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How to Create a Ducking Delay

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A ducking delay is a technique that is a very widely used in almost all areas of music and audio production. Essentially, it is a delay effect that uses the power of side-chaining to create interesting effects such as applying the delay only when there is no audio signal present on the track.

Side-chaining is the technique where a certain effect is applied and it will be activated when the other effect that is chained to it has reached a certain threshold. This effect is really useful in areas such as podcasting and radio plays, where you might have to apply a certain filter or effect when the volume level reaches a certain threshold. Compressors are very frequently side-chained with kicks and other instruments.

How to Create a Ducking Delay

Before you set up the side-chains, you will need a basic vocal track on which you can assign the delay effect that is to be side-chained. You can also use any other track you want to add the delay effect on. But make sure that the volume of this track is well adjusted so that the effect can be heard properly.

Once you have the vocal track ready, duplicate the track, so that the events on this track will silence the delay effect. Insert a PingPongDelay effect from the effect menu of the first track and add it on that track. Now, adjust the effect settings for the delay according to your need and activate the side chain button.

Select the second track and open the Output Routing pop-up menu and select the PingPongDelay effect that you created for the vocal track. Adjust the volume of the second track so that the effect will be activated on all levels of volume. 

If this is not calibrated properly, the effect may not be very pronounced in areas of low volume. Make sure that you keep a moderate volume on the track and experiment with the delay settings to get the desired effect.

You can also add a compressor with moderate settings to adjust the volume to suit the effect better.


Side-chaining is something that every music producer and everyone who works with audio and music should know. With proper techniques, you will be able to create interesting effects, change the modulations, add exciting delay effects, dynamics etc. Ducking delay can be used creatively in many situations and will help in creating interesting effects and make the tracks more interesting to listen to.  

Proper side-chaining will help you to spend less time on automating the track and changing minute settings to make the effect to work.

So next time that you are working on a song and want to create a delay effect which is activated only at certain levels of volume, try creating a ducking delay effect using the side-chain technique. This will help you spend less time on fixing the effects and to concentrate more on the creative side of the songs. What are your favorite uses of side-chaining? Comment below.

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