VCA Automation - Is ducking possible?

Scenario -

1 Stereo music track
1 Stereo spoken word track

Workflow Goal -

To have truly automated volume-based ducking
of the music track when the spoken word track comes in.

I’ve found a few ways to try to approach this -

  • Quadro approach
  • VST3 compressor w/sidechaining (Elysia mPressor, U-He Presswerk)
  • Write/create a VCA automation track

However -
I am looking for some means of actually “automating” the creation of a VCA automation track, as I do not want to "write/create " a VCA automation track either manually or by riding a fader.

Is it possible to automatically or “self-automate” a VCA fader
(that is assigned to the stereo music track)
and “lower” it’s volume (via a sidechain-like input/link?)
being provided by the stereo spoken word track’s audio?

This would seem ideal for the purist, as there are no plugins used
(in the audio path of the track being reduced) for this
“externally-controlled ducking” task.


You could do this using Waves Vocal Rider, although if you HAVE to do it using a VCA then you’d have to do a bit of copy/pasting automation data to the VCA track.

I regret not grabbing the native version of the Elysia mPressor
(that was on sale recently at Plug-In Alliance for $89.00.)

Instead, I planned on purchasing the UAD-2 mPressor plugin
for my Apollo, but realized (after the sale) that the UAD version does not offer a side-chaining option - none of the UAD compressor plugins do, for that matter!


for this type of application i prefer plugins, as quick volume rides are subject to currently set audio buffer size (higher buffer sizes will make abrupt ride changes ‘late’). vst3 plugins are better in this regard. the standard, native cubase compressor is fine. for this application, setting a very low threshold and a very low ratio (around 1.05) works well.

another approach is frequency-selective ducking with a dynamic eq that has an external sidechain, such as melda MAautodynamicEQ or the Trackspacer vst.

i have never used VCAs to achieve this, and generally find the VCA implementation in cubase too messy and avoid it.

I have a question for your question: Why with a VCA?

In your scenario just with the integrated Cubase Compressor (in side chain mode) you can do this.

If you use a compressor keyed by the vocal for this, the louder the vocal gets, the more the music “ducks”.
This is not wat you want.

use a noise gate keyed in the same way on a duplicate track of the sounds you want to duck , and put the duplicate track out of phase. Add the out of phase signal to taste.

now if you key the signal with a duplicate track of the vocal (set the send pre-fader, and the channel fader of this track down all the way) , put this track a litlle early, you can even create automatic fades before the vocal starts by trimming the attack and release of the gate.

I personaly do not see any use for VCA’s to achieve this other than by hand…

Thanks for the suggestions!