How To Stereo Sidechain In Pro Tools

As of 2024, side chain signals for plug-ins in Pro Tools are still mono only, which is quite limiting given today’s plug-ins capabilities for stereo enhancement. Here is a workaround to do stereo side chain inside Pro Tools, using the PatchWork and Connector plug-ins.

The idea is to simply use Connector to send the side chain signal from one track to another in stereo, and route its output to the side chain channels thanks to PatchWork’s individual plug-in I/O routing.

In this tutorial we will be using a simple 2 tracks projects. The first track contains beats, which will be the side chain source, and the second track is a synth track, on which we want to apply the Dynamics plug-in with a stereo side chain. This can of course be applied to any other plug-in with a side chain input.

On The Source Track

Insert the PatchWork AAX plug-in:

Load the C-Strip preset and load the Connector VST plug-in in the first slot (we do not use the AAX version directly because we have to use the same plug-in type as the destination plug-in for fast communication), and set It up to send audio to localhost (using default port 8080 here):

As you can see above, we have also changed the name of the connector instance with the name of the track. It will be easier to identify the connection in the future.

On The Destination Track

Insert the PatchWork AAX effect plug-in:

In PatchWork we create a simple chain of effects, wuith the Connector and Dynamics plug-ins in series, using the Load VST command:

Note for the side chain destination plug-in (some may require extra configuration): check that the destination plug-in has 4 ins and 2 outs (click on the slot and select “Audio I/O”). If not, switch audio I/O to manual and select 2 ins and 4 outs. The plug-in is now ready to receive the side chain signal.

Let’s now setup Connector to process the side chain signal (we want it to output its signal onto channels 3 and 4, so that Dynamics receives it to its side chain input only). This is done with the “Audio I/O” panel when clicking on the Connector plug-in slot:

Now that Connector is processing the right channels, let’s configure it as a receiver, with same port as the sender:

That’s it! You now see that the destination connector is receiving the stereo signal from the source beat track on the side chain channels for the dynamics plug-in, which i snow triggered by the stereo source:

You can now enjoy benefit from the dynamics plug-in’s extensive stereo side chain options in Pro Tools:


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