Two Alternative Methods For Ducking Effect

Two Alternative Methods For Ducking Effect

As sidechain compression (and the well known ‘ducking’ effect) is a must must learn mixing technique in electronic music production, it won’t hurt to know few other methods for achieving that effect as well so in this tutorial I will show you two more methods for making your mixes ‘pump’ in FL Studio (also, check my tutorial on how to use sidechain compression in FL Studio).

Method one is the Fruity Peak Controller.

Fruity Peak controller generates an automation signal based on the input sound. It’s somewhat similar to noise gate, but with a greater control over the sound. It’s also easy to creat that sidechain compression type of effect with it. All we need is a control signal (which will be kick drum in this example) and target parameter (SimSynth channel volume controller in this tutorial) which we will link it to. After we have set it up, the peaks of the kick drum will make the volume level of SimSynth ‘chop’ in time with the kick thus creating that ducking effect.

Allright. First, pick a kick drum and drop it to a sampler channel. Assign it to a free mixer track and create a simple 4-to-the-floor beat.

Pick A Kick And Create A Beat

Next, pick a sound you want to make duck. I’ll use the forementioned SimSynth in this example, so load it and assign it to a free mixer track and pick some preset (I’ll just use ‘Brass80’). Go to Piano Roll, add a new pattern (if you want) and create a sequence of notes (I’m lazy so I just draw a single long note to the grid).

Load A SimSynth And Create A Melody

Now, in the Mixer -view, drop a Fruity Peak Controller to the kick drum mixer tracks fx slot as the kick drum is our control signal (the Peak Controller unit will appear as an Internal Controller link option in the ‘Link to controller’ right-click dialog). Next, open the SimSynths Channel Settings -panel and right click the volume knob and choose ‘Link to controller…’. It will open a ‘Remote control settings’ -panel. Under the ‘Internal controller’, choose ‘Peak ctrl (Kick) – Peak’ from the dropdown -menu. Under the ‘Mapping formula’ select ‘Inverted’ and click ‘Accept’.

We have now linked the kick drum to the SimSynths channel volume controller. We could have also link it to the SimSynths mixer track volume level controller, but using the channel volume instead leaves the mixer track volume slider for controlling the overall volume of the target signal.

Link The Peak Controller

We are not done yet though. Open the Fruity Peak Controller and turn the MUTE -switch OFF – otherwise you won’t hear the control audio (kick drum). Now, make things duck by increasing the Volume controller (VOL) and Peak Tension (TNS) values. I’ve found setting the VOL to around 130-140% and TNS to 60% gives a nice ducking effect. Of course, the settings will depend on the type of kick drum you are using and how heavy ducking effect you want.

With the Decay (DEC) you can control the decay speed of the peak. Turn right for faster decay and turn left for slower decay. I usually leave it to the center.

BASE will set the base value of the Peak Controller, in this case the volume level so you can use it to control how loud the control signal level will be.

Fruity Peak Controller Settings

Ok. This is how it sounds:

Typical duck, eh? šŸ™‚

You can also make the target signal duck even when the kick is muted. This is handy if you have an offbeat -section in your song, but where you still have other elements playing and you want them to duck.

All you have to do is to go to the Mixer -view, click on the kick drum mixer track to make it active, right click on the Send Volume -knob that is on the Master mixer track and select ‘Create automation clip’. Now go to the Playlist -view and create a steep curve like this to the point where you want to mute the kick:

Ducking Effect Active With Kick Muted

Listen to this:

Alright, this was the method one and now to the method two.

I like to call this second method a ‘hasty mans ducking effect’. It is very simple to apply, and the resulting effect reminds quite a lot the pumping sound created with sidechain compression or Peak Controller.

Here’s how you apply it:

Open the Channel Settings -panel of the sound or synth you would like to make pump. Right click on the volume control knob and choose ‘Create automation clip’ (yep, we are going to use volume automation envelope for creating ducking effect). Now, go to the Playlist -view and edit the automation envelope to something like this:

Ducking Effect With Volume Automation Envelope

This is the end results:

There you have it, ‘hasty mans ducking effect’. šŸ™‚

Edit the envelope to make it suit to your needs. Remember that you can save the automation envelope for use in your later projects (I will show you how to save automation envelopes in the video below or check my FL Studio Quick Tip on how to do it).

This method is like a manual sidechain compression as this is basically what the sidechain compression does: it controls the volume level of a target signal by the peaks of the control signal. Of course the ending result is not entirely the same, but it’s close to it.

That’s it for now. Check the video as well and download the FL Studio 10.0.5 project files for both methods:

Download Peak Controller Ducking FL Studio Project File

Download Volume Automation Ducking FL Studio Project File


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  1. Nice tutorial Petri!
    found very useful and already using it.
    Thank you!

  2. Hey, Petri!

    Nice tips, but I think I found a bug while trying to apply the Peak Controller method.
    I had a 3xOsc instance loaded and had it’s cutoff frequency (using the Fruity Free Limiter) automated in the Playlist (just like your tutorial on White Noise Sweeps).
    Then I wanted to make it duck.
    But when I apply the Peak Controller on the kick drum and have it linked to the 3xOsc mixer channel (I did everything just like you said) and play the Playlist, the cutoff frequency automation clip stops working.

    Any thoughts on this?

  3. DJ-Small Joe on

    ?? I come from Taiwan ???????? ?????????Thanks^^
    Thank you very much!!!

  4. Augustus on

    The Peak controller method seems complicated as compared to using the fruity limiter and using the sidechain mode in it. In the limiter one can control the gain ration and thresh hold which allow you to make the sidechain uniquly fit the song at that moment. this being so what benefit is their to using the peek controller method of sidechaining over the limiter?