How do I use external sidechain in my DAW?

This article explains how to use an external sidechain signal with native UAD plug-ins in various DAWs. The following native UAD plug-ins support external sidechain input:

  • API 2500 Bus Compressor
  • API Vision Channel Strip
  • Capitol Mastering Compressor 

For a detailed explanation of how to use sidechaining with native UAD plug-ins, see the plug-ins manual page here

Configuring a Sidechain in Your DAW

Each DAW handles external sidechaining differently. Click on the preferred DAW below to access its specific steps:

Logic Pro

Note: the steps for Logic Pro are also available in this video.

  1. Load a native plug-in that can be sidechained.
    In this example, we are loading the Capitol Mastering Compressor on our Synth Bass track.
  2. Open the plug-in window and click the Sidechain slider button to enable the functionality.
  3. In the upper header of the plug-in, click the Side Chain drop-down menu and select the track you want to use as a sidechain source. In this example, we are sidechaining our Synth Bass track to the Drums audio track in our project.

Ableton Live

Note: the steps for Ableton Live are also available in this video.

  1. Load a native UAD plug-in that can be sidechained. In this example, we are loading the API 2500 Bus Compressor VST3 plug-in on a track labeled Synth Bass. We also have another track, labeled Drums, that we will use as our sidechain source in the next step.

  2. In the plug-in tab located in the Device View Selector at the bottom, select a Sidechain source.
    In this example, we are choosing our Drums track.
    1_SC_Live_LoadingAPI2500.png
  3. In the upper header of the plug-in window, the Sidechain switch will enable automatically*, as shown below. You can disable it to easily A/B the resulting sound, if necessary, without changing sidechain settings.
    2_SC_Live_SidechainSlideButtonEnabled.png

Important: The sidechain switch toggles automatically with the VST3 plug-in, but not the Audio Units version. When using the Audio Units version you will need to toggle the sidechain switch to enable.

Cubase and Nuendo

Note: the steps for Cubase and Nuendo are also available in this video.

  1. Insert a native UAD plug-in that can be sidechained onto the desired channel.
    1_SC_Cubase_InsertPlugin.png
  2. Open the plug-in window and enable sidechaining within Cubase or Nuendo.
    2_SC_Cubase_EnableSidechainCubase.png
  3. Hit the settings cog to the right of the enable sidechain button. Select “Add Side-Chain Source” and select the desired track.

    Note: the track name in this example is “Sidechain source.”

    3_SC_Cubase_AddSidechainSource.png
  4. Enable the sidechain input on the plug-in.
    4_SC_Cubase_EnableSidechainPlugin.png

Pro Tools

Note: the steps for Pro Tools are also available in this video.

  1. Insert the native UAD plug-in onto the desired channel.
  2. Open the plug-in window and select the desired bus to enable side-chaining within Pro Tools.
  3. On the track that feeds the side-chain input, create a send to the previously selected bus. In this case, Bus 1 will be used.
  4. Turn up the send to a desired level.
  5. Confirm side-chaining is enabled in the plug-in.

    Note: Pro Tools should automatically enable side-chaining in the plug-in once the side-chain input has been selected.




Articles in this section