Kickstart Sidechain Compression - Nicky Romero

Nicky Romero’s second attempt at creating a plug-in is easily as successful as his first. While not as advanced as KICK, Kickstart is a unique little sidechain VST effect plug-in that has no real competition on the market. Kickstart, honestly, is the simplest sidechain solution available to anyone right now. It’s cheap, it’s effective, and best of all it has an incredibly intuitive and visual layout. Nicky Romero and Cableguys should be very proud of their handy work and I applaud them for creating Kickstart in such a compelling fashion.

When attaching Kickstart to a mixer channel, a simple window pops up. Firstly, the main display shows users the shape of the sidechain curve they’re going to be applying to the channel Kickstart is loaded in. To the left of that is a huge knob that is just a wet/dry knob for the effect being applied to the channel and on the bottom you can determine the general shape you want by selecting from 16 options. It’s definitely a really simple plug-in, but simple does not mean it isn’t quality. Each of the shapes provided come preloaded with a description that details the type of sound they are best used in conjunction with, giving users a quicker road to track development. While sidechaining is definitely one of the most essential techniques used in electronic music production, it generally takes some time to set up any of the various techniques used. Cableguys and Nicky Romero definitely had user workflow in mind when they created Kickstart and it shows in the final product.

Being as simple as it is, Kickstart comes with a small flaw. As anyone who’s heard of Nicky Romero surely knows, he’s a house producer and primarily focuses on house music in general. Sadly, so does Kickstart. Kickstart has built in timing options because it isn’t linked to any type of trigger. However, if you are making any type of offbeat kick pattern or any syncopated drums, you’re going to have a tough time using Kickstart. You can only choose denominations of eighth, quarter, half, or whole notes for the sidechain to be applied on. I’ve attempted to use automation of the wet/dry knob to trigger when Kickstart applies its effect on a channel, but at that point it’s not anymore useful or time efficient than other sidechain options. I’m not sure what I would suggest to remedy this problem, but as far as any house music producer is concerned Kickstart should work very well for them.


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