Noise Gates

Duration: 22 minutes

Featuring: Alan Parsons, with John Fields, Tim Pierce

In this section Alan discovers the invention (and inventor) and development of the noise gate and examine both its original purpose and eventual role in sound recording. A range of gate applications are set up and explained, including changing sound envelopes, creating our own gated reverbs, side-chaining, and more. Both hardware and software gates are featured in this section, along with explanations of their relative merits.

Noise gates were initially created in order to cure the problem that their name suggests, i.e. to gate out (or get rid of) undesirable noise on a recording. The need for noise gates arose from the build up of tape noise that was the result of more and more ‘tracks’ becoming available on various forms of analog tape systems.

Interestingly, this relatively simple piece of circuitry has gone on to enjoy a life well beyond that afforded by its originally purpose. Noise gates have become perpetrators of ‘studio effects,’ they can be used as creative, sound-twisting processors; they can be used as performance (timing) problem-solvers.

Alan first looks at the controls of a typical gate and explains not only the individual functions but also how the parameters interact. The section goes on to reveal some of the many ways a noise gate still fits into the current recording picture.

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