PreSonus Blog

Friday Tips: The Sidechained Spectrum

You’re probably aware that several Studio One audio processors offer sidechaining—Compressor, Autofilter, Gate, Expander, and Channel Strip. However, both the Spectrum Meter and the Pro EQ spectrum meter also have sidechain inputs, which can be very handy. Let’s look at Pro EQ sidechaining first.

When you enable sidechaining, you can feed another track’s output into the Pro EQ’s spectrum analyzer, while still allowing the Pro EQ to modify the track into which it’s inserted. When sidechained, the Spectrum mode switches to FFT curve (the Third Octave and Waterfall options aren’t available). The blue line indicates the level of the signal going through the Pro EQ, while the violet line represents the sidechain signal.

As a practical example of why this is useful, the screen shot shows two drum loops from different drum loop libraries that are used in the same song. The loop feeding the sidechain loop has the desired tonal qualities, so the loop going through the EQ is being matched as closely as possible to the sidechained loop (as shown by a curve that applies more high end, and a slight midrange bump).

Another example would be when overdubbing a vocal at a later session than the original vocal. The vocalist might be off-axis or further away from the mic, which would cause a slight frequency response change. Again, the Pro EQ’s spectrum meter can help point out any differences by comparing the frequency response of the original vocal to the overdub’s response.

The Spectrum Meter

Sidechaining with the Spectrum Meter provides somewhat different capabilities compared to the Pro EQ’s spectrum analyzer.

 

With sidechain enabled, the top view shows the spectrum of the track into which you’ve inserted the Spectrum Meter. The lower view shows the spectrum of the track feeding the sidechain. When sidechained, all the Spectrum Meter analysis modes are available except for Waterfall and Sonogram.

While useful for comparing individual tracks (as with the Pro EQ spectrum meter), another application is to help identify frequency ranges in a mix that sound overly prominent. Insert the Spectrum Meter in the master bus, and you’ll be able to see if a specific frequency range that sounds more prominent actually is more prominent (in the screen shot, the upper spectrum shows a bump around 600 Hz in the master bus). Now you can send individual tracks that may be causing an anomaly into the Spectrum Metre’s sidechain input to determine which one(s) are contributing the most energy in this region. In the lower part of the screen shot, the culprit turned out to be a guitar part with a wah that emphasized a particular frequency. Cutting the guitar EQ just a little bit around 600 Hz helped even out the mix’s overall sound.

Of course, the primary way to do EQ matching is by ear. However, taking advantage of Studio One’s analysis tools can help speed up the process by identifying specific areas that may need work, after which you can then do any needed tweaking based on what you hear. Although “mixing with your eyes” isn’t the best way to mix, supplementing what you hear with what you see can expedite the mixing process, and help you learn to correlate specific frequencies with what you hear—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • KAREN KINGDOM

    Thanks very informative … appreciate this.

  • Leo Bercoff

    Well, there are many useful tools Studio One has but poorly documented. Your posts reveals its greatnes. What about new “Save new version” way of working in SO v.4? It’s very weired, especially related with Project module (I’m talking about song name/version). Thanks a lot!

  • Martin Sch

    Love this. Thank you. There is so much to discover on these build in Plugins in Studio One. Always make me feel , that i do the best choice with Studio One Pro.
    But i have a wish: please do more tutorials or Posts like this in german too. Pleeeeaaassseee !!! Danke schön

  • Nick Osher

    Interesting. I did not know this . Very helpful and useful material. Love all you’re Articles. Can’t wait for the next one.

  • Very cool! thx

  • Anderton

    Thank you for the feedback! I never know what type of material will go over best, so the comments are very helpful in determining what kind of tips to publish in the future.

  • Esteban Nicolas Ruales Falconi

    Loved this article and how it was written. Very straight to the point! Thank you!