Noise Gate – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Microphones and Audio Hardware Glossary

What is a Noise Gate?

A noise gate is a device used in audio production to control unwanted noise in a signal. It is commonly used in recording studios, live sound setups, and home recording environments to eliminate background noise, hum, hiss, and other unwanted sounds that can detract from the quality of the audio signal.

How does a Noise Gate work?

A noise gate works by setting a threshold level, below which any incoming signal is attenuated or completely muted. When the incoming signal falls below the threshold level, the noise gate closes, effectively cutting off the signal until it rises above the threshold level again. This helps to eliminate unwanted noise during silent passages or breaks in the audio signal.

When should a Noise Gate be used?

A noise gate should be used whenever there is unwanted noise present in an audio signal that needs to be eliminated. This can include background noise from air conditioning units, fans, or other equipment, as well as hum, hiss, or other interference that can be picked up during recording or live performances. Noise gates are particularly useful for cleaning up guitar and bass tracks, vocals, and drum recordings.

What are the different types of Noise Gates?

There are two main types of noise gates: hardware and software. Hardware noise gates are standalone devices that are typically used in recording studios and live sound setups. They can be rack-mounted or pedal-sized units that are connected to the audio signal chain. Software noise gates, on the other hand, are plugins that can be used within digital audio workstations (DAWs) to control noise in a signal.

There are also different variations of noise gates, including single-channel and multi-channel gates, as well as stereo gates for processing stereo signals. Some noise gates also offer additional features such as sidechain inputs, lookahead functionality, and adjustable attack and release times for more precise noise control.

How to set up a Noise Gate?

Setting up a noise gate involves adjusting the threshold level, attack and release times, and other parameters to effectively control unwanted noise in an audio signal. The threshold level determines the point at which the noise gate opens and closes, while the attack time controls how quickly the gate reacts to incoming signals, and the release time determines how quickly the gate closes after the signal falls below the threshold level.

To set up a noise gate, start by adjusting the threshold level so that it is just above the level of the unwanted noise. Then, adjust the attack and release times to achieve a smooth and natural-sounding gating effect. It may take some trial and error to find the right settings for your specific audio signal, so be prepared to make adjustments as needed.

What are some popular Noise Gate models on the market?

There are several popular noise gate models on the market that are widely used in recording studios and live sound setups. Some of the top noise gate brands include:

– Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor: A popular pedal-sized noise gate that offers a simple and effective solution for eliminating unwanted noise in guitar and bass signals.
– MXR M135 Smart Gate: Another pedal-sized noise gate that provides precise noise control with adjustable threshold, attack, and release times.
– dbx 266xs: A rack-mounted dual-channel noise gate and compressor that offers professional-level noise reduction and dynamic control.
– Waves NS1 Noise Suppressor: A software noise gate plugin that can be used within DAWs to clean up audio signals with ease.

These are just a few examples of the many noise gate models available on the market. When choosing a noise gate, consider factors such as the type of audio signal you will be processing, the level of noise reduction needed, and any additional features that may be important for your specific application.