The popular “pumping” effect heard on many dance tracks is usually achieved with a side-chaining compressor where one sound is triggering the compressor which in turn compresses another sound. The most common scenario is a 4/4 kick drum compressing a bass line or a pad. The effect is most pronounced when a sound with long notes is being compressed.
There is more than one way how to achieve the effect in Stagelight, both free and cheap.
You can do it by:
- using Stagelight instruments LFOs
- using Stagelight’s Gater effect
- manually simulating the effect with gain automation
- using a sidechaining compressor plugin
Requirements: Stagelight instrument
Every inbuilt instrument in Stagelight has a pair of LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillator) with various shapes that can be synced to the song’s BPM, which can be used to simulate the “pumping” effect. There is even a preset in Electrosynth conveniently called “BS-SideChain”. If you load it and play a note you’ll hear the pumping right away.
So, how it’s done?
It’s very easy actually. Open the LFO page and look at LFO 2. It’s set to the second, rising sawtooth waveform, which controls the master volume. Don’t be confused by the graphics that represent sawtooth waveforms, they seem to be reversed (Bug?). BPM sync is switched on and the rate is set 1/4 notes. With the Depth knob, you can control the strength of the effect.
If you need to use the sidechaining effect on a sound source other than Stagelight’s synths, like on an audio track, you can do it by using one of the following techniques.
Using Stagelight’s Gater effect
Requirements: Stagelight’s Gater effect
By far the easiest way to achieve the “pumping” effect in Stagelight is to use the Gater effect.
Add a new instrument track and draw one long note.
Add a Gater effect to your instrument track.
Set the Gater to 8 steps mono and turn every odd step off and every even step on.
Press play and you’ll hear an abrupt sequenced sound typical of gating effects.
To achieve the wanted “pumping” sound move the FX Mix slider to about 50%. That’s it. Easy as cake.
Automate the Gain
This way is the most time consuming, but it gives you full freedom of the envelope shape, you can even change it step by step. On top of that you don’t need anything but the free version of Stagelight.
Scroll the piano roll away from your melody and draw temporary notes as guides for the automation. Add Gain automation and draw it point by point until you achieve a shape similar to this:
Delete the guide notes and press play. Adjust the curve as needed.
Using a Sidechaining Compressor
Requirements: VST/AU Support feature
Stagelight’s inbuilt compressor doesn’t support sidechaining so you’ll have to download a VST plugin instead.
I tested several free VST plugins with Stagelight, but they were either buggy, or didn’t even work at all, so I can’t recommend them. Luckily, there is a couple of very affordable VST plugins ready for the task.
- Sidekick compressor by BeatRig (€35).
Sidekick is an advanced software compressor where multiple plugin instances communicate between each other. It can be used for more than just the “pumping” effect.
- Kickstart by Nicky Romero ($10)
This one is not really a sidechaining compressor, more of a preset compressor with envelope curves optimized for creating the “pumping” effect. It is very easy to use.
Here is a video tutorial about Sidekick by BeatRig themselves:
Kickstart doesn’t really need much explaining. Just load it to the track you want to compress and select a curve.