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How to Create a Global Side Chain Source in Reason

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If you are working in Reason it's highly likely you will be utilising the side chain capability of the MClass compressor. As with everything in Reason the process of setting up a side chain is totally open-ended and because of this it's possible to use one sound as a global side chain source, across a whole mix.

Even though there are several ways to do this I find that using a Redrum drum sampler in conjunction with one or more Spider audio splitters works very well. Here's how...

Step 1: The Reason Project

So, you've got a pretty good project or loop running in Reason but if you are using lot's of grooves, busy sequences or continuous baselines you might find that things can get a little hectic. In situations like this some side chaining synced with the kick drum can really clean things up.

Here is my loop without any side chaining. We'll now look at the process I use to create several side chain streams from the same source. As ever I'm sure many of you have your own methods for doing this... this is only one ;)

The untreated Reason project.

The Reason project with no side chaining.

Step 2: Adding Compressors

The first step is to add an Mclass compressor to every element you want to 'duck'. You want to focus on instruments that are playing constantly or are masking the drums or percussion in any way.

I've strapped compressors on a synth line, vocal sample sequence, bass line and strings. By selecting your chosen devices when you create your compressors, all your routing will be done for you. Obviously at this point all you'll heat is some light compression from the default settings. Next up we'll create a side chain source...

The compressors are added to selected elements.

The routing is automatic.

Step 3: Adding a Redrum

I like to use a totally dedicated source for side chaining purposes. This way you have total control over when it plays and how it plays. Also it doesn't have to be heard in the mix, this means you can have your side chain effect present even when your actual kick drum is not present. This is great for breakdowns etc.

Using a Redrum as the side chain source.

So load up a Redrum and load your kick drum sound into the first slot, I've opted for the same sound I've used in the mix, I find this gives you a certain amount of consistency. Now simply copy the pattern of your main kick into the Redrum's step sequencer. At this point unplug your Redrum from the mixer or any other input.

Make sure your Redrum is not connected at this point.

Step 4: Setting Up the First Side Chain

Create a spider merger/splitter in easy reach of the Redrum. Now route the output from the first slot of the Redrum to the main splitter input on the right of the Spider's rear panel.

Creating a Spider splitter/merger.

Now route the first splitter output to one of your compressors side chain input. You should now be able to see the kick drums pattern effecting the compressor's gain reduction. At this point you can adjust the compressor's settings so the intensity of the effect is suitable.

Routing the Redrum to the compressor through the Spider.

I have applied the effect to the synth loop so you can hear it action. Here it is both with and without the effect...

The synth loop un effected.

The synth loop with side chaining applied.

The compressor is now receiving the side chain signal.

Step 5: Routing Further Side Chains

Next you can just repeat the process and route the side chain source to other compressors in your mix using the Spider's other outputs. You can now hear all the side chains in action. Not only does it give your drums more prominence but also adds a very definite pumping effect.

Adding more routings.

Whether you love or hate this effect it is very popular in many forms of music at the minute and it's really straight forward in Reason using this method.

The mix with side chains in action.

The whole mix with side chaining appied.

Step 6: Using Multiple Spiders

Using this method is great for sending your new side chain source to exactly four compressors but beyond that multiple spiders are required. Creating a chain of splitters is easy simply route the last output from your first spider in the splitter input of the second, you not have four more slots to use.

Two Spiders chained together.

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