah maybe we use delay in the end, delay one and when you use the delay in full frequency
[15:54.520] mode here so we don't filter out any frequencies and to use zero feedback and the mix at 100 percent
[16:02.400] it's basically just an offset, we can offset the sound by a certain amount on the beat
[16:08.880] grid for instance here just two or 16 notes, delay so this is the original track so every
[16:22.680] time the kick drum hits basically we open the filter and now we offset it by two beats
[16:29.640] here so we get some kind of off beat feeling because every time in between the kicks here
[16:45.880] we actually open the filter because we delay the signal by two beats okay so this is also
[16:53.560] a way of using the side chain for something creative you don't need to actually reduce
[16:59.800] just only the volume so maybe we use another one here and we can maybe use the clap sound
[17:06.840] here and open this one maybe we change the sync here and let's see how this sounds.
[17:36.400] So now basically the clap sound also shapes the chord sound and the kick drum also and
[17:46.920] the nice effect of this is that you basically clue all your tracks a bit better together
[17:53.560] instead of just routing everything into one bus, throw a compressor on it and try to
[18:00.760] you know clue everything together this way with this you kind of create some connections
[18:08.600] between tracks, between sounds and they kind of seem to work together this way so the audio
[18:16.840] side chain modulators actually pretty powerful in a lot of ways not only to just remove certain
[18:23.520] sounds because you need space for the kick drum so yeah keep this mind side chaining is
[18:31.480] not only for reducing the volume of the bass sound it's made for all kinds of creative
[18:37.160] effects and that's it for this video thanks for watching if you have some questions then
[18:42.400] again leave your questions in the comments below I try to answer them or join my discord
[18:47.960] leave a like if you like the video or learn something new or maybe subscribe to the channel
[18:53.080] thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video bye.