Starting 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):
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:
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:
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:
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”:
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:
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).