FL Studio – Basic Sidechain Compression using Fruity Limiter [VIDEO]

In this video I show you how to quickly set up basic sidechain compression in FL Studio using the Fruity Limiter. I’d recommend watching full screen at 1080 resolution. 


In this very basic tutorial I show you how to route two audio channels to a dedicated sidechain compression channel in the FL Studio mixer and then sidechain a kick drum to the Fruity Compressor on that channel and create the well known ‘pumping’ sound.

Routing the Mixer Channels

I have already set up four mixer channels as follows; Kick, Bass, Chords and Sidechain. These will need to be routed correctly in the mixer and then have the sidechain compression set up to achieve the desired result.

  1. We start by routing the Bass and Chords channels through the Sidechain channel. We do this by first selecting the Bass channel and then right clicking on the send switch at the bottom of the Sidechain channel. Then select route to this track only. Do the same for the Chords channel. The audio from Bass and Chords now goes through Sidechain before it goes to the master channel.
  2. Next select the Kick channel in the mixer, right click on the send switch  on the Sidechain channel and select sidechain to this track.
  3. Finally, the Fruity Limiter loaded into the Sidechain channel. You now have your mixer channels routed correctly.

Setting up the Fruity Limiter


The Fruity Limiter should be the only plugin on the Sidechain channel at this point and should be set to the default preset.

  1. First you must bring up the compressor settings by clicking COMP at the bottom of the interface in the envelope section.
  2. Adjust the SIDECHAIN selector to  choose the channel you want to control the compressor. The numbers correspond to all linked mixer channels from left to right. In my example the Kick channel is first so I choose ‘1’ as the sidechain.
  3. Increase the ratio so that when the compressor is triggered it pulls down the volume of the main signal going through it. You can adjust this later to taste.
  4. Play the music and start pulling down the threshold to see at which point the sidechained audio starts triggering the compressor. You will see the sidechained audio as light blue in the display and the threshold level as a brighter blue.
  5. When the threshold is low enough so that the sidechained signal is triggering the compressor a decent amount you should play with the ratio and release settings to achieve the desired result overall.

Final thoughts

What I have shown you is the most basic way to use an FL Studio native plugin to achieve that stereotypical ‘pumping’ EDM sound. This is only one of many uses for sidechain compression and only one of many ways of achieving it. The same pumping effect can be created using other compressors, the Fruity Peak Controller, or third party plugins such as Waves’ One Knob Pumper or the Nicky Romero Kickstart, among others. Whilst this isn’t technically sidechain compression it can sound the same (or even better).

Sidechain compression can also be used to help elements of a mix stand out a bit more, for example you could sidechain a vocal to a compressor which is affecting the guitar in a song so that when the singer sings the guitar is turned down a little. A de-esser is also essentially a sidechain compression setup that is triggered by specific high frequencies.

So don’t write off sidechain compression simply as a trick to get that pumping sound, there’s a lot more to it. Experiment and see what you can discover.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Do check out my other FL Studio articles and feel free to comment and share. Please like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with new posts and join our FL Studio Q&A group to ask for advice and help each other.

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