Side-chains are such an essential ingredient not only in EDM, but also in pop music, hip hop, and other genres. Yes, you can create a side chain with most compressor plugins, by routing a trigger signal (such as a kick drum) into a compressor on another track, which will then be ducked as the trigger signal increases above the threshold. The difference specialised side-chain plugs make is in the convenience. You can just add such plugins onto your track, select a volume shape, and you are good to go.
Plenty of Fish
But the original Kickstart was released in 2013, nearly 10 years ago. Since then, much has happened in music technology, including the release of several competitors:
The second incarnation of Kickstart, called Kickstart 2, adds several new features:
Presets: 16 side-chain curve presets.
Mix: mix knob to adjust the side-chain level.
Drag & Change: quickly drag curves to match different kick shapes.
Audio Triggering: can follow any kick pattern, not just 4/4.
Multi-Band Side-Chain: limit the side-chain to only part of the frequency spectrum.
Visual Wavefrom Display: see waveforms of both kick and bass in one view to better adjust curves.
Windows Windows 7, 8, 10 or 11. VST 2, VST 3 or AAX host sequencer. 64-bit.
Mac Mac OS X 10.9 or later. Intel or M1 (Native/Rosetta) processor. VST 2, VST 3, AU or AAX host sequencer.
If you don't have a side-chain plugin in your plugin folder, and use compressors to create them, the upgrade to Kickstart 2 could be a good trigger to re-consider. I haven't used Kickstart or Kickstart 2 yet, but am using Cableguys Shaperbox 2* from the same developer. I have no doubt Kickstart 2 is a worthwhile upgrade, and with the super affordable full price is an easy purchase.
Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 Mixing Tutorial by Jay Cactus
Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 by Big Z
Nicky Romero Kickstart 2 by DJs from Mars
Trained in classical and jazz piano, Christof has over 30 years of experience in songwriting and music production. In 2021, he founded musicmanta and is now its Editor-in-Chief. Christof has worked in marketing for 25 years in Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. He is now the Head of Performance Marketing UK for Andrex, Kleenex, and Huggies, leading a team of 10 to create award-winning marketing campaigns, writing effective content, reaching millions of people.
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