Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Post Reply
Joefro
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:34 am

Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by Joefro » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:22 am

So I've been reading through Rick Snoman's Dance Music Manual at the advice of many, and I was a little confused when I read the section about Noise Gates (pages 48-50).

He describes how they are used to cut out the unwanted low-level background noise to achieve absolute silence during your gaps as the primary use. But wouldnt it be easier just to turn the track volume to zero, or cut the audio out of the track altogether for that period of time?

He talks about tweaking the attack on the attack on the gate so that sounds can fade in, instead of jumping in and out abruptly. Again, couldn't you just create an envelope on the track volume in Ableton instead, and visually draw how you want it to fade in instead of tweaking values trying to get it just right?

Similarly, he goes on to talk about how you can manipulate release time and threshold to achieve effects that I also see to be more difficult than just drawing envelopes on the track volume.

I know I've heard people mentioning they use noise gates on these forums, so what am I missing? Thanks again from a beginner trying to figure this out.

agent314
Posts: 1447
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:07 am

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by agent314 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:42 am

Doing it by hand becomes tedious, fast.

Imagine you have 4-bar loop of a snare that you recorded/downloaded, which has 8 snare hits in it. There's background noise between the hits that you'd like to get rid of.

Imagining the hits are exactly 1 beat long so you can use the pencil tool to automate the volume to zero, you're going to have to click+drag a minimum of 8 times to get the silence you want, whereas with a gate, you can set it to the appropriate threshold and it'll do all the work for you.

If you have a 32 bar loop where you want to drop off any hihat ghost notes, you're going to have to manually click to automate possibly dozens of times, and even then it's going to be imperfect.

A gate lets you have that happen automatically, once you've tweaked the level to where you want it.

Joefro
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:34 am

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by Joefro » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:50 am

Thanks, I hadn't thought of it from a purely time-saving standpoint. Also, almost every time hear about people sampling drums, it's taking the individual hit into something like impulse and then just placing that hit wherever you need it with silence (or whatever) in between. So many different ways to do something, it's nice. :)

Tone Deft
Posts: 23745
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm
Location: SF, CA

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by Tone Deft » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:55 am

that book is a good guide but question everything it says. in some aspects a lot of us moan at the advice he gives.

I play guitar and on high gain tones the guitar just wails when it's not being played, so slap a gate on it and the idle noise goes away, for example.
"Obsession is a great substitute for talent." - Steve Martin on learning the banjo

Dell Inspiron 15 7000, Live 10.1, Win10 Home, Edirol UA101, APC40, Remote SL, SPD-SX, mic, guitars, JX305, Nova
soundcloud.com/tone-deft

doghouse
Posts: 1413
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 5:30 pm

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by doghouse » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:25 pm

Noise gates are generally used to remove hiss and hum in between notes (like the high gain guitar example above).

They can be used for rhythmic effects if you trigger the gate with another signal....a way to tighten up phrases in horn sections for one example (one horn triggers gates for all the others) or gate sloppy bass lines with the kick drum.

Then there's the classic "gated reverb" drum sound that was all the rage in the 1980s...the drum triggers the gate on the reverb.

epiphanius
Posts: 221
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2002 10:32 pm

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by epiphanius » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:14 pm

I like using a gate expressively - changing the threshold over time with a drum loop, e.g. It sounds like Telefon Telaviv do this on their song "My Week Beats Your Year" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kXsvVMbbEE (warning: annoying vocals over great tune).

memes_33
Posts: 867
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:19 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by memes_33 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:36 pm

gates are fun! put one on a drum loop and eff around for a bit- it can turn a smooth loop into a jerky rhythm. its also a lot of fun to gate a synth with a drum sequence and shift the results around that drum sequence.

as far as using them to get rid of noise, i agree- using volume automation will give much better results as you can tailor each volume drop you need. gates (esp. analog gates) tend to "click" and "pop" because you are cutting off and/or introducing the audio when its not at its zero value. no bueno.

gates are also useful with mics in live settings. it can cut off feedback loops prematurely. i used to play trumpet in a weird prog-punk-jam band and put my trumpet through way pedals, distortion pedals, etc- i used a gate pedal before all of them so when i wasn't playing, the audio from the mic wasn't in the monitors.
Hip-Hop, Breakbeat, Glitch, IDM, Dub, & Mashups! Go to:
http://memes.bandcamp.com
http://www.soundcloud.com/memes_33

Joefro
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:34 am

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by Joefro » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:36 pm

Thanks for all the great ideas. I'm definitely going to play around with some rhythmic gates and see what I can do. I've just been zooming in and chopping out parts to make the same effect so far.

memes_33
Posts: 867
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 6:19 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Re: Whats the point of Noise Gates with a DAW like Ableton?

Post by memes_33 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:50 pm

here is a track i made years and years ago that uses gates- http://soundcloud.com/memes_33/jitterslug

the drum part is a drum loop through a gate, then i used that gated loop to gate a few synth parts, cut that up and moved the hits and synth parts around.
Hip-Hop, Breakbeat, Glitch, IDM, Dub, & Mashups! Go to:
http://memes.bandcamp.com
http://www.soundcloud.com/memes_33

Post Reply