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Tips & Techniques:Drums - Using noise gates - in a DAW

Here's a technique for using a noise gate in a DAW on drums to help you NOT lose the 'front end' or attack of the sound as you normally would when using a noise gate.

You will need a noise gate plug in with an 'external key' function.

1) Select the track you want gated and duplicate it / create a 'copy track' (make sure it it NOT routed to the mix buss)
2) Put the noise gate on the original track (not the copy track)
3) Feed the external key of that plug in with the copy tracks output

This allows you to do a few cool things

1) You can do some extreme eq filtering in this key 'trigger' track to make the gate action happen more reliably (kill ALL sub bass rumble or ALL hi hat frequencies that accidentally trigger the gate when you don't want it to... etc)

2) You can ADVANCE this copy 'gate trigger' track, (try moving it forward (nudging) by 2 or 3 milliseconds) This is SUPER cool as it will now cause the gate to open a split second BEFORE the actual drum hit - so you suffer NO LOSS of attack at all. (remember to adjust the attack time to not let through any audible 'pre drum hit' sound)

3) Its not as drastic as chopping all the 'bleed through' audio off. (many people regard the bleed as essential to good 'natural' drum sound) What you can do with this technique, is start with a 'fully gated' sound (to set up the gate, get any drum eq the way you like it etc) then you can experiment with adjusting the gate settings to let through some of the bleed. Remember - when using a gate you don't HAVE to have the sound 100% gated, you can use gates to REDUCE bleed but keep some of it.. That can help towards a more natural drum sound, making it less 'jerky' or artificially processed sounding but with a good degree of control or 'bleed through management'.

The only negative aspect of this technique is that it creates extra work managing the copy 'trigger track' files in your session (keeping them hidden / out of the way / out of the mix bus etc)

Contributors: mw, Jules
Created by Jules, 30th January 2008 at 11:34 AM
Last edited by mw, 27th March 2012 at 03:05 PM
Last comment by twilight on 3rd August 2008 at 02:02 PM
2 Comments, 18,195 Views

(2) Comments for: Drums - Using noise gates - in a DAW Page Tools Search this Page
Old 11th March 2008
Gear Addict
primemeat64's Avatar

If a plugin has a "look-ahead", is that basically the same thing?

Of course, "look-ahead" doesn't allow for the more reliable response via extreme hi/low passing on the "trigger track"....
Old 3rd August 2008
Gear nut
twilight's Avatar

Originally Posted by primemeat64 View Post
If a plugin has a "look-ahead", is that basically the same thing?
Yes it is.

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