Noise Gates - Side-chaining Tricks

What is a gate, how it works and how to use the side-chaining facility. In this video I use the side-chain of a gate to process a drum beat.

Beat Construction


Purchase to view this tutorial

By purchasing this tutorial, you'll get immediate access - your purchase helps create new and exciting content and this site survive!

£3.00Add to basket


The most common forms of noise are microphone related. Headphone spill which is the microphone picking up the headphone over-spill is the most common form of noise that plagues mic recordings. Background noise – anything from the room, outdoors or even the singer moving around and knocking the stand are termed as noise as they are printed on the recording. Now imagine countless channels of mic recordings all playing at the same time in your mix. The noise sums in exactly the same way that ‘clean’ audio does.

To get rid of noise we use a process that has remained unchanged since inceptions. It is the Noise Gate.

What is a noise gate

A Gate is a device or plugin that behaves like a downward expander with infinite ratio. A downward compressor processes the signal that exceeds the threshold. A gate processes the signal that falls BELOW the threshold. When the signal falls below the threshold it is attenuated or silenced. The gate opens as the signal rises above a threshold, and closes when it falls below it. How this is achieved is determined by the various features gates offer.

  • Attack and Release determine how the gate closes and open.
  • Some gates offer a hold feature which keeps the gate open for a specified time and prevents ‘chattering’ (the gate opens and closes rapidly in succession).
  • Some gates will work in either Peak or RMS Mode.
  • Range determines by how much the signal is attenuated. This is often used to avoid abrupt closing/opening. It allow for a smoother transition.
  • Some gates have side-chaining which helps to fine tune the gate’s behaviour and it is this area we are going to explore in this video.

The power of side-chaining

The part of the circuitry that monitors the input level is known as the side-chain, and it controls that part of the circuitry that adjusts the gain of the main signal path. Additionally, most side-chains have filtering features so the incoming audio signal can be filtered to provide different triggering responses. Using the gate’s side-chain feature opens up a whole new world of sound design processes. We can create stutter effects, slow drops, screeching climbs, staccato beats and so on.

In the video I cover, in detail, how a noise gate works and specifically how its side-chain can be used to create new sonic textures from existing material. I delve deep into explaining how to sculpt the side-chain for various tasks with emphasis on suitable settings and best practices.

Plugins used in this video:

D16 Drumazon

FabFilter Pro G

Topics covered in this video are:

  • What is a gate, how does it work and how do you use it with side-chaining
  • S/C Filtering
  • Triggering and Threshold
  • Hold, Attack and Release
  • Routing and the Signal Path