Noise Gate – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Audio Equipment Glossary

I. What is a Noise Gate?

A noise gate is an audio processing tool used to control unwanted noise in audio signals. It is commonly used in recording studios, live sound setups, and guitar rigs to eliminate background noise, hum, and hiss. The noise gate works by automatically reducing the volume of a signal below a certain threshold, effectively muting any noise that falls below that level.

II. How does a Noise Gate work?

A noise gate operates by detecting the level of the incoming audio signal and applying a volume reduction when the signal falls below a set threshold. When the signal surpasses the threshold, the gate opens, allowing the audio to pass through unaffected. This process helps to eliminate unwanted noise during silent passages or breaks in the audio signal.

III. What are the benefits of using a Noise Gate?

– Eliminates unwanted noise: A noise gate helps to clean up audio signals by reducing background noise and interference.
– Improves audio quality: By removing unwanted noise, a noise gate can enhance the clarity and intelligibility of audio recordings.
– Creates a cleaner mix: Using a noise gate can help to create a more polished and professional-sounding mix by reducing distractions and improving overall sound quality.

IV. How to set up a Noise Gate?

Setting up a noise gate involves adjusting the threshold, attack, hold, and release parameters to achieve the desired level of noise reduction without affecting the audio signal. The threshold determines the level at which the gate activates, while the attack, hold, and release settings control how quickly the gate opens and closes. It is important to experiment with these settings to find the optimal balance between noise reduction and audio quality.

V. What are some popular Noise Gate models on the market?

– Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor: A popular choice among guitarists for eliminating noise in pedalboard setups.
– dbx 266xs Dual Compressor/Gate: A versatile unit that combines compression and gating functions for precise control over audio signals.
– Behringer XR4400 Multigate Pro: A rack-mounted unit with four channels of noise gating for professional audio applications.

VI. How does a Noise Gate differ from a compressor?

While both a noise gate and a compressor are used to control audio dynamics, they serve different purposes. A noise gate is primarily used to eliminate unwanted noise by muting signals below a certain threshold, whereas a compressor is used to smooth out the dynamic range of audio signals by reducing the level of peaks and boosting the level of quieter passages. In essence, a noise gate is more focused on noise reduction, while a compressor is more focused on dynamic control.