Ring Mod Sidechain

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valankar
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Joined: 24 Sep 2016

Post 28 Mar 2022

Hi all,

Recently I learned about ring mod sidechain, mentioned in these videos:





Decided to do a deeper dive into it in these videos in case anyone interested:





Enjoy.

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Paralytik
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Post 07 May 2022

Wow, this is pretty insane. I've never heard about this technique before.

valankar
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Post 08 May 2022

It really has been a game-changer for me. Previously kicks might cause over 0db peaks with normal sidechaining, but with ring mod sidechaining those can peak at -4, -5 db. And it actually doesn't sound bad.

It definitely changes the way I mix though, as previously I would lower those kicks, or apply clipping, etc. So you really need to listen a lot more closely and not rely too much on metering (maybe for the better).

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orthodox
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Post 18 May 2022

Having seen that, I just thought of another technique that I can implement with compressors I have. The idea is to ring-modulate the kick with itself or "square" it in order to get uni-polar "rectified" signal and then use it to ring-mod the ducking target.

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selig
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Post 20 May 2022

Still the cleanest non distorting side chain I've come up with is cross fader. If the goal is to not raise the peak level while also not distorting the waveform in any way, it's the most accurate/surgical (and foolproof) way to accomplish this.
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valankar
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Joined: 24 Sep 2016

Post 14 Feb 2023

Hi all,

I did a newer video that is more Reaper focused, but can be applied to other DAWs. Just wanted to showcase ringmod sidechain with something a bit more musical. Hope its useful:


Still the cleanest non distorting side chain I've come up with is cross fader.
When I thought about this more, this is essentially what ringmod sidechain is doing, but at the sample level.

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selig
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Post 14 Feb 2023

valankar wrote:
14 Feb 2023
Hi all,

I did a newer video that is more Reaper focused, but can be applied to other DAWs. Just wanted to showcase ringmod sidechain with something a bit more musical. Hope its useful:


Still the cleanest non distorting side chain I've come up with is cross fader.
When I thought about this more, this is essentially what ringmod sidechain is doing, but at the sample level.
Not sure I follow - the distortion caused by ring mod would always be audible, no? If you duck a sine wave with ring mod and listen to the results you will hear additional harmonics (distortion) being generated, right? You should hear the kick modulating the bass/sine easily if I’m not mistaken, which is often masked a bit when using complex waveforms.
The examples I’ve see use very bright bass tracks which would mask any distortion, so it’s hard to tell. Do you have a moment (and the motivation) to try RM ducking on a sine/sub bass to hear how much distortion is imparted on the bass signal?

OTOH, using a crossfader means you can only hear one or the other - and even if you DID hear both they would be reduced by 6 dB by the pan law, which is more than enough to compensate for the 6 dB max increase when two sounds play together. Meaning, there is no case where you can INCREASE gain with this setup no matter what you do, which is the goal of ducking, right?And you won’t hear distortion this way either since you’re not using audio rate modulation on the signals - you’re just crossfading between two signals.
So while the crossfade method is not ‘perfect’, it’s the closest thing to perfect that I’m aware of since you automatically achieve your ‘gain control’ goals no matter the setting. Plus, it requires no real calibration except to be sure you send enough CV signal to fully crossfade with each kick which is easy to check if you meter the kick to make sure it’s hitting the same level as before adding this to the equation. Hopefully I’m making sense, and surely someone else must have thought of doing it this way?
Selig Audio, LLC

valankar
Posts: 72
Joined: 24 Sep 2016

Post 15 Feb 2023

selig wrote:
14 Feb 2023
Not sure I follow - the distortion caused by ring mod would always be audible, no? If you duck a sine wave with ring mod and listen to the results you will hear additional harmonics (distortion) being generated, right? You should hear the kick modulating the bass/sine easily if I’m not mistaken, which is often masked a bit when using complex waveforms.
The examples I’ve see use very bright bass tracks which would mask any distortion, so it’s hard to tell. Do you have a moment (and the motivation) to try RM ducking on a sine/sub bass to hear how much distortion is imparted on the bass signal?

OTOH, using a crossfader means you can only hear one or the other - and even if you DID hear both they would be reduced by 6 dB by the pan law, which is more than enough to compensate for the 6 dB max increase when two sounds play together. Meaning, there is no case where you can INCREASE gain with this setup no matter what you do, which is the goal of ducking, right?And you won’t hear distortion this way either since you’re not using audio rate modulation on the signals - you’re just crossfading between two signals.
So while the crossfade method is not ‘perfect’, it’s the closest thing to perfect that I’m aware of since you automatically achieve your ‘gain control’ goals no matter the setting. Plus, it requires no real calibration except to be sure you send enough CV signal to fully crossfade with each kick which is easy to check if you meter the kick to make sure it’s hitting the same level as before adding this to the equation. Hopefully I’m making sense, and surely someone else must have thought of doing it this way?
Yes you are right. I was originally thinking ringmod sidechain was like moving a crossfader very fast, but instead it is like a compressor with extremely fast/instant attack and release. There is definitely a not-so-pleasant distortion (with a sine wave, and also anything else), which I guess is expected. It sounds similar to a compressor setup that way.

The crossfader method does seem the better route. I've seen a few videos where people merge kick and bass samples in this way in the timeline, with crossfading in the generated sample. I haven't seen anyone using a plugin. Perhaps in some DAWs it is not sample-accurate to do that with automation. But I could imagine an LFOtool-like device that instead of ducking according to the envelope, it crossfades between the input and sidechain.

valankar
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Post 16 Feb 2023

Here is a video that is essentially about doing the crossfading method, except they use 2 lfo plugins with inverse shapes:


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selig
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Post 21 Feb 2023

valankar wrote:
16 Feb 2023
Here is a video that is essentially about doing the crossfading method, except they use 2 lfo plugins with inverse shapes:

I guess the main difference would be you can still ‘miss’ transients if you’re not aggressive enough and precise enough, meaning both can still hit at the same time if you’re not careful with the setup. Whereas with a crossfader it is impossible to EVER have both play at the same time and increase level because even if you are at the 50% point on the crossfader, the crossfade curve ensures the overall level doesn’t increase - like magic!
Selig Audio, LLC

valankar
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Joined: 24 Sep 2016

Post 21 Jun 2023

I did a small video on using the crossfade technique. It's more Reaper specific, but similar with other DAWs. I think I like it better than the other methods, and can even do it with multiband :).


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selig
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Post 21 Jun 2023

Great video!
Some notes/thoughts:

The high hat sounds cleaner on the crossfade vs ring mod examples, making it sound softer (but IS it really softer?)

If you control the crossfade with the envelope of the drums you won't likely have the level issue (where you had to lower the level by a tiny bit). I've never seen any "overs" when doing crossfade ducking, but you are likely seeing it because of how you are controlling the crossfading if I'm not mistaken. You want the ONLY duck when drums are hitting.
You can also extend the range of the control signal which pushes the crossfader to it's extremes so it doesn't spend any time in the center positions, making it act more like a nice smooth switch. This is accomplished by what modular synth users call CV Clipping, which produces a result that 'pegs' to either side more of the time with minimal time spent in the center - hopefully that's clear, but maybe not something you can do in Reaper (but is easy to do in Reason any number of ways).

Finally, using two copies of the crossfader (one on each signal instead of both signals into one crossfader as per usual) allows you to keep kick/bass separate (on their own tracks) and still behave exactly the same. In Reason you put the controls on a Combinator so one set of controls affects both devices equally.

Another quick note: the bass sounded lower in the multi-band version to me (around 8 min), but could just be my imagination!
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valankar
Posts: 72
Joined: 24 Sep 2016

Post 21 Jun 2023

If you control the crossfade with the envelope of the drums you won't likely have the level issue (where you had to lower the level by a tiny bit).
Ah interesting, I didn't think of using the drum envelope! Will need to try that.
You can also extend the range of the control signal which pushes the crossfader to it's extremes so it doesn't spend any time in the center positions, making it act more like a nice smooth switch.
Hm, I'm not sure I get that. Let's say in general I have 1 drum track (with everything, kick, snare, hats, etc). It's only when the drums hit hard with a kick that I want to duck the other tracks. But for the rest of the time, I'm thinking it should mix 50/50. If it's a switch, then in this case I'd just hear the kick and the rest of the drums would be silent once it fades over. Or perhaps you are thinking of some different track setup? I'm thinking there are only 2 buses I can crossfade between: drums, everything not drums.
Another quick note: the bass sounded lower in the multi-band version to me (around 8 min), but could just be my imagination!
When I went back to listen you are right. I suspect the multiband crossover is messing with the phase. I tried the linear phase crossover in MXXX and it is a little better but still kinda off. Maybe it's best to just stick with fullband.

Thanks!

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