I’ve covered ducking effects before. The idea is to create a delay or a reverb that sounds only when the source signal is quiet or silent. This way, you still hear the delay or the reverb, without making the source material (especially a vocal) muddy or incomprehensible.
The classic way to do ducking effects is with sends and sidechains. Another way, discussed in a different earlier post, is to use a commercially available chainer plugin, and stick the entire ducking apparatus into a single insert slot.
Today, we do one better. I show you how to use the free GuitarRig 5 player with no sidechaining of any kind to get both ducking reverb and delay (and who knows what else) in a single insert slot.
0. Download and Install Guitar Rig 5 player. You can manage this one on your own. Obviously, if you have the full Guitar Rig 5, you’re all set. When you’re ready to go, open up a project, pick a track that could benefit from a reverb and/or delay that does not sacrifice clarity, and stick an instance of Guitar Rig 5 (player) onto that track. From here on out, every step will take place inside Guitar Rig.
1. The Splitter. In the top-left corner, click the “Components” button.
If the “Categories” button right underneath is not already lit up, click it. Then, expand the “Tools” category in the category list. Find the “Split” module there.
Double-click it or drag it to the empty rack on the right. The Split module splits the signal into two identical streams. The first one (split A) will contain the dry signal. The second one will contain 100% wet signal.
Sidebar: By default, the Splitter does not send the left signal into one stream, and the right one into another. You can easily accomplish that split by clicking the “Stereo Input L/R input” button. Might be a fun effect if your signal is actually a mid-side signal, and you make the side signal wet, and then decode the M/S after Guitar Rig. But I digress.
2. Add the delay. In the browser on the left, expand the “Delay & Echo” category to find two echo and delay modules you can use (more if you have the full Guitar Rig). In the “Reverb” category, you can find the “Studio Reverb” module (more if you have the full guitar rig). Let’s use “twin delay” in the “Delay & Echo” category for now. Drag the effect onto the Split module in the rack, between Split B and Split Mix. The result should look somewhat like this, with the effect sandwiched between “Split B” and “Split Mix”:
Note that I set the dry/wet knob on Twin Delay to 100% wet. We already have the dry signal in Split A. Also, keep in mind that most effects in Guitar Rig have additional tweaks that can be revealed by clicking the downward triangle () to the right of the effect:
Do come back and play with these tweaks after we finish this tutorial. They’re oodles of fun!
3. The Modifier. We now have our delay. Now we have to make it duck. Go back to the component browser on the left, expand the “Modifier” category, and choose the “Input level” modifier.
Drag it between the “Split A” and “Split B” segments on the rack, so the resulting rack looks like this:
Click on the downward triangle to the right of the “input level” element to expand it:
Now, click on the top-left word “<none>” and drag it onto the top Level knob on the Twin Delay module. Click the word “<none>” right underneath it and drag it onto the other Level knob of the Twin Delay module. This will make the level on each of the two channels of the delay module go up when the source signal is playing. But wait, we want those levels to go down when the source signal is playing. So drag each of the sliders next to those checkmarks all the way to the left.
Play the track now. You will hear no delay while the source signal is playing, and, chances are, a really loud delayed signal once the source signal stops. To make the delayed signal less loud and obnoxious, just turn down the Level knobs on it. To duck the delay a little less, just move the two sliders sliders we adjusted on the Input Level module closer to the center.
4. Tweaking. There are many tweaks you can apply to get your ducking effect sounding just right. Some suggestions:
- Go back to the expanded tweaks on the delay effect (from the end of step 2) and play with those.
- Play with the “attack” and “decay” knobs on the Input Level module, to make the ducking more natural and musical.
- EQ the wet signal by dragging an EQ from the Components browser into the rack as shown below. I find it helpful to roll off the high end of the delayed signal, to allow the source material to stand out.
- Compress the wet signal to keep it from getting too loud and obnoxious:
- Stick a reverb, filter, flanger, or any other effect in Guitar Rig on the wet signal. The sky really is the limit.
Hope you find this tutorial useful. Hit me up if you have any questions. Cheers!