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Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

What is production? Part 4: Mixing

The importance of monitoring in the recording studio

Is your audio interface fast enough?

Recording a cymbal from different mic positions (with audio)

Why choosing a key for your song is one of the most important aspects of preparation for production and recording

Does inverting the phase of one channel of a stereo signal always sound bad?

The difference between minimum-phase and linear-phase EQ on transient signals such as snare drum

Today you can buy microphones that were used to record Nirvana's 'In Utero'

A brief introduction to acoustic treatment

How to double track easily and efficiently

Hands On - Drawmer DS 201 Dual Gate (part 5)

You may find that the bass drum you recorded didn’t 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...

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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 didn’t 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 console’s oscillator, your Akai S1000 or synthesiser - and patch it to the gate’s 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. You’ll want to experiment with the frequency of the sine wave (don’t blow your speakers!) and with the attack, hold and decay of the gate so that the addition of the sine wave isn’t obvious.

Another related use of external triggering via the key input is making particular parts start and finish at the same time. It’s 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 won’t 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, let’s 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 don’t 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 gate’s 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 don’t 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.

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By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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