Back to Blog

The BEST Sidechaining Plugin of 2024 For Supreme Tracks (Top 8)

Sidechaining is an essential technique in the world of music production. 

 

By allowing one audio signal to control the behavior of another, sidechaining can add that rhythmic pulse, create space in a mix, or bring an element to the forefront. 

 

It can help you craft cleaner mixes, achieve a tighter groove, and add that professional touch to your tracks. 

 

Mastering this technique and having the right tools can make all the difference as a producer. 

 

That’s why it’s beneficial to be acquainted with the best sidechain plugins in the game. 

 

Luckily, we’re about to uncover the 8 best sidechaining plugins of 2023 that will amplify your production skills and breathe new life into your tracks.

 

This way, you won’t have to spend countless hours attempting to find the best options.

 

The reason we picked these sidechaining plugins is based on their:

 

  • Supreme Abilities ✓
  • Top-tier Capabilities ✓
  • Unique Functions ✓
  • Show-stopping Features ✓
  • Astounding Versatility ✓
  • Impressive Flexibility ✓
  • Proven Effectiveness ✓

 

After diving into this article, you’ll be side-chaining like a seasoned professional. 

 

With access to the most legendary sidechain plugins and insights into their strengths and specialties, your tracks will reach new heights of sonic excellence. 

 

NOTE: We’ve included both VST plugins and AU/AAX plugins so both Mac and Windows users can benefit. 

 

Plus, unlike other blogs that list the best sidechaining plug ins, we’ve included ALL the details, not just a sentence or two.

 

This way, you get the full scope of their abilities, not just a general outline.

 

So, let’s dive in…

 

The Sidechaining Process: Breaking it Down

 

best sidechaining plugin

 

Before we jump into the 8 best sidechain plug ins of 2023, let’s first discuss what sidechaining is.

 

Sidechaining isn’t just a trend in modern electronic music; it’s an essential technique that allows users to create space in a mix using volume automation. 

 

Essentially, sidechain compression reduces the volume of one track based on the input signal of another. 

 

This is achieved when a kick drum causes another sound (like a bassline) to dip in volume.

 

This creates that signature “pumping sound” heard in electronic music.

 

Imagine a track where the kick drum and bassline frequencies clash, muddying up the entire mix… 

 

Using the sidechain effect, every time the kick hits, the bass volume dips, which: 

 

  • Ensures clarity
  • Prevents frequency clashes

 

This not only keeps the kick drum track prominent but can help make sure you produce a cleaner, more dynamic mix.

 

But sidechaining isn’t limited to just kick & bass interactions (sidechain compression).

 

Music producers often use it to clear out frequencies for vocals or to add rhythmic elements to pads and other sustained sounds. 

 

This process can be more controlled, user-friendly, and efficient with the right sidechain VST plugins or AU/AAX plugins. 

 

The desired results vary, from subtle volume automation to more pronounced effects defining a genre.

 

Mastering the art of not only sidechain compression but sidechaining, in general, is the key to creating professional, chart-topping tracks with expert precision.

 

The 8 Best Sidechaining Plugins of 2023

 

In music production, achieving the perfect sidechain effect is easier than ever, especially with the best sidechain plugins. 

 

These tools are not just about controlling volume, as advanced options allow users to: 

 

  • Fine-tune the curve editor
  • Manage the sidechain input
  • Control multiple instances of the plug in

 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s dive deep into the top picks for the best sidechain plugin of 2023.

 

This way, you’ll be armed with the top choices and music industry favorites so your tracks can be on par with the pros.

 

We’re not including free plugins 一 we’re saving that for another article.

 

#1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3: The Ultimate Sidechain Equalizer

 

Pro Q 3 - Unison

 

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 is more than just an equalizer; it’s a sound engineer’s dream tool and the best sidechaining plugin of 2023.

 

In the intricate world of sound shaping, where every decibel matters, this sidechain plug in stands as the top contender.

 

The intuitive user interface of Pro-Q 3 is a reflection of the innovation that lies beneath. 

 

At the heart of Pro-Q 3’s prowess is its unmatched sound quality. 

 

This sidechain plug in ensures that no matter how much you push its capabilities, the integrity of the sound remains paramount. 

 

Unique features guarantee precise sound adjustments without any unwanted colorations, like the:

 

  • Linear phase operation
  • Zero latency
  • Natural Phase modes 

 

And with features like dynamic EQ, per-band mid/side processing, and full surround support, it caters to both the novice and the professional with equal finesse.

 

Pro Q 3 Dynamic Range Ring - Unison

 

But FabFilter Pro-Q 3 is not just about features 一 it’s about the experience. 

 

The large interactive EQ display is a canvas where sound gets a visual dimension, enabling you to create and modify bands intuitively. 

 

Tools like Spectrum Grab and Full Screen mode ensure your workflow remains unobstructed and fluid. 

 

NOTE: This seamless blend of power and usability makes Pro-Q 3 unparalleled.

 

Beyond its state-of-the-art features, FabFilter Pro-Q 3 has a philosophy: to make sound engineering intuitive, quick, and effective. 

 

Whether you’re a new producer or a seasoned audio professional, this sidechain plug in guarantees that your sound vision is realized with precision and style.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

Pro Q 3 Mixing and Mastering Features - Unison

 

  • Highest possible sound quality.
  • Dynamic EQ mode for all bands with perfect analog matching.
  • Gorgeous Retina interface with a large interactive EQ display.
  • Full surround support (up to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2) with intelligent speaker selection.
  • Spectrum Grab: Directly adjust peaks in the real-time spectrum analyzer.
  • Various filter shapes including Bell, Notch, High/Low Shelf, and more.
  • EQ Match feature to auto-match the spectrum of another Pro-Q 3 instance.
  • Built-in spectrum analyzer with Pre-EQ, Post-EQ, and external spectrum visualization.
  • Intelligent solo mode to easily pinpoint problem frequencies.
  • Extreme CPU optimization ensuring efficient performance.
  • Supports various formats including VST, VST3, AU/AAX and AudioSuite.
  • The best sidechaining plugin of 2023.

 

#2. iZotope Neutron 4

 

Neutron - Unison

 

iZotope Neutron 4 takes the sidechaining process to a new level, truly setting itself apart from the competition. 

 

As we previously discussed, sidechaining allows a producer to use the signal of one track to control the dynamics of another track.

 

This can create rhythmic “pumping” effects or help clear space in a mix for prominent elements. 

 

iZotope Neutron 4 refines this method by offering advanced sidechain capabilities that give users the utmost precision and control.

 

With Neutron 4, you’re not just sidechaining 一 you’re sculpting your sound with intelligence. 

 

This sidechain plug in provides visual feedback, helping you pinpoint where frequency masking might occur and guiding you to make informed decisions. 

 

Neutron EEQ - Unison

 

Neutron 4 offers:

 

  • Spectral shaping
  • Multiband processing
  • Even a dynamic EQ that responds to the external sidechain input

 

This means that instead of just ducking volume (volume shaper), you can dynamically shape the tone of one track based on the characteristics of another.

 

This will assist in a more nuanced, musical, and desirable outcome.

 

Neutron 4 seamlessly integrates into your mix with its Track Assistant feature. 

 

Neutron Assistant View - Unison

 

This AI-powered tool listens to your audio and suggests custom starting points for your mix based on the sonic profile of your track. 

 

The Masking Meter allows you to visually identify and combat frequency collisions between instruments so your sidechain decisions serve the overall clarity of the mix.

 

With its advanced, user-friendly features, iZotope Neutron 4 proves that sidechaining is not just a utility but an art form. 

 

It elevates the standard sidechain process into a detailed, immersive experience that is a must-have for any serious producer.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

Neutron Compressor - Unison

 

  • 8 dynamic plug-ins including a mothership and 7 component modules.
  • Modernized Mix Assistant for fast and personalized mixing solutions.
  • New Unmask Module for identifying and rectifying masking issues.
  • Exciter Module with the innovative Trash Mode for varied distortion effects.
  • Punch Mode to control and visualize sound impact.
  • Target Library with tone matching technology for precise sound replication.
  • Sculptor: Powerful tool for resonance removal and sound excitement.
  • Exciter and Trance Gate modules for character addition and dynamic sound control.
  • Swizz-army-knife Compressor and intelligent EQ for perfect mix fitting.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins of 2023.

 

#3. Wavesfactory: Trackspacer

 

Trackspacer - Unison

 

Trackspacer by Wavesfactory is an avant-garde solution for mix engineers and producers looking to establish clarity within their sonic creations. 

 

By employing a revolutionary technique of creating space in the mix, Trackspacer focuses on carving out a track’s essential high/low frequencies.

 

In turn, it helps to produce a cleaner, professional, more coherent mix. 

 

Instead of manually equalizing, this sidechain plug in applies an inverse EQ curve after analyzing the sidechain signal. 

 

With just a turn of a knob, mixes are instantly elevated to sound more professional.

 

Trackshaper 2 - Unison

 

The innovation doesn’t stop there… Trackspacer, having gained accolades as an award-winning plugin, operates in real-time. 

 

It intricately carves frequencies that the main track demands into another track 一 drawing parallels to a multiband sidechain compressor. 

 

Yet, its skill surpasses this comparison, being more: 

 

  • Powerful
  • Transparent
  • Pinpoint precise

 

This is not just a tool; it’s a transformative experience for any mix. 

 

What lies beneath this user-friendly facade and intuitive interface is an intricate system specifically designed for perfection. 

 

Trackspacer houses an internal 32-band EQ that dynamically responds to the incoming sidechain signal. 

 

This meticulous design not only analyzes the spectrum of the sidechain but applies a reversed EQ curve to another track. 

 

The result is a space crafted specifically for the primary track 一 enhancing the clarity and quality of the mix. 

 

Trackshaper Advanced Panel e1696894324691 - Unison

 

NOTE: Wavesfactory also integrated advanced features for those who crave more control (like myself).

 

With adjustable high-pass and low-pass filters, it allows users to target specific areas of the spectrum for supreme clarity.

 

Additionally, Trackspacer is versatile and capable of processing the full stereo field or focusing on specific channels. 

 

The attack and release times can be fine-tuned, similar to multiband compressors; ensuring the desired responsiveness. 

 

Its frequency display, presenting both the spectrum of the sidechain signal and the reduction curve, is the cherry on top, completing this masterpiece of a sidechain plug in.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

Trackshaper 3 - Unison

 

  • Inverse EQ curve technology for creating mix space.
  • 32-band internal EQ that dynamically responds to sidechain signals.
  • Real-time frequency carving for precise mixing; praised by hip-hop producers.
  • Versatile high-pass filter and low-pass filter (modulation options).
  • Full stereo field processing with options for individual channel adjustments.
  • Adjustable attack and release times.
  • Frequency display showcasing sidechain spectrum & reduction curve.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins of 2023.

 

#4. LFO Tool by Xfer Records

 

LFO Tool - Unison

 

Xfer Records’ LFO Tool is a testament to the limitless possibilities within sound design and modulation. 

 

With its powerful LFO-shaping capabilities, it transcends traditional boundaries and enables a super-dynamic soundscape

 

MIDI compatibility ensures that LFO Tool is not just restricted to audio processing.

 

It can generate a MIDI message stream 一 making it an essential tool for controlling various instruments and hardware.

 

The essence of LFO Tool lies in its versatility.

 

While its primary function centers around LFO shaping, the power vested in the user to craft custom LFO curves and shapes is unparalleled. 

 

LFO Tool Filter Cutoff - Unison

 

Equipped with an arsenal of presets, it provides a starting point for beginners and a quick solution for seasoned producers. 

 

The unique design of LFO Tool ensures that users can delve deep into their sonic imaginations, molding sound with precision.

 

Consistency in performance and ease of use is a hallmark of Xfer Records, and LFO Tool embodies this ethos. 

 

Its interface (while brimming with features) remains intuitive and allows users to easily harness its full potential, regardless of experience.

 

Beyond its core LFO functionalities, LFO Tool boasts a plethora of features, like the:

 

  • Customizable point+tension-curve editor
  • Ability to switch between up to 12 graphs in a preset
  • Compatibility with both macOS and Windows

 

These, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg, as its extensive features are listed below.

 

LFO Tool 2 - Unison

 

With support for various formats and the ability to send MIDI CC messages, LFO Tool transcends being just one of the best sidechain VST plugins.

 

It’s one of the most indispensable sidechain plug ins in any music producer’s toolkit.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

LFO Tool Rate Swing Phase PWM Smooth and Snap e1696894795789 - Unison

 

  • Dynamic LFO shaping with customizable curves and patterns (curve editor).
  • MIDI compatibility for extensive control over instruments and hardware.
  • Rich library of presets for rapid sound design.
  • Efficient C++ coding ensuring minimal CPU load (not CPU intensive).
  • Up to 12 switchable graphs in a preset with simultaneous use of 4 graphs.
  • MIDI CC output capability for enhanced hardware and software control.
  • Precise BPM or Hz LFO rate control with sample-accurate sync.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins of 2023.

 

#5. OneKnob Pumper by Waves

 

OneKnob 2 - Unison

 

Achieving the captivating rhythmic dynamics commonly associated with EDM used to require a meticulous setup process…

 

Until OneKnob Pumper by Waves entered the scene, that is.

 

This innovative plug in streamlines the process of creating the hypnotic pumping or ducking effects synonymous with the genre. 

 

Whether you’re a seasoned producer or a novice, OneKnob Pumper ensures that the intricate EDM technique is just a knob turn away. 

 

Its simplicity masks the complexity of the intricate algorithms working behind the scenes.

 

The beauty of OneKnob Pumper lies in its flexibility. 

 

While it’s undeniably adept at delivering the classic EDM pumping effect, its range doesn’t end there; it can be adeptly used across musical genres. 

 

From infusing rhythmic pulses to basslines, pads, and even effects buses, its subtlety can add a fresh layer of dynamics to any track. 

 

OneKnob Rate Offset - Unison

 

But it’s not solely about full-throttle effects.

 

Its calibrated design means it can be applied gently to introduce a nuanced rhythmic emotion to any beat.

 

The hallmark of OneKnob Pumper is its user-centric design. 

 

Instead of navigating complex sidechain setups, users can instantly achieve the desired ducking effect 一 making it an invaluable asset for quick setups and adjustments. 

 

NOTE: While the interface is minimalist, Waves ensures a wide range of flexibility. 

 

With 10 different pumping rhythms ranging from swift 1/32 notes to elongated bars and three rhythmic timing offsets, this sidechain plugin caters to diverse creative needs. 

 

Additionally, this tool can ramp up the intensity for those looking to intensify rhythmic elements in tracks.

 

Therefore, power chords in guitars sound more vibrant and compelling.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

OneKnob Knob - Unison

 

  • Instant creation of pumping/ducking effects without sidechaining.
  • 10 diverse pumping rhythms, catering to a range of musical needs.
  • Effortless EDM effect to synchronize tracks with the musical pulse.
  • Three rhythmic timing offsets for intricate counter-rhythms.
  • Suitable for various genres, offering subtle rhythmic dynamics and volume automation.
  • Add depth and intensity to guitar chords and other instruments.
  • User-friendly interface promoting an efficient workflow.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins of 2023.

 

#6. FabFilter Pro-MB

 

Pro MB - Unison

 

In the realm of sidechaining, FabFilter Pro-MB stands as a beacon of precision and flexibility. 

 

As you now know, side-chaining involves using one audio signal to modulate the dynamics of another.

 

It ensures elements like basslines don’t overwhelm crucial moments like a kick drum’s transient

 

FabFilter Pro-MB elevates this fundamental technique into an art form, offering detailed multiband dynamics processing tailor-made for sidechaining applications.

 

Pro MB Interactive Multiband Display - Unison

 

Pro-MB allows users to create frequency bands at the exact frequency ranges they wish to work on.

 

This allows unparalleled control over the sidechaining process. 

 

Instead of relying on fixed crossover points, it gives you the power to think about bands, not crossovers. 

 

This nuanced approach ensures that only the desired frequency range is affected during the sidechain process 一 leaving the rest of the spectrum untouched.

 

Beyond its groundbreaking band creation approach, Pro-MB introduces the unique Dynamic Phase processing mode for sidechaining. 

 

Pro MB Dynamic Phase Processing Mode - Unison

 

NOTE: This means you can enjoy virtually the same frequency response as traditional multiband processing without the drawbacks of latency or pre-ringing. 

 

It offers a more organic sidechaining experience, one that’s free of common artifacts.

 

At the heart of its design, FabFilter Pro-MB acknowledges the complexities of sidechaining and presents an intuitive interface that lets you create mixes that are:

 

  • More transparent
  • Harmonious
  • Fluid

 

With its state-of-the-art multiband dynamics processing capabilities, it redefines what’s possible in the realm of sidechaining.

 

This makes it an essential tool for motivated producers who demand the the best sidechain plug ins of 2023.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

Pro MB Threshold MIDI Learn - Unison

 

  • Up to six processing bands that can be freely placed anywhere in the spectrum.
  • Bands easily snap together for traditional crossover systems.
  • Versatile dynamics processing: from transparent compression to punchy gating.
  • Unique Dynamic Phase processing mode ensuring zero latency.
  • Linear Phase mode for optimal crossover frequency adjustments.
  • Customizable per band settings, including threshold, attack, and release
  • Advanced oversampling capabilities.
  • Interactive multiband display for an optimal workflow.
  • GPU-accelerated graphics ensuring smooth operation.
  • Comprehensive support for various formats including VST, VST3, and AAX.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins of 2023.

 

#7. iZotope Nectar 4 (Advanced)

 

Nectar - Unison

 

iZotope’s Nectar 4 (Advanced) showcases an impressive array of features tailored to vocal mixing, but where it truly excels is in its sophisticated sidechaining capabilities. 

 

As vocals are often the centerpiece of a track, it makes sure they’re not overwhelmed by other instruments is crucial.

 

Nectar 4 Advanced (with its deep sidechain functions) ensures that your vocals remain clear and dominant.

 

A standout feature is the integration with “Audiolens,” which is compatible with Nectar 4 and empowers you to tone-match any vocal sound

 

Nectar Audiolens - Unison

 

By separating the vocal from your reference track, you can gain insights into creating an optimal mix.

 

It leverages the sidechaining technique to ensure your vocals remain untainted by clashing frequencies.

 

The “ALM (Auto Level Module)” is a testament to iZotope’s innovative approach. 

 

Nectar ALM Advanced Level Module - Unison

 

Unlike traditional compressors, the Auto Level Module offers a more intelligent and transparent alternative. 

 

Placed at the start of your signal chain, it acts similarly to a sidechain mechanism 一 managing vocal levels so they stand out yet remain balanced within the mix.

 

Additionally, with the “Backer” module, Nectar 4 takes a unique twist on the traditional sidechain process. 

 

Nectar Backer mode - Unison

 

This module allows users to create background singers that neatly sit behind the main vocal. 

 

Using sidechaining techniques, the Backer ensures that these backing vocals provide depth without overpowering the lead.

 

In essence, iZotope Nectar 4 Advanced isn’t just a vocal processing tool.

 

It’s a masterclass in seamlessly integrating sidechaining techniques to enhance vocal clarity and presence in any mix.

 

More Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

Nectar Voices Module - Unison

 

  • Comprehensive set of tools for mixing, producing, and designing vocals.
  • Audiolens compatibility for precise tone-matching.
  • Voices module for easy vocal layering.
  • ALM (Auto Level module) for consistent vocal dynamics.
  • Backer module for creating background singers.
  • Integration with a suite of powerful iZotope plug ins.
  • Vocal Assistant for a simplified interface (great for mixing purposes).
  • Nectar 4 Breath Control plugin to reduce unwanted breath sounds.
  • Melodyne 5 Essential bundled for perfect pitch and time correction.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins (volume automation plugins) of 2023.

 

#8. Smooth Operator by BABY Audio

 

Smooth Operator - Unison

 

BABY Audio’s Smooth Operator is an intuitive sidechain plugin designed to eliminate harsh resonances and highlight clarity in sound. 

 

It dynamically responds to audio, automatically eliminating frequency areas that can cause listening fatigue

 

The essence of Smooth Operator lies in its ability to sculpt the tonal character of a track, providing: 

 

 

Unlike traditional EQs and compressors, Smooth Operator does the heavy lifting, allowing users to focus on the creative aspects of mixing and make sure their tracks are polished.

 

Smooth Operator’s core lies in its real-time analysis of incoming audio. 

 

By continuously adapting its settings, this sidechaining plugin suppresses frequencies that exhibit excessive energy buildup. 

 

You can define your desired frequency response curve, and Smooth Operator will fine-tune the input signal/incoming signal to match it.

 

This eliminates any odd resonances in the process. 

 

The result is a more balanced, sonically pleasing beat that’s free of any harsh spikes.

 

It also stands out in its user-centric design. 

 

Smooth Operator 3 - Unison

 

Features such as the Global threshold and the ability to modify the response curve empower users to sculpt the sound to their preferences. 

 

The “Focus” slider offers flexibility in choosing the granularity of the plugin’s response. 

 

NOTE: At maximum, it processes each frequency spike independently, while at lower values, it provides a broader, more musical response. 

 

Additional tools, like the “Solo” button, allow you to hone in on specific frequency areas to produce a meticulous and fine-tuned sound.

 

Another significant feature of Smooth Operator is its ability to function as an intelligent ducker. 

 

With the “Side Chain” mode, users can dynamically adjust their signal based on the frequency content of another track. 

 

This ensures less frequency clash 一 leading to cleaner and more harmonious mixes

 

Two algorithm modes, “High-Res” and “Classic,” cater to different workflow needs, ensuring low latency and high-quality sound.

 

For these reasons and so many more, we’ve crowned Smooth Operator the last of the best sidechain plugins of 2023.

 

Key Features of this Sidechain Plugin:

 

Smooth Operator 2 - Unison

 

  • Real-time adaptation to eliminate harsh resonances, like Flux Mini.
  • Combines Resonance Suppression, Spectral Compression, and Equalization.
  • User-friendly interface with customizable response curves.
  • “Focus” slider to adjust the granularity of the plugin’s response.
  • “Side Chain” mode for frequency-based ducking and volume automation.
  • Two algorithm modes: “High-Res” and “Classic” to suit different needs.
  • Solo feature to identify and adjust problematic frequency areas.
  • Fully resizable plugin window with color display options.
  • One of the best Sidechain VST plugins (volume automation plugins) of 2023.

 

Best Sidechaining Plugin: Final Thoughts

 

Sidechaining is undoubtedly one of the most vital techniques you need to know as a modern music producer.

 

This dynamic process can elevate a track from good to great, providing clarity, rhythm, and polish.

 

To elevate your production to professional levels, investing in the best sidechaining plugin is a non-negotiable step.

 

Through the course of this article, we’ve introduced you to the cream of the crop in sidechain technology.

 

Each of these plugins, including the best sidechaining plugin, has been chosen not only for their robust capabilities but also for their unique offerings in the realm of sidechaining.

 

By integrating the best sidechaining plugin into your workflow, you’ll find a world of possibilities opening up  from tighter mixes to more vibrant and pulsating tracks.

 

But it’s not just about having the best sidechaining plugin…

 

It’s also about understanding how to utilize them to their fullest potential, which is where the Famous Beatmaker Template Essentials comes into play.

 

This invaluable toolkit (available for Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic Pro) provides the structures of hit tracks, allowing you to dissect, study, and replicate the techniques of top professionals.

 

By analyzing these templates, you’ll gain insights into how the industry’s best apply sidechaining, among other techniques.

 

And what’s even better? Each template is fully customizable.

 

So, while you’ll start with a tried-and-true structure, you’re free to tweak, modify, and truly make each template uniquely yours.

 

Remember that having the best sidechaining plugin is just a part of the equation.

 

It’s the marriage of the right tools with the right knowledge and creativity that will set your tracks apart.

 

Dive into these plugins, study the templates, and harness the power of sidechaining to its fullest.

 

Your future listeners will thank you for it.

 

Until next time…

 

 

Leave a Reply

0:00
0:00

default

Unison Plug-In Bundle

$1,488

CART

You have no items in your cart.