A ‘Sidechain’ is most commonly known as a tool in compression where the threshold input to the compressor is taken from a separate signal.

For example, one could use a vocal signal to trigger the threshold on a compressor on a track of music. Whenever the vocal signal crosses the threshold of the compressor, the music signal will be attenuated. It is useful in mixes where elements have to be ducked under each other.

Sidechaining does not have to be used solely in compression. You can use a signal to affect the parameters of almost any audio processor.

diagram showing the signal flow of a sidechain setup

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