Using Side Chain With Blue Cat’s PatchWork In Pro Tools

side chain meterStarting with version 1.7, Blue Cat’s PatchWork supports external side chain with most DAWs.

In this tutorial we’ ll show how to use the external side chain input with Pro Tools to feed a sub-plug-in hosted inside PatchWork with the side chain signal.


Setup Tracks and Bus Send

Let’s say for example that we want to use the kick drum track to drive side chain compression on a synth track (to create this famous pumping effect). To do this, we’ll insert the PatchWork plug-in on the synth track, and create a send on the kick drum track (to bus 1-2):

Create send
Create send from kick to bus 1-2 (will be used as a side chain source for the compressor hosted in PatchWork)

Setup the compression plug-in inside PatchWork

For this example we’ll use the Blue Cat’s Dynamics 4 plug-in, inserted in one of the parallel chains. Just click on the slot and load the VST (or AU) plug-in:

02- Dynamics in PatchWork
Blue Cat’s Dynamics (AU or VST) inserted into Blue Cat’s PatchWork.

Let’s use a gentle compression curve in the Dynamics plug-in, and select the external side chain, since we want to use a side chain signal (kick track) to trigger the compression:

03- Dynamics plug-in setup
Setting up compression and external side chain in the Dynamics plug-in

At this point nothing happens, since side chain routing has not been setup in Pro Tools.

Routing the side chain signal in Pro Tools

Now we just need to tell Pro Tools to feed the PatchWork plug-in with the side chain signal (Kick track). To do this we’ll simply select the bus the Kick track has been sent to:

04 - PT side chain setup
Select bus 1 as a side chain input for the PatchWork plug-in. Do not forget to set the volume for the send from the kick track.

The Dynamics plug-in is now fed with the kick drum as a side chain signal. You can adjust the settings to get the desired effect on the synth track!

Extra step may be required for some third party plug-ins

Most plug-ins including a side chain are automatically detected by Blue Cat’s PatchWork, so that it “just works” like in the example above. However some plug-ins may require manual input routing in PatchWork to get the side chain signal, if automatic detection failed.

If your plug-in does not receive the side chain signal at the previous step, click on the plug-in slot and select “Audio I/O”:

Open the Audio I/O pane using the plug-in menu
Open the Audio I/O pane using the plug-in menu

This will open the Audio I/O panel, where you can select how audio channels are mapped to the plug-ins I/O. On a stereo track, channels 1 and 2 are the main inputs (track channels), while channels 3-4 are the side chain inputs (in Pro Tools side chain can only be mono, so channels 3 and 4 are the same). So in our example, we’ll select 4 inputs and route the channels in order:

Channel 1-2 are routed to input 1 and 2 (main inputs) and channels 3 and 4 to input 3 and 4 (side chain inputs)
Channel 1-2 are routed to input 1 and 2 (main inputs) and channels 3 and 4 to input 3 and 4 (side chain inputs)

The plug-in should now receive the side chain signal properly. If your plug-in does not offer more than two input channels in the Audio I/O panel for a stereo track then it is likely that it does not support side chain. Please check with your plug-in manufacturer your options to use side chain with this plug-in (some manufacturers have several versions of the same plug-in with or without side chain).

2 thoughts on “Using Side Chain With Blue Cat’s PatchWork In Pro Tools

  1. Hi,

    I’ve noticed when I load up a plugin in bluecat patchwork, like MCDSP Filter Bank v5,,, I don’t have access to MCDSP Filter Bank’s preset menu. And all other plugins like this, there’s no access to those either in Patchwork. Plugins like Waves plugins,,, they have it where you can access their presets within the GUI of the plugins,,,, but not so on some other plugins like MCDSP. Their preset menu directory is directed different. So how do we get access to these plugins preset menu in Bluecat Patchwork? Please let me know,,, because there are some pretty good presets in some of these plugins preset menus.

    Thank you so much

    Dee Mays

    Bridge 12

    1. Please do not cross post as it may just take us more time to reply! Quoting our email:

      Some plug-ins will indeed not publish their presets and use only preset files, which we do not support at this point. However, if you use the VST version instead of the AU version (I guess you are using Audio Units, right?), the presets should be available from the plug-in menu (the menu that appears when clicking on a plug-in slot).

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