MixCoach Podcast 063: Noise Gates

How I gate- How I use noise Gates image

noise gates, gates, gate

In this episode we chat about how we’ve used noise gates in the past, as well as some other possible uses.

Raw Transcript:

Kevin: This is the Mix Coach Podcast, Episode 63.

John: On this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about noisegating: When
to use it, when to not use it. What are some options whenever you do
use it? Everything related to noisegating. Hey, Kev. How’s it going?

Kevin: Hey, John.

John: This week on the podcast, we’re talking about some of the more
technical aspects of mixing. The topic today is noise gates: When do
you use them? When do you not use them? When have you seen other
people use them? Noise gates; Kevin, when do you use them?

Kevin: When do I use noise gates?

John: Yes.

Kevin: I don’t use . . .I used to use noise gates a lot before Pro
Tools made it so visual. These days, I don’t use them as much. For
instance, a go-to on a noise gate for me would be toms. Toms,
depending on how they’re tuned, the player, the kit; sometimes they’ll
sit there . . . we talked about low frequency. That’s one of the
things that eats up low frequency, is toms. While they sound great
when you have a lot of low-end like . . . you want them to sound big
and thunderous. When they’re sitting there without a noise gate on
them, they’re muddying the low end up.

John: Just introducing a lot of noise.

Kevin: Most of the time if I have enough time to do this and I think
it warrants it, I’ll go through and just do strip silence on Pro
Tools, and I’ll just mute the whole track and then un-mute the toms. I
do have a preset and it’s on a tutorial video that I have on YouTube,
where I will actually go and use the frequency of the tom, the
fundamental frequency of the tom, to key open a noise gate. I’ll do that
sometimes. Sometimes I use . . . it seems like I never use a noise
gate conventionally. I never just set the threshold and just set it. I
usually make it depend on a certain frequency to make it open a little
cleaner, because noise gates, while they can clean up a mix, they can
also make it sterile. You have to approach it from a musical
standpoint. Other than that, I hardly ever use noise gates.

John: I know that there’s a lot of people who use . . . even like Chris
Lord-Alge, I feel like; he says he always uses a noise gate
on electric guitars, which again to me in the Pro Tools age, I don’t
necessarily know that that’s necessary, because any time there’s not
something going, you can always go in and trim off the silence and do
a quick fade or something. That’s essentially gating it and having
more control over the specific use of the gate. Even on some mixes, I
think there are some mixes of peoples that I’ve heard the gates pop
open on electric guitars. It sits wrong with me to hear the gate pop

Kevin: I’m a big fan of Chris and I love his mixes. I actually studied
his mixes for a period of time in my life when I would put headphones
on, listen to it with different kinds of speakers, and I did notice
that he does use noise gates. The speed and his workflow, the speed at
which he mixes, I imagine he uses noise gates as part of his workflow,
and he doesn’t want to sit around and do the left-brain, right-brain
thing of . . .

John: Trimming.

Kevin: . . . analyzing, trimming and muting. Maybe he’d let an
assistant do it. I think when he was mixing, that’s back before . . .
I don’t even know if he uses Pro Tools now; maybe somebody on the . .
. one of the listeners can comment. At the time he was using a Sony
3348, and I’m pretty sure that noise gates would have been pretty
helpful with that. I can see why he uses noise gates because it does
keep it clean.

John: His point was the electric guitars, whether it could be the quietest
amp in the world, but it’s introducing at least a little bit of noise
whenever it’s not playing. That makes perfect sense, especially in
some of the rock recordings; they’re introducing a lot of noise. It
raises the noise floor of your mix, muddies it up.

Something that whenever you mentioned toms, a reason to gate or at
least to trim off the silence, in addition to just making a little bit
cleaner, it helps you localize where the drums are and the cymbals are
whenever there’s not all this bleed coming through into the tom
microphones. It helps for localization. That way whenever the toms pop
open, you literally can point exactly where the toms. That’s really a
nice thing, as well.

Kevin: There was a, on a ‘Mix Coach Minute’ episode on YouTube, I
mentioned mixing the thick part of the song. I think visually, you can
see where everything’s playing at once, where toms are going.
Sometimes, it’s nice to see where you . . . make it a little easier to
see where the thick part of the song is so you can just mix that
section and know that 80% of the work is done for the mix when you get
that section . . .

John: Sounding right.

Kevin: . . . balanced.

John: Yeah, absolutely. That covers the . . . do you have anything else

Kevin: The bottom line is that noise gates are cool. They’re very
useful and there’s no replacement for them if you need them. As part
of my workflow, I hardly ever use them unless it’s on toms, usually.
That’s when I need to move through a mix pretty fast. I even have
presets for a high tom, a mid tom, and a low tom.

John: Nice.

Kevin: I used to before I changed systems.

John: Right on. That covers the talk on noise gates.

Kevin: Thanks for listening. This has been the Mix Coach Podcast; the
podcast dedicated to making your next recording your best recording.
For more tips, tutorials, and even a free course, be sure and visit us
at MixCoach.com.


Let us know: Are you using a noise gate for anything?

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