Pro Audio Files

Blending Live Kicks and a Drum Loop with Sidechain Compression


Hey, what’s up guys. David Glenn of,, and my new site is

More on that in a minute, but first, I’m going to talk to you about the track that I’ve got in front of me. This is an arrangement for an artist I’m doing an EP for. I’m mixing. His name is Devante Davis, he’s a sickly talented drummer, killing some skins for us today.

This one, I’m just mixing his drum tracks to a 2track, so we’ve got a loop with multiple songs. Zoom out, you see this is kind of a long one. We’ve got one song at the beginning, it transitions to another one, another one, there’s like, four different arrangements within this one song.

Well, towards the end of the song, I felt like whenever I had my kick and my kick sub, this is really meant to be emphasizing the drums and making sure the drums are heard.

He’s a drummer, he’s the artist, and this is his kind of demo reel EP to start making a name for himself, which hopefully I’ll be playing a very small part of helping him do that by killing these mixes, so moving on from that.

I want to control the loop a little bit with the kick and sub kick tracks, and how I’m doing that is I’m going to take side-chain compression, just like I would use for kick and bass, and I’m going to apply it using the kick to push down the kick that’s in the loop. I want to be able to control that low end.

I like it whenever the live kick isn’t hitting. I don’t mind the loop dominating the low-end, but when that live kick comes in, this is his record, I want his kick to smack, and I want his kick to be the one that dominates. So this is very simple. I’ve got a live kick here, I’ve got the sub kick here.

Those both go to a kick level. I’m treating them a little bit together, and them I’m sending from that kick buss to the kick SC, and I’m sending a moderate level there into the FabFilter Pro-MB. This could be any compressor that allows you to do frequency dependent side-chain compression. You could even use the WavesFactory TrackSpacer, but I prefer the FabFilter Pro-MB for this, and pretty much I’ve just got a band down here. 115 and below is going to be affected, so whenever this kick hits, it’s going to trigger that compressor according to the threshold and the attack and release settings. The live kick is going to push down the beat.

Let’s listen to the loop so you can hear what we’re working with. That would be helpful.


Okay. So it’s not being affected by the side-chain compressor because there’s nothing going into it. That’s just the 2track, I have no control over the balances or anything like that. I’ve done a little bit of processing. You can see, I’ve made the low end mono and pushed up the mids a little bit to give it some width. I’ve done some M/S EQ to pull out some vocals that I wanted to stick out around the mid-range, and then I pulled down some of the muddiness that was on the sides. I treated it with some M/S EQ, if you want to see that, message me and I’ll go over it.

The gist of this tutorial – now let’s take a listen with just the kick drum and you’ll see what it’s doing right here. When they hit at the same time, you’ll see this is pushing down the low-end in the 2track.

[drums and loop play]

So that’s just the kick. Now, what I want to do is I want to play it in context. Then I’m going to A/B it.


Here’s before the side-chain compressor.

[song plays]

It’s getting a little bit messy for me. The low-end I’m just not feeling. It’s not tight enough.

So what I’m going to do now, I’m going to instantiate this FabFilter Pro-MB side-chain compression on the low-end, and let’s see what happens.


Without it.

Let’s solo this band one last time here.

[drums play]

That’s going to be just on the track. Let’s make the send pre-fader and then let’s solo.


Then we can drop the volume.


You can hear just how much tighter that gets if I bypass this and then open up the range.


Anyways, I think that you get the point. You guys have seen my tutorial on side-chain compression from kick to bass, and this is the same exact principle, it’s just going to be a little bit different application.


David Glenn

David Glenn

David Glenn is a producer/engineer/musician based out of Orlando, FL. Credits include: Pablo Villatoro, Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew), Aimee Allen, and more. Learn more and get in touch at

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