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Why does the noise gate affect gain?


StruckingFuggle
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I've used a lot of noise gates, and I just don't understand how the noise gate in Helix works.  Typically the a gate is either fully open, or fully closed.  You can adjust the threshold at which it opens and closes, and how fast it closes.

 

The noise gate on the multi input on Helix does not work like that.  Changing the threshold definitely affects the amount of gain hitting the signal chain.  
 

Am I the only one that hears this?  I know that gates will clip sustain, but the gate in Helix kills the tone like no gate I've ever used.  

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I'll bo honest with you, I have not tried the gate on Helix. The only explanation that would make sense would be that it is a soft knee gate, meaning it's not a "hard" gate but one that reduces gain. The "trickle" signal left to pass would certainly be weaker than the original signal, hitting the amp softer hence affecting gain. I'm just suggesting why this could be, however, I have not tried to replicate what you've heard.

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I don't notice any affect on gain with the hard gate, but the "Noise Gate" definitely softens things a little bit. But my old Boss NS-2 had the same effect. Gates are definitely one thing where I don't understand the desire for "realism" in the modeling...you've got a digital signal, so it should be easy to have open/closed without any other interference in the signal.

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Yes, I have noticed this as well. Good news is if you have a Variax you are less likely to need a gate at all. That said my PRS plugged into Helix

is very noisy and I really have to use the gate but when i do I seem to be trying to 'turn up' the volume knob on the guitar. Not sure what the solution is...

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I don't notice any affect on gain with the hard gate, but the "Noise Gate" definitely softens things a little bit. But my old Boss NS-2 had the same effect. Gates are definitely one thing where I don't understand the desire for "realism" in the modeling...you've got a digital signal, so it should be easy to have open/closed without any other interference in the signal.

 

Perhaps I'm not understanding you, but it seems to me you have the same inherent problem with gates whether they be digital or analog. That is trying block what is truly noise without affecting the inherent signal too much. I hardly ever use gates, personally, because I feel you always sacrifice something when using them. I do have a few heavy tones where I use the hard gate, though.

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Perhaps I'm not understanding you, but it seems to me you have the same inherent problem with gates whether they be digital or analog. That is trying block what is truly noise without affecting the inherent signal too much. I hardly ever use gates, personally, because I feel you always sacrifice something when using them. I do have a few heavy tones where I use the hard gate, though.

My NS-2 and the regular Noise Gate in Helix both seem to pull back a little of the high end whether you're above or below the threshold, which I think is just a symptom of a "noise" gate which behave differently than the hard gate. The Noise gate can be heard lowering the level of the "hiss" in high-gain patches before it cuts out completely, where as the hard gate, to me, sounds the same when its open and when its off completely. The NS-2 behaved the same way, however the Rocktron Hush and MXR SmartGate I've also used behaved more like the hard gate.

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Thanks for the replies. I didn't realize that Helix had both a noise gate and a hard gate. The hard gate behaves as I would expect. I can place that at the end of my chain, and it does what I need.

 

I had been using the noise gate on the input block, whcixh does kind of work, but affects the time in ways I wasn't expecting.

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The only real issue I have with Helix is that the high gain sounds are so noisy, actually worse than most high gain tube amps that I've known. I've never liked noise gates; always avoided them... and now I need to use one. The Helix one is okay but not great; it still messes with the sustain and makes that noise when your palm touches the strings. I'm tempted to get one of these, any of you peeps have any experience with one?

 

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I haven't found the Helix high gain models to be any noisier than their counterparts. Have you had a 100 watt rectifier being fed by a ts808 at high volumes?

 

I've just trained myself over years of performing live to step into a clean channel when the song ends. I've had a lot of gates, and some have worked great for certain applications. Decimator makes great stuff.

 

If you've run out of DSP, then maybe I could see using an external gate, but with the options available in Helix, and the ability to step to a lower gain patch easily, I can't see using one.

 

But I have a TC Electronic Sentry for sale, if you're interested. :)

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I had the G-String II, super great gate. I can get pretty much the same function with two hard gates. 

 

I tried the Helix's hard gate and it sounded so bad initially that I didn't have the patience to mess with it. It was chopping off the front of notes. Would you be kind enough to share how you set those gates and where you put them in the chain?

 

I haven't found the Helix high gain models to be any noisier than their counterparts. Have you had a 100 watt rectifier being fed by a ts808 at high volumes?

 

I've just trained myself over years of performing live to step into a clean channel when the song ends.

 

Actually I use a rented Mesa Triple Recto half stack with the band I tour with and I put a (Line 6 M13 model of a) Tube Screamer in front to smooth out the mids. Yeah, they're noisy and some are worse than others (though I've found the newest ones to be reasonably quiet), but I swear, my high gain Helix patches are noisier. My problem isn't the noise when I'm not playing; I've learned to go to the clean channel the split second that I'm done with the high gain channel (at our soundman's urging). It's the sound of the gate while I'm playing; the way it kills notes that would sustain if it wasn't engaged. I'm not a gain maniac, but I want enough to be able to get some sustain and be able to feedback when I want it too. 

 

Any help with successful use of the Helix gates would be much appreciated!

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I tried the Helix's hard gate and it sounded so bad initially that I didn't have the patience to mess with it. It was chopping off the front of notes. Would you be kind enough to share how you set those gates and where you put them in the chain?

 

 

Actually I use a rented Mesa Triple Recto half stack with the band I tour with and I put a (Line 6 M13 model of a) Tube Screamer in front to smooth out the mids. Yeah, they're noisy and some are worse than others (though I've found the newest ones to be reasonably quiet), but I swear, my high gain Helix patches are noisier. My problem isn't the noise when I'm not playing; I've learned to go to the clean channel the split second that I'm done with the high gain channel (at our soundman's urging). It's the sound of the gate while I'm playing; the way it kills notes that would sustain if it wasn't engaged. I'm not a gain maniac, but I want enough to be able to get some sustain and be able to feedback when I want it too. 

 

Any help with successful use of the Helix gates would be much appreciated!

 

You could assign a footswitch to bypass the gate during the song.  When I was using my pedals and loop switch I actually had the gate input/output on a loop. I would switch it out when I didn't want it mucking up my tone, and in when I needed it to squash noise.  It's always a fine line, and sometimes not worth the effort.   Just like using analog, I try to clean up the signal and gain structure as much as a I can before applying gate.   They are always a compromise.  If you have a single patch, with a single guitar, you may be able to fine tune it.  But with guitar changes, venue changes, volume changes, patch editing on the fly, seems like I'm always fighting either stutter or tone suck due to the gate.  With Helix I just won't use the input "noise gate".  I am using the hard gate as a block on some of my high gain patches, just to shut up the hiss if I'm away from the pedal for a few seconds at the end of a song.  

 

It's something I notice a lot when I'm dialing in patches by myself, but in a live environment playing with a full band in a loud venue with a crowd, not so much.  

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Just like using analog, I try to clean up the signal and gain structure as much as a I can before applying gate.   They are always a compromise.  If you have a single patch, with a single guitar, you may be able to fine tune it.  But with guitar changes, venue changes, volume changes, patch editing on the fly, seems like I'm always fighting either stutter or tone suck due to the gate.  With Helix I just won't use the input "noise gate".  I am using the hard gate as a block on some of my high gain patches, just to shut up the hiss if I'm away from the pedal for a few seconds at the end of a song.  

 

It's something I notice a lot when I'm dialing in patches by myself, but in a live environment playing with a full band in a loud venue with a crowd, not so much.  

 

You're right about the difference between playing by yourself and playing with a band; I tend to forget about that when I'm by myself, tweaking. Still, I hate hearing any of that white noise, particularly when I'm improvising a solo. I tend to subconsciously avoid using rests and play non-stop strings of notes. I don't even hold notes long because of that sound of the gate killing it's sustain.

 

In that Decimator II G String video, it sounds like it doesn't suck the sustain or the tone. I guess I need to try one. The extra loops in Helix would accommodate the way the Decimator needs to be hooked up nicely.

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I tried the Helix's hard gate and it sounded so bad initially that I didn't have the patience to mess with it. It was chopping off the front of notes. Would you be kind enough to share how you set those gates and where you put them in the chain?

 

I use one immediately at the input and I set it so it JUST cuts the hiss at its on point, with the open and close settings about the same, then set one after any comp/OD BEFORE the amp model with slightly higher dB levels. I've never really had an issue with it chopping off the beginnings of notes or with (reasonable) sustain. If I want to let a sound sustain into feedback, I have my gates on a switch and I turn them off. I'm probably on the low end of "high gain" for clarity's sake (I run the gain in my ENGL patch at 3 on the amp with a boost out front), but it works well with my guitars (all have high output passives or EMGs). I never have a gate on on my clean channels or low OD patches where I would need more dynamics.

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I use one immediately at the input and I set it so it JUST cuts the hiss at its on point, with the open and close settings about the same, then set one after any comp/OD BEFORE the amp model with slightly higher dB levels. I've never really had an issue with it chopping off the beginnings of notes or with (reasonable) sustain. If I want to let a sound sustain into feedback, I have my gates on a switch and I turn them off. I'm probably on the low end of "high gain" for clarity's sake (I run the gain in my ENGL patch at 3 on the amp with a boost out front), but it works well with my guitars (all have high output passives or EMGs). I never have a gate on on my clean channels or low OD patches where I would need more dynamics.

 

Well thanks for sharing! I guess I just need to do some more experimenting.

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