Do you ever use a gate or expander plug-in? Do you know what they do? Do you know how COOL they are?

I use them mainly for voiceover. They can help take a fairly noisy environment and make it seem much quieter than it actually is. I use them on the HSC Podcast, for example. In this video I actually use a snippet of audio from the latest podcast to show you how a gate/expander works.

How do you use gates? Leave a comment! I’ll need 10 comments before the next post.

  • al-andrew

    I’ve been battling weeks to get my head around how to identify the use of an expander….sounds dumb I know but the simple way of saying “a gate is an extreme expander ” just helped the penny drop !! Thanks Joe !

    • Hahaha. I’ve had so many moments like that, whether it’s watching someone else’s video or getting feedback from a customer or subscriber. Sometimes just hearing someone describe something a little bit differently can make a big difference. Glad I could help, my friend.

  • GCue

    Joe, you are the man and you just made my production so much cleaner and tighter. Thanks Joe!

  • Thas has been really useful, and also really clearly explained. Congrats! But I’m still not sure if I get the difference between gating and expanding!

  • it’s the noise taker outer. coolio.

  • I always use gates on drums, not always on every mic, but I can’t remember of a single drum mix without gating of some sort. It can help to get a tight kit sound or simply manage leaks… also helps alot with keeping things clean and clear!


  • I use gates more for sound creation, I am a big fan of side chaining gates you can get some really fun stuff happening. Excuse the plug but I did a video on this not long ago:

  • WIlliam Buchanan

    Thanks Joe for that really good explanation of gates/expanders… that made a marked improvement in reducing the noise floor instead of using notch filters and various eq’s which actually did more harm than good. I’m applying this to V.O. tracks in my Final Cut Pro timeline… this and various other tips that you have provided indeed help across the board… including Video Editors as well. Thanks again for clueing me in on this extremely useful tool! Just so happens that my home set-up is “Rig of The Day” on the FINALCUTTERS website today. To have a look go to the URL below… click on Pix to expand.

    Buck5 Edit & Motion.

  • Man, gates are the essential tool of every home studio. If you’re tracking in the same room as your computer then a gate is your best friend. It’s the only way I can get a usable vocal track when I have to lay down vocals in my main room. I also used gating a ton on the drum tracks we did together down their in the dirty south. Had to clean them up, or northify them if you will. 🙂

  • John S.

    Another great tutorial Joe. Thanks for “expanding” my knowledge.

  • I use a gate on toms during the beginning stages of mixing. I usually go in and manually clean up the tom tracks later. I like to set up an over head mic pointing directly at the snare as high as I can get it. I’m trying to capture a little more of the body of the snare, but I don’t want to whole kit in it. I gate that mic and side chain the gate to the main snare mic so it gets a clean input. Nice way to fatten up a snare. Oh, I’ve also used a gate to keep my dog off the deck.

    • he he he…”keep my dog off the deck.”

  • Dave

    Yes, I use them on my Propellerhead Record program for vocals. Definitely keeps the noise down big time.

    • Especially when you slap a compressor on there and squash the vocal. Suddenly noise becomes an even bigger issue.

  • chrisw92

    nice video once again. Just in time too as im mixing a vocal monologue, I always wanted to know what an Expander did but never had the time to just sit down and figure it out.

    • It’ll be great for a vocal monologue. The key is to make sure it’s not obvious to the listener. When you’re done, it should just sound like the person is in a quiet booth.

  • Mark B.

    great stuff, thanks! let’s go see what reaper has for an expander….

  • I’m trying this on my drum mix tonight! I did some wacky editing and a number fades on my tom track a couple nights ago, wish I would have know this. So much to learn… Thanks for the tip Joe.

    • Yeah, it’s a nice, quick way to get rid of extra noise. Editing is certainly fine, too, but it can take up more time.

  • Once again thank you my friend for giving us the low down on expander/gate plug in… Never used one before but now that I have a better understanding on what it can be used for I can now add this to my arsenal. Thanks again Joe.