Gates – Friend or ?

Dave Cracked Up (Blog), Creating, Engineering, Music/Audio 1 Comment

I’ve heard and seen a few posts putting the Gate in the “obsolete” bin citing that you can do the same thing with tools such as “Remove Silence from Waveform” in your DAW or just going in and cutting things out by hand.

I can see that for some tracks, but for me, I use gates beyond the binary on/off settings that some instinctively think of them as and I know you can probably go beyond that as well – I just haven’t found the time or reason to yet…

I’ll go in and cut out “silence” in an audio track if there’s really annoying elements coming through in between the desired audio and the “silence” is in big enough chunks. Otherwise, I don’t mind putting a gate on it.

One example of how I use a gate is when I’m mixing speaking voices.

I’ve gotten some doozy tracks where there’s a lot of background noise coming through in between the speaking – chair squeeks, clothes rustling, kids whining… When there’s nothing BUT the voices, and you start doing some hard and fast cutting, I find those edits become more annoying and noticeable issues than the original problems. That’s one instance where I’ll slap on a gate and set look-ahead to a half second, the gate a moderate attack, sustain and then slow release. I’ll also not let it clamp down entirely on the track when the audio goes below the threshold – usually 15-20dB below the threshold to leave some sort of “room tone” seems to be less jarring.

There are other examples, but just wanted to see if there are any other proponents or detractors to using gates out there.

Comments 1

  1. Agreed. The thing about gates, particularly expanders, is that they allow you to turn the background noise DOWN without turning it entirely off.

    Entirely off, like you said, can sound bad.

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