Hands On - Drawmer DS 201 Dual Gate (part 5)
Further flights of fancy
Staying with my non-MIDI example of a multitrack recording for the moment, you may find that the bass drum you recorded didnt really have the depth of sound and produce the degree of satisfaction you were looking for. You could by other means replace the bass drum with a triggered sample, but then you would lose the natural sound and the subtlety of real drumming (and even after all these years of MIDI, good drummers are still worth their weight in gold). Another solution is to find a low frequency sine wave from somewhere - from the consoles oscillator, your Akai S1000 or synthesiser - and patch it to the gates input. Route the real bass drum to the key input while still including it in the mix and carry out the external triggering procedure as before. Now you will get the bass drum and you will also have a low frequency pulse to mix in to provide all the beef you need. Youll want to experiment with the frequency of the sine wave (dont blow your speakers!) and with the attack, hold and decay of the gate so that the addition of the sine wave isnt obvious.
Another related use of external triggering via the key input is making particular parts start and finish at the same time. Its common with backing vocals, once you start layering them up, that the starts and ends of the lines can get a bit messy. Maybe mostly they were OK, but some start a fraction early, some end a fraction late. To deal with this, mix the whole lot onto a subgroup (or two for stereo) and send it through the gate. Use the backing vocal with the best timing as the trigger for the gate and you will find that the whole thing has tightened up considerably. This technique wont do anything for discrepancies in timing during the line, but the start and finish are really the most important things to get right.
Just to finish off with, and there are a whole host of tricks you can get up to with the DS 201 if you put your mind to work, lets take a look at that good old standby - gated reverb. Of course we always use the gated reverb preset on our trusty multi-effects units dont we? But, you know, sometimes the traditional ways can be the best. The easy way to produce real gated reverb would be to apply the signal plus reverb to the gates input and use internal triggering, ignoring the key input. With the DS 201 however, this limits the settings of the hold control you can use since you will sometimes get jitter. The better way is to feed the dry signal to the key input and the dry signal plus reverb - or even the reverb only - to the normal input. This way you get full control over the gating and you can get a very wide range of reverb envelopes, which you normally dont get with multi-effects units. Also, surprise surprise, you can use this technique with real reverb - if your bathroom is big enough.
In conclusion, there is a wonderful world of sounds available to the person willing to experiment with noise gates. A Drawmer DS 201 is sitting waiting in a studio near you right now - go and see what you can do with it.