I'm trying to understand side chains and I think I have figured out a useful situation where to use it, ideally I'd like some one to confirm if this an appropriate use or at least, I've understood the theory. This does mean the answer could possibly be very short!

I've never found explaining something so difficult as explaining audio!

When doubling tracking vocals, I often find the ends of words/phrases aren't perfect with each other (it's hard to describe), meaning there is a timing issue or an 's' sound went on longer on one take compared to the other.

When I double track, I typically have 1 voice on top of the other (meaning vocal1 is 10db louder than vocal2). In this instance, the quieter voice still does it's job but sadly it's not so quiet I can't hear the fact the 2 voices are out of time.

I was hoping I could use a side chain and a gate. This means that, when my vocal1 has audio playing, the gate is totally open. When vocal1 finishes, the gate is totally closed, killing vocal2 regardless of whether there is any audio being performed at that stage on vocal2.

I know this process only works for the ends of the words where vocal2 goes on longer, but that is fine.

Is my theory/conception correct?

3 Answers 3


Yes, your theory is correct. If side chained the gate on Vocal2 will only be open when vocal1 is above the threshold gain.

Explanation of side chaining: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/nov06/articles/sidechain.htm

Setting up a side chain: http://brianboylemusic.com/2011/05/10/side-chain-compression-explained/

  • Hi, yes, I know how to use both but I don't like too unless I understand the theory otherwise I get myself into a mess when I receive undesired results!
    – Dave
    Mar 26, 2013 at 10:38

I think you are on the way to your result!

But you might find that this produces a rather unnatural sound, since you are truncating the natural envelope of the human voice... and that is something we are very sensitive to. If you can control the gate to increase the release time, this will help. If it is suitable to add a little bit of reverb dedicated to this second track, that might be good too.

  • Thank you for the great advice. I will have to play with this! As always, I guess it's all in the 'ear' of the beholder! Thank you again
    – Dave
    Mar 28, 2013 at 6:47

VocAlign plugin does exactly what you're looking for, which is to align 2 or more vocal tracks so that they are perfectly in sync.

From their website:

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