Reaper Part 6: Side-Chaining

G.W. Childs returns with a tutorial on how to get side-chaining in Reaper 4. As well as showing the basics, he shares some time-saving tricks too.  

So far we've covered a great many interesting thing, or two about Reaper. But, I thought it was high time that we got in to some regular, old production techniques.

One of the most basic, yet most widely used of production techniques these days tends to be side-chaining. Producers use this feature for many, many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is making room for the all-powerful kick drum.

You've probably run into a situation where you really needed this feature, too! Think back to this situation and see what you think. You've got a really thick bass synth, and a really thick bass drum. Every time the bass drum hits, however, it hits on top of the bass line, and you get double the mud!

One way to get around this particular scenario is with side-chaining. Through the use of discrete, virtual audio channels, an additional output from the kick drum goes in to the compressor that's assigned to the bass synth. When the kick hits, it causes the compressor on the bass synth to close down, making it sound like the bass synth ducks out in volume.

This particular technique listed above has been used to great effect in modern electronic music over the last several years. Producers will simply sustain a low synth note, side-chain the synth notes compressor to an incoming kick signal, and suddenly there is an 8th note bass line fading in and out in perfect synchronization with the kick drum. But, because a compressor has attack and release functions on it, you can also make the bass fade in and out in time with the kick drum, which causes this hypnotic effect. Quite cool, and very done.

Where Reaper Fits into All of this

Reaper does allow the side-chaining functions that we have all come to expect and love. Though, I will say that it's not as easily picked up as one would hope. The new look of Reaper 4 does make things a little more '

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


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