Audio 'Ducker' - What works out there?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by csi, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. csi

    csi Active Member

    Feb 4, 2005
    Home Page:

    I do spot production and am wanting to find a 'ducker' plugin for the Mac platform, specifically Digital Performer. Allow me explain exactly what I am looking for: A plug in that has a good 'look ahead' feature allowing the music bed to smoothly go down in volume before the voiceover comes in thus ' ducking' the music under the voice. I don't want something that slams down the volume a split second before the v/o comes it - that just sounds terrible. And since most of the spots that are done have more than one v/o this plug that is on the music track needs to allow for multiple 'inputs' so to speak.

    Does anyone know of type of beast like this out there??

    Thanks in advance for any input.
  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Hi csi,

    Personally, I would rather do that without a plug-in for the very reason you allude to.

    I can't say I'm familiar with Digital Performer, but when I'm doing that sort of thing in ProTools I get the voiceover vocal track exactly where I want it for volume and edited for length. Then I bring the bed up to the proper volume for the beginning of the spot and take note of the level. Then get into the middle of the spot and make a note of the low level. Then I use the volume automation on the music track to draw in nice smooth transitions. With any visual editor it's easy to see exactly where the vocal starts, so you know where the music has to be 'out'. A lot of times I'll use more than one automation point on way down. So the volume fades slower at first then a little more quickly. And for me, I find that if the volume is still fading a little bit when the vocal starts it dovetails together more seamlessly without that abrupt dropoff you talk about. You can start ramping the volume back up just before the voiceover is ending to get back to the starting volume - or even higher on the way out of the spot.

    And like any audio or video production that's driven by the music - the tempo and feel of the song will dictate the timing and speed of the edits. So you'll have to fiddle with the ducker for every spot until it sounds natural.

    By the time you're ready to mix down the spot, the hard part is already done. Automating the track volume to make the music bed donut around the v/o will take a fraction of the time it takes to tweak a ducker until it's perfect. And in the end I think it will sound smoother too - but maybe that's just my preference.

    Good luck.
  3. mrmelody

    mrmelody Active Member

    Sep 16, 2009
    SE Ohio
    IMO I wouldn't use a ducker plug-in either.
    I've always used volume automation, for the same reasons Hawk explained.
    You can either set it up by mouse and click or if you have a control surface you can start a volume automation and use your designated fader to enter the numeric volume ups and downs. I haven't used Performer for years, but I do know that it supports FaderPort, so I would think that it may handle other control surfaces as well.
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Yup. Ducking only works for live broadcast really. Since you can't have the engineer anticipating when an announcer is going to talk. Since you've got the luxury of editing, take advantage of it.
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