#62: Noise Gates – How They Can Help Clean Up Your Audio And Creatively Shape The Sound Of Your Recording

#62: Noise Gates – How They Can Help Clean Up Your Audio And Creatively Shape The Sound Of Your Recording


This is another episode covering a basic audio concept and tool. Or rather a whole category of tools, as gates come in many different forms with different feature sets these days.

While most people interested in audio probably have an idea of what a gate is, many still don't fully understand it. And using gates without really understanding them can be dangerous. It might cause damage to your recordings that can not be fixed anymore. Also, when you're recording yourself and working with a mixing engineer it's really helpful to know what a gate can and can't fix later in the process.

And finally, gates can not only be used to get rid of unwanted noise, but to shape the sound of your recordings creatively. Drums are a great example for this. 

We use them all the time in mixing and we sometimes do it in ways that are a little more advanced or rather uncommon for some people, so we thought we'd share it with you to help you get a better understanding of gates and also to show you some techniques that you maybe haven't thought of before.

Let's go!

This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB Podcast 062 - Gates

[00:00:00] Benedikt: [00:00:00] We're going to do another basic concepts episode after we've talked about compression. Last time we're talking about Gates this time about noise Gates. What that actually is, why would you use it? How it works, all the good stuff. This is the self recording band podcast. The show where we help you make exciting records on your own wherever you are.

DIY let's go.

Hello and welcome to. The self recording band podcast. I am your host Benedict tide, and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owens. How are you, Malcolm? Hello? 

Malcom: [00:00:37] I'm great, man. Like I was telling you before I got new gear over the weekend and that's always exciting. 

Benedikt: [00:00:44] That's always exciting. Yeah. Tell us about 

Malcom: [00:00:46] it.

When did you get, um, I got the, you a universal audio, Apollo X eight P, which is our brand new version of the Apollo interfaces, which are really popular. Most people probably heard of those, but this is, yeah, it's a pretty cool overhaul. The studio actually. Cause it's the hub, [00:01:00] right? So it's new converters, both on the way in and out.

I got eight more channels of preamps. I got now an extra six cores of their DSP. So, and then, you know, way more outputs as well for. Running other stuff and more headphone lines and, uh, yeah, it's, it's pretty great. I'm excited about it. Um, and I got it in advance of going to track of band. This week, um, which I'm excited about there, a band called Vogue villains on the Island here that I know their listeners a little about that showed up.

Um, I needed more, more channels. So I grabbed this. We're going to go do it. And we are doing it in such a self recording band way. I mean, other than me being there, I guess that's one big Mark for it not being a self recording band, but we are like, we're, we're doing it in their jam space. We've been, they've been like.

Treating it all weekend for me and getting it kind of ready. We're drilling a hole on a wall. So I have a control room. Um, and, uh, we're, we're doing a whole bunch of cool stuff. Like we're doing cymbal overdubs, um, just cause we don't have that many channels or that much geared at, to use for this. And we're doing cymbal [00:02:00] overdubs.

Um, we're doing guitar DEI first priority kind of tracking. Um, but there's going to be, you know, we'll be referencing using either like amp Sims, like neural or, or my camper, or, I mean, we all have apps, but it's like the DIA is priority with our setup kind of thing. And, uh, they're doing their vocals. So that is all going to be self done by them.

It's we're really applying what we preach here. So I'm excited to show you the 

Benedikt: [00:02:25] result. Oh, that's that's exciting. Did I get that right? That you got the, the new thing in addition to what you already have, because you said eight more inputs. Yes. 

Malcom: [00:02:36] I had the twin already. Okay. And you're keeping that. Yep. Yeah.

So it just needs to change right in. Um, so I keep those two channels. So now I've got like 10, there we are aided add, add in another eight channels in. Okay. 

Benedikt: [00:02:47] That's what I was asking because you would then. But you still don't have enough channels for a full drum kit. Like we 

Malcom: [00:02:52] up there, I mean, technically we do the, the eight, eight at ones aren't the best.

Um, so I don't really want to rely on them. [00:03:00] And it's the drum sound we're going for, like all of the albums we referenced were recorded that way. So it was like, well, then let's do it that way. That's obvious 

Benedikt: [00:03:08] about intentional decisions. That's what we always preach here. Like you could do it, but you decided not to, you decided to limit yourself for.

Uh, yeah, for reasons, uh, for quality reasons and for aesthetic reasons. So we want to, that's a very valuable thing right there for our listeners to learn. I think you don't have to use all the gear you have. If you get better results using just what what's actually really good about it and being intentional about example.

Malcom: [00:03:34] Yeah, I, I got more new gear as well though. And I also got the little labs STD the most unfortunately named piece of gear on the planet. But, uh, it, uh, I'm excited for that. If those that don't know, it's like, uh, I don't even know how to describe it. Essentially. It's a guitar Sable or guitars signal, cable preserver.

Thing just gets your, it gets your guitar signal to the app in a better way. Um, [00:04:00] so I'm excited for that. 

Benedikt: [00:04:01] Yeah. STD. I don't know if they didn't think about that name or I don't know what happened, 

Malcom: [00:04:07] but, well, it's, it's the Mark too. So they had a chance to change it and they left it. So it's like, it's gotta be intentional.

Benedikt: [00:04:16] Yeah. So, and do you like it so far? Do you 

Malcom: [00:04:18] enjoy it? It hasn't shown up yet, but I have used them, uh, one of the studios all the time here has one and I, yeah. I, I 

Benedikt: [00:04:24] swear by it. Awesome. Yeah. New gear is always exciting, although it's not the most important thing, but it's still exciting if we get few years. So it gets you pumped up.

Absolutely. Um, that brings me like your story with the, um, what's the band called volt villains, right? Yep. Yeah. I saw it in your posts, I think. And I think they follow the self-reporting band as well. They do social. Yeah. Cool. Awesome. Um, what's interesting about your story is that you said that, uh, they are going to record vocals themselves.

And that brings up a question that I got asked in our Academy community, actually. So this is something that happened inside the Academy. We've launched [00:05:00] it. Um, a while ago, like two weeks ago, I think when this episode airs, but there's a conversation going in the community there. And I'm curious because do, do they do all the vocals themselves, like leads and backing and harmonies and all that?

Yes. Okay. Because one of the students asked them, I'm going to answer this in a private coaching call then they are, but I'm still, I think this is valuable for our audience here as well. Uh, I got the question of, should you. What do you do? Do you ever do backing vocals, um, with a whole group of people like harmonies or backing vocals in general, do you ever have like three people at once singing to the mic or do you one at a time, what do you do there and how is the spent going to do it?

Like, it's an interesting question because he was thinking about if, if you have a group of three and they are a little further away from the mic, it would maybe increase the depth or the sense of distance. And if that was, was a good idea or not, What do you think? 

Malcom: [00:05:52] I generally shy away from it, but I have done it for sure.

Um, it's definitely a sound, uh, it, I [00:06:00] like to use like a stereo pair when I do that, actually I find it weird having three voices, like coming from the exact same spot, it just kinda seems off putting to me. Um, so I, I usually would suggest, uh, like an X, Y or bloom line kind of thing, where it's just slightly stereo to me that makes a world of difference in that situation.

But, uh, I prefer to do vocals one by one for sure. Um, just way easier to, to play somewhere. I wanted that, that situation. Okay. I guess it is a different sound though. What do you think? Um, 

Benedikt: [00:06:31] it depends on if we're talking about whether we're talking about backing vocals and harmonies, or if we're talking about gang vocals, choirs, stuff like that.

If it's like really gang vocals stuff, then I do groups of people sometimes even like five at a time, and then do like, I don't know, eight, eight takes or so, or whatever. And then I end them left 

Malcom: [00:06:48] and right. Yeah. Yeah, definitely a cave. Yeah. Same on that choir thing. Same. The trick is really, is that when you're recording people that are actually singing melodies, so not just like shouting or whatever, [00:07:00] uh, they have to be like straight up professionals.

Otherwise it's a mess, you know, like after you get a couple of layers, it's like, Oh, this sounds bad. I agree. Yeah. I agree. So the power of having the individual ones is that you can fix them up, doing them up and also just coach them to getting better takes as well. Um, it's really hard to have like three people singing and know which one it is like to really be able to discern it on the fly and, and coach them.

Um, and people get a little self-conscious when you're coaching them with like other, their peers are getting no notes and they're getting hammered with like your flat it's tricky. 

Benedikt: [00:07:30] Right. All right. Yeah. Cool. Thanks for that. That's that? That was interesting. So that's a good question though. Yeah, for sure.

Uh, yeah, I'm excited to hear that record though. Um, it's at least partly self recorded and that's always exciting. 

Malcom: [00:07:42] Yeah, definitely. That'd be great. Cool. The cool thing is, is that like they had, they, they decided that before they even could talk to me that like, we want to record our own vocals so we can take, as long as we want on it.

I was like, okay, perfect. That's amazing. And they'll send me the tracks. So if I need another layer, I can just let them know like, Hey, this isn't good enough. Or just give me [00:08:00] another pass of all of this, whatever. Right. We've got that. Flexibility. So I just love that preproduction foresight on their end.

And, uh, also out of interest for bands listening, this band has multi-track demos for every single song that's in consideration for the album, like fully done tempo mapped at all. So that's the standard. 

Benedikt: [00:08:18] Yup. That is the standard for sure. It gets more and more though. I, I like, I, I noticed that even when people like ask me for a mixing quote, usually they send a demo or like a rough mix or something, and that's why I always ask for it.

But now they. More and more sent me multitracks they sent me a sub folder with already, like multi-track pre-pro stuff, which is cool. Aren't like, because they do it, but it's also like that I'm consuming for me to have to load up everything into a session. 

Malcom: [00:08:48] I almost prefer to hear the demo and then get that right after, 

Benedikt: [00:08:51] but it's a good thing that people actually do it.

Take that advice and do it. So. I, I didn't want to stop them from doing that. So that's cool. All right. Let's move to today's episode. We're going to do another [00:09:00] basic concepts episode after we've talked about compression last time. Uh, we're talking about Gates this time about noise Gates. What that actually is, why would you use it?

How it works? All the good stuff. And, um, yeah, let's maybe start by, by telling people what a noise gate or a gate actually is. 

Malcom: [00:09:18] Yeah. So a noise gate is I guess yeah, in my head it's software, but it's definitely not originally, I guess it wasn't, it was, there was hardware devices doing this. Um, but it controls the volume of the channel.

You, you place it on. Um, and I think it's easiest to describe in the extreme where it's taking it from. Full volume, too, muted to zero volume. That's like the most common use of a gate. And, uh, just the easiest way to think of a gate is that it is going to take it from full volume to muted. Um, and there it's similar to a compressor, right?

So we talked about compressors last week. There is like a [00:10:00] threshold and attack and release and all of these parameters, but it's just how it responds is, is that the difference? Um, and in this case, if it doesn't detect enough audio again, so if it's, if there's not audio hitting that threshold, it clamps down on its gate.

And, and then it's going to in this extreme example, again, mute that channel. So think of a snare track. And there's that we have it again. It sounds again, here we go. And there's a high hat for this now, now we're introducing the high hat Pat. Now those high hats might be quite a bit quieter than the snare mic on that snare mic channel.

Right? So you throw a gate on there and the gate, heres the snare hits. Cause they're hitting that threshold, but if you set it right and those hi-hats don't hit the threshold. What's going to happen is instead of going that, like hearing that sound, that channel is PA is going to mute for anything quieter than [00:11:00] those snare hits.

So now you're back to PA PA. Part without the bleed in the middle. So we've now cleaned up everything other than what we actually intended to make on that channel, which is really cool. Yes. Yeah. Did you like that explanation 

Benedikt: [00:11:14] like that? Exactly. That was a good one. Yeah. Um, like the compressor attenuates signals above a certain threshold and the attack attenuates signals below a certain threshold.

That's basically it, how you described it. And I think the one main difference is also that with the compressor we have the ratio. So it attenuates the signal in a certain way. They can, the more you exceed the threshold, the more it's going to attenuate, but with a gate, it reduces it attenuates the signal by a fixed amount, which is the range.

So it's either nothing, as you said, it's going to mute the signal or like you can set a range and tell the gate to reduce everything below the threshold by 10 DB or 20 DB or whatever. Sometimes in the Hyatt example. This can sound a little more natural because every time it, the gate [00:12:00] opens and you have the scenario hit, that will also be a short from the Hyatt's or the symbols along with that scenario hit.

And if you have silence in between, it could sound a little weird. That the high head always gets significantly louder with every scenario hits. So you might leave a little bit of that in, and only reduce it by a couple of DB. So you cleaned it up a little, but it doesn't jump out as much on the snare heads.

So, but it's a fixed amount and you can set it in some Gates and, um, yeah, it's absolutely a hardware device also because yeah, I think of it as plugins, many as well, but there's still like, especially with guitars, it's a very common thing to have a nice gate pedal in front of your amp to reduce. Uh, hum and noise from the amp, especially with high gain amps, right?

Uh it's uh, some amps have it built in like I have a, or like the guitarist of my, of one of my bands. Has an angle, a Powerball. I think I don't personally like that that much, but we haven't met like in the, in the wrestling room, we're at my studio now actually. And, um, it has a nice gate in [00:13:00] the back of it that you can set to mute the, the hum and the hiss and the noise in between, for example, when you do Palm mute parts or like the chucks, you know?

Yeah. It's just, um, very cool thing to have. So definitely hardware as well. And it's 

Malcom: [00:13:14] simple feedback, that kind of stuff as well. Yeah. Yeah, stop it from hearing itself, for sure. Yeah. So do we want to talk about expand like a gate? Does an expander at 

Benedikt: [00:13:25] all really quick. Okay. I think of it as sort of the same way.

It just doesn't attenuated completely, but it's, that's actually not correct because what an expander does is when the it's like the, I think of it as the opposite of a compressor. So whenever the signal goes above the threshold, it doesn't attenuate it. It M it boosts it. So it has a similar effect as a gate that reduces the signal by a couple of DB if it's below the threshold.

Yeah. So it's, it sounds similar than the Gates set like that. But what it actually does is it leaves the signal as it is while it's [00:14:00] below the threshold. And whenever you get above the threshold, it's going to boost it by a couple of DB. So it, it right. Expands the dynamic range. It doesn't reduce it like a compressor.

It gets, it creates more dynamic range. So the louder stuff gets even louder. That's what an expander does. And it sounds similar to a gate set to like, I don't know, minus 10 DB range or so, but it works slightly differently. So that's what an expander does. 

Malcom: [00:14:23] And we're going, gonna intentionally not go really deeper on why you might want to do that for now.

Cause we've got another episode planned for, for using that kind of stuff. Another one we've got on our list here that you wrote in Benny that I really think is great is controlling, headphone bleed on vocals, especially right. Um, you can just set a light gate so that. You know, there's going to be a huge difference in volume between what's coming out of my voice right now, versus when I'm not talking or not singing a line.

And there's like maybe a little metronome lead coming out and you can just cut that out, using a gate. That's a great 

Benedikt: [00:14:53] idea. Oh yeah, totally. I use it on vocals all the time. Actually. I didn't do it as much in the past, but now I use it [00:15:00] more and more to yeah. Get rid of the headphone bleed, get rid of like weird noises in the room sometimes.

Or. Even like excessive breathing, mouth noises, stuff like that. If you set it in a way, if you, yeah. If you are a smart about setting all the parameters on the gate and we get to talk about that, then, um, you can set it in a way that it doesn't get rid of all the breathing, for example, but it just makes it a little softer or quieter.

Um, and yeah, headphone bleed, absolutely. Mike with these episodes. For example, with this podcast, I use a gate on both our voices. Like I get rid of the fan noise on the laptop. That's right in front of me. I get rid of maybe headphone bleed while you're talking, could be. Um, I get, uh, although that monitoring that loud, but it could be.

Um, so I I'm using a gate on our voices here and I also shot myself in the foot sort of with it already because when you listen to, if you've listened to, um, the acoustics episode, the interview with the ESCO Lohan that we did, we did a little experiment there where we showed how our rooms. [00:16:00] Sounded when we go further away from the mics and I forgot to turn off the gate.

And what happens was when we get really far away from our mics, especially Malcolm, because your room is really, really quiet and quiet and treated. Uh, when Malcolm's voice dropped below the threshold of the gate, you couldn't hear him talk anymore. And our experiment was ruined. So I had to re upload the episode.

Now it's fixed. You can listen back to that episode, if you haven't yet, it's fixed. Now you can hear the experiment now, actually, but when I first exported it, I didn't think about it. And I forgot to turn off. The gate on our channels and it drew in the experiment. So yeah. Now you can hear it. If you've listened to that episode with the original one, you could hear a gate in action.

Malcom: [00:16:40] Go wrong. Yeah, exactly. But now you're hearing a gate doing what it's meant to do actually. Yeah. Exactly. Hopefully, cause I am like, we just had, I'm using a new pre-AP so hopefully my game's not set too low. And you remember, I always, and 

Benedikt: [00:16:53] I have, because I'm smart. I'm smart about things like that, that I have like a checklist and I always check [00:17:00] stuff like that.

Of course, when I export the final files and also I have a visual reference because I have to. One of the first episodes. Uh, I have the files in my template and I can compare, clip the clip gain to whatever that episode was and like, kinda match it every time. Genius. 

Malcom: [00:17:15] Yeah. Thank you. Hey, this is, uh, this is brought up a small tangent.

I want to go on. Okay. Cool. Self recording bands, especially actually specifically. So now that we've got you all recording your own tracks and you're sending it to guys like us to mix. And guys or girls. That's awesome. Love ya. Now we just talked about gating vocals to clean them up. But what we should actually also talk about is manually cleaning them.

Um, I know the same thing we're doing and the reason I forgot vocals, just because I feel like many people don't know that's a thing. But when you record a vocal, you are meant to go in and clean up all the stuff in between singing, essentially not necessarily the breasts, I would say probably veer on the side of leaving the breasts.

Um, if you're [00:18:00] unsure, but, uh, All of the stuff that is just like audio of them sitting there breathing lightly in the background, waiting to sing. That's all meant to go. And you're meant to just kind of like go through, clean it up, crossfade that in and out, whatever. And then, then send it to us. We can do it for you, but it's yeah.

You know, that's part of it. Um, and while we're talking about that, some things you might use a gate on like a Toms, for example, um, cause Toms don't get hit very often. Right. So it's very common to just have them. Come into play when they're actually played. So you could use a gate or you could go in and manually clean out all that space, right?

Same with like a high hat mic. When they're on the ride, do we need the high hat like ringing and think about that? Cause the Hyatt Mike's also panned to the other side. So you're hearing the right now come from that mic on the wrong side of the kit. Um, that usually gets cleaned up as well. But with drums then, I mean, this is my opinion.

I'm curious with you, Betty, but I would tell a band, never do clean. Like manually cutting clean drums. Uh, [00:19:00] Before sending. Cause like I, sometimes I like the Tom's wide open, you know, for example. 

Benedikt: [00:19:07] Yeah, exactly. It depends. It depends sometimes I like them wide open, but I, I didn't like there wasn't a situation where I thought, well, I wished they wouldn't have cleaned it so they don't clean it off in any ways.

But when they do, I usually, I usually am grateful for having cleaned up drags and all of them so far did a good job at it. And I, but yeah, I wouldn't. I don't tell them to do it because it could go wrong. You could, you might accidentally cut off the sustained too early, or you might cut into the transient a little, or you might forget a hit or two that happened.

Actually, sometimes I get. Drums where I here in the overheads, they're supposed to be a Tom, but it's not on the top track. I had that. So yeah, I don't, I don't recommend doing it if you're not really sure what you're doing. 

Malcom: [00:19:52] Yeah. It's, it's hard to know without like, cause we talked about compression where we're really affecting the sustain and time.

[00:20:00] Uh, of these drums, right. By how we're compressing them and stuff. So it's hard to know what you need to do without that vision in your mind of the mixer. Yeah. So, um, probably veer on the side of Clinton or leaving those lateral, but the vocals go ahead. 

Benedikt: [00:20:14] Clean them up. Yeah, totally. What I definitely would not do.

And that also came up in the Academy, but during the better program last year, Um, there is a module in there where I tell people in it as how that all the time, basically when I tell people that they should be bold and, um, just be brave enough to record through whatever gear they have, if they think it sounds cool.

I always want to encourage people to do that, but then I got a comment from a student and he's totally right with that. He said like, yeah, um, that's good advice, but maybe be careful with things. That are destructive and could go wrong, like using gate on dates, on drums while you're recording, for example.

And I totally agree, like there is, if you think you have a cool compressor and that just sounds great. And you like that tone while you're tracking base or were locals or whatever, go ahead and do it, but I would not [00:21:00] recommend. Using, for example, the hardware Gates or whatever, if you tracked drums, like don't do that.

Just don't you can always clean it up later into the risk. The risk is not worth it. You're not gaining anything by doing that. It's like, you're probably degrading the signal a bit by running it through some crappy Gates and there's too much that could go wrong. So no benefit, but a lot of risk.


Malcom: [00:21:20] I, I, a hundred percent agree. There's there's certain things that. Computers have done such a good job at making our lives easier that it it's like a total shame to go back. And Gates are the prime example. Gates are a pain in the ass to set actually. Um, and especially when you're not using a computer one year, you're looking at like this little terrible resolution meter on a piece of hardware.

Sometimes there's not even a meter. And, um, you know, because you're expecting your drummer to play so consistently then, so they might hit the floor, Tom loud one time and it works perfectly, but if they hit it too soft, next time now there's no Tom getting recorded disaster. Um, [00:22:00] yeah. Have you heard about how some people used to get around that?

Uh, I heard some fascinating stuff where they would make up the drums and keep in mind back in the day, people used to Mike Thompson actually like really far away, which sounds awesome if you can do it, but like, so picture a large diaphragm or like a foot or two off the Tom is going to sound pretty cool.

I bet. But like if you had symbols going and stuff or, or just a drum kit being played, it'd be a mess right here, everything, but he's heard a condenser microphone in sight. You can hear your dog breathing in a different room. What they would do is either have like a trigger on the, on the drum or another mic, just like, as close as possible.

And that sound would be. They hit the drum and that sound would trigger the gate to open. And then they would time the, that to open slow enough that it opened in time for the mic. Like that's delayed a little bit by being a couple of feet away from the drum. So it was the gate was [00:23:00] being controlled by a close mic so that it would hit the mic way further away.

Pretty weird. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:23:05] Yeah. I've definitely heard that in a way. I still do that today when I mix but differently. And we're going to talk about that in another episode about side chaining, but that's really interesting because what we already can tell you is that compressors and Gates, they listened to a signal and then they apply whatever you set with the parameters to the signal.

But the signal that they listen to and the signal that they apply the processing to. Don't have to be the same. So you can, you can make a gate, listen to one signal and apply the, the processing to another signal. So you can make the gate, listen to the close mic, as Malcolm said, but apply the gating to the Mike further way.

And the same thing can be done in the dark. So you can have a mini note or a key spike, like short impulse. Um, you can make that impulse open the gate, but the gate is actually on another track where the actual Tom is, and you can do all sorts of cool things with that. And we're going [00:24:00] to talk about that in a, in a separate episode, because I chaining is a really cool concept.

Um, but that's essentially what it is. Yeah. It's a really smart way to go around there, but what's interesting to me always when I hear stuff like that is, and the problem that I run into myself frequently is even when you do that, The bleed will be so loud on that. Tom Mike of that, as soon as it opens, just still going to have, you're going to hear the Tom, but if there's a symbol right before the Tom hit, you're going to hear a lot of that.

And it's going to sound weird and you get this real weird, this, these weird splashy sort of short blips of symbols all over the place. So a great tip here, thing, I think a valuable piece of advice would be. To write your drum parts in a way when you have a set up like that. And when you know, maybe that the drummer isn't the hardest hitting person, for example, maybe write your drum tracks in a way that you avoid.

Allowed like allowed hit on the right symbol, for example, right [00:25:00] before he hit the floor, Tom, maybe do it differently. Maybe use another symbol that's further away, or like, just be smart about those things. Or don't do a complicated Tom Phil with aloud symbol hit right in between, uh, in the middle of the field, close to a mic, maybe avoid stuff like that.

If at all possible you can, sometimes these things are not necessary. And if you're smart about that, You can get a really great Tom sound without the bleed problems. That's just something people don't just don't think about. Often enough. I often get tracks where there is a really cool Tom field, but I just can't use the natural drums because they decided to crash the rides and bull, like in the middle of the fill and it's all over the place.


Malcom: [00:25:37] yeah. Yep. Yep. I know what you mean. It it's tricky or you could record sand symbols. Yeah, 

Benedikt: [00:25:43] exactly. So, yeah, but like that's also with the high Hep bleed on the snare. It's a similar thing. When, when I tell people how important the signal, like the symbol to shell balances and to control the hi-hats and hit the snare hard, um, they always say, or [00:26:00] often they say, but you can just gate it or clean it up, but here's, that's the thing you, you can't really because you can gate out everything that's in between the snare hits, but whenever the gate opens you still going to hear that loud, high hat.

So. A gate can do a lot, but it can't get rid of the Hyatt entirely just in between the hits. No, 

Malcom: [00:26:18] no. Um, yeah. And that is another reason just to always be conscious of what the bleed situation is. There's always going to be plead. Um, so that's one of the things that's hard to figure out when you're getting started.

You're like, Oh, I can hear the high hat. Like we must have to change something. I know you're always going to hear the high hat and the snare mic or any mic. Um, but it's how much right. And a little goes a long way. We've we've mentioned that before. Um, so always like as far away as you can get it, I say, but drummers seem to disagree with me.

I'm like, what do you mean you can't reach it? That's fine. 

Benedikt: [00:26:53] Now let's talk about the parameters and the actual, how. So it's not really a lot of new stuff here [00:27:00] because we already talked about those things. When we talked about compressors, it's just maybe a couple of things we need to add here. So the threshold is a certain volume level and let's, let's call it, like call it that, uh, it's a certain volume level.

And whenever the signal is below that level, below that threshold, the gate will not open in its simplest form, or it will reduce it by 10 DB or whatever you set the range to be. So that's the threshold, the attack. Tell us the gate, how fast it should open once the signal goes above the threshold. And, uh, I don't know if you ever, like, you probably have Malcolm, but there's a thing that I can't really explain why that is.

I I'd have to look it up, but you would think with a fast transient, like a snare drum. Or a Tom or whatever, if you set the, the attack to the fastest possible, like zero milliseconds or one mil or 0.1 milliseconds or whatever the fastest is, if you do that, it should open right away and all the transient should get through without cutting into the transient or losing anything.

But whenever [00:28:00] you do that with most Gates, you create a weird clicky noise or an overly hard. Weird attack. Like almost like a, if you forgot to do a crossfade or something like that, I don't, I can't actually explain why that happens, but to me it's like always, even if I lose a bit of the transient, I always set the attack to, I don't know, one millisecond or not 0.5 or 0.2 or whatever.

Yeah. It's pretty much the fastest setting. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:28:26] Yeah. I agree. It seems to be. Too risky to go further than that. Um, and in the side chain episode, we can talk about ways to get around that. Yes, you actually as well. Um, yeah, now like a compressor, there's the release, but there's also a hold, which is handy.

Um, and hold it's just like how long it's going to stay open without doing any thing. Cause the release. Is how long it takes to return to its default. Um, but that can be a gradual thing, right? Where hold is just like you set it to one second, the gate opens. And from that point, it's going to stay just wide [00:29:00] open for that whole second.

And then the police will kick. 

Benedikt: [00:29:03] I think it's totally right. It just stays open. And then when the hold is over, the period is over the release sets in, it kicks in and then it's slowly closes now. 

Malcom: [00:29:13] Why there's a reason. This is really interesting though, is because you can really change how a drum sounds with this.

Um, you can have it go wide open and then the release be insanely quick. So it just mutes off sentences, you know, like rather than like you've got control over how the note ends entirely now, way more so than a compressor, I think. 

Benedikt: [00:29:34] Do you know, like for you people listening, if you think of eighties drums, like big.

Almost like from today's point of view, almost like cheesy sounding eighties drums with a lot of reverb, there is this gated reverb effect or these typically gated drums that we, we know, like we think of when you think of Eddie swamps, Thinkful Collins or anything like that, where you'd have these big open drums with a lot [00:30:00] of rework, but then all of a sudden they're just, it's just over, it's like half a second or so.

And then the hitting is over. Uh, and that that's exactly what happens. Like it's. It opens, it stays open and then it closes very quickly and you get a very long snare or Tom, but it doesn't slowly decay. It just opens and closes and opens and closes. And you, yeah, that's this, this explosive sounding gated reverb, sound of eighties drums.

That's like playing with the release and Holden times. Yeah, 

Malcom: [00:30:26] it can be very cool. Uh, I personally love that. 

Benedikt: [00:30:29] Yeah, me too. Me too, but it can sound sort of cheesy or a dated, but he can sound really cool if in the right context, it's still. 

Malcom: [00:30:36] I kind of think it's 

Benedikt: [00:30:37] coming back in style right now. Oh yeah. Yeah. I agree.

Yeah. Yeah. That's and you can also just change or you can, you can use a gate to not only get rid of bleed, but if you have Toms, for example, that bring just a little too long and you want to shorten them instead of using a transient designer or like some sustain tool, you could just use a gate and set and play with the Holden release until you get [00:31:00] enough sustain like enough ring, but not too much, you can just shorten the drum.

Um, with a gate, uh, there could be a reason, like I sometimes use Gates even on Toms that have already been cleaned up not to reduce the bleed, but just to check to alter the same behavior of the top. 

Malcom: [00:31:16] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. They're really powerful. Yeah. I mean, they get used all the time. If you've done a live show, you've probably had a gate on your mic, right.

That live sound guys use them like wizards. Um, yeah, totally, totally 

Benedikt: [00:31:29] handy. Okay. One way to go around the attack problem that I described a couple of minutes ago is by the way, and that's a control that I didn't add to our notes here. Mont com that is the look ahead function that a lot of Gates have.

Yeah, you can set a gate too. Um, yeah, you can make, basically make the gate look into the future if you will. And like, know that there's a hip coming, like the Gates, the gate knows that a couple of milliseconds before it actually happens. Uh, and then it. You can have the release set [00:32:00] to one millisecond or whatever, but if you set the look ahead to two minutes, seconds, it will still open early enough to let the transient through the attacks through, without cutting into it.

Yes. So the, the only problem with that is it's achieved by delaying a bunch of other tracks to make that happen. And you can, it can cause. Um, we're delay and phase issues with other tracks and your door. And that's a whole can of worms that you're going to open the view. If you do that, some dos the compensate for it or the stone, some do it better.

And others don't, I don't know, but often, often I couldn't use it because then my Thomas would be out of phase with the overheads or whatever. But if you have a single signal, like a vocal, you can use the look ahead function. You can make the look of the gate, look into the future. A couple of milliseconds.

And, uh, set the, the attack so that it sounds good and still not lose anything, um, from your transgender attack, the signal. 

Malcom: [00:32:51] Yeah. The real test is going to be, if you just heard the blender going off in my kitchen because our blender is insanely loud. I could hear it [00:33:00] very clearly in here. Um, but if you can hear it in the episode, the gate.

Didn't work, but I'm going to have it. I've got to bet that you don't, you don't hear a blender in that episode and they took care of it for you. I hope so. 

Benedikt: [00:33:11] Either the gate or Thomas. 

Malcom: [00:33:13] Yeah. Wonderful. What it's going to be like. Nope. So 

Benedikt: [00:33:18] yeah, that was cool. Um, Thomas is, by the way, Thomas is a great dude. He's editing the episodes for you here.

He's doing every single episode for the past 50 episodes or so is everything, everything. Uh, and, uh, he probably takes care of the blender. I assume the 


Malcom: [00:33:35] behind the audio for sure. 

Benedikt: [00:33:38] All right. Anything to add to this Malcolm? Uh, you 

Malcom: [00:33:41] know, I think that's great, man. Um, Like we've said, we planned to talk about side chaining, which is deeply related to both this and, uh, and our compression episode.

So it's going to be kind of like the secret sauce that ties it all together, I think. Um, and we've already kind of hinted at it a few times. So I think anything that could be [00:34:00] added could also be saved for that episode as well. 

Benedikt: [00:34:02] So this is all right. That's great. Hope that's been helpful. I hope you really liked those basic concepts episodes.

Maybe, um, drop us like a message, an email, or leave a comment or, yeah. Right. Write a review for the show. Um, let us know in any way, shape or form, if you like these episodes, if you should do more of these, I think it's very valuable to us to understand these concepts. That's why we'll, we're talking about them.

Even if some of them like gating are not really relevant for recording, they're more relevant for mixing, but it's the good to know about that stuff. So that's why we decided to do it. Let us know absolutely comment. Um, write a review, write us an email, whatever post in the community. And we're going to keep doing episodes like that until we get back to.

Another topic. 

Malcom: [00:34:47] Yeah, absolutely. And in the Facebook community feel free to leave like post what you would like us to cover as well. Maybe there's a basic concept that we should be covering that we haven't even considered. You know, if you don't know what reverb [00:35:00] is, let us know. 

Benedikt: [00:35:01] Totally. And if you're wondering what community we're talking about, go to the self recording bank.com/community, or just search for the self recording band community on Facebook.

It's a free Facebook community. And, uh, it's a great place. It's we have discussions there. We talk about what we talk about in these episodes. We answer questions. You can interact with your peers, with other bands. You can start conversations there. Um, it's a very friendly, um, yeah. Cool. Yeah. 

Malcom: [00:35:30] Yeah. People are 

Benedikt: [00:35:31] sharing the tracks.

They're joining us. Can't wait to see you in there. The set of recording band.com/. Community 

Malcom: [00:35:37] officially the best Facebook group for audio. 

Benedikt: [00:35:42] Exactly. Exactly. 

Malcom: [00:35:43] You heard it here? Shit, definitely. Yeah. 

Benedikt: [00:35:46] Okay, cool. Awesome. Um, that's it for today's episode. Thank you for listening. We'll see you next week. Bye .

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