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Noise Gate - Anyone else find it really impacts the tone?

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Although mostly a "vintage tone" guy, I've got a few patches that I have tried using a bit more gain - amps, pedals, or both - and being a Tele and LP w/ P90s player, primarily I find the noise pretty high on stage when not playing.  Prime for a noise gate.  

 

However, I can't quite get the noise gate to do it's job without REALLY making my tone sound weird.  It seems to be "fighting" my overall signal and not in a smooth way.  

 

Anyone else have this issue or is it just that i'm not familiar with how and where to set these to have the least impact while still reducing the noise??

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I use the gate on quite a few presets and I can honestly say that I don't have this problem.

Do  you use the gate as a block, or are you using the one "built into" the input?  I ask because for the first couple weeks I was using a block gate that I added not realizing there was one available already at the input.

I also set my gate with the guitar volume rolled all the way down. I ride my volume control, when I'm not playing my volume is down. With the gate set this way, there is still a little bit of noise if the guitars volume is wide open, definitely not as much with no gate. 

I also use snapshots and set the gates threshold control to snapshot. This way I can set the threshold per snapshot. My clean snapshots are usually fairly noise free, so the threshold is dialed way back.

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Sounds like you might need to adjust the open and close dB cutoffs, especially if you are getting 'stutter' as notes decay.

 

But for a quick fix, get rid of the noise gate block and instead use the Input Gate in the Guitar Input block. It works and it doesn't mess up your tone.

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I've tried both the block and the input gate one and they both seem to choke the tone a bit.   Any hints on setting the threshold and decay on the block one?

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Yes the noise gates do in fact alter the tone!

 

Doesn't matter if it is at the input, or done through a dedicated block in the Helix.

 

 

I have gotten to the point where I just don't use it. Though I am not a LIVE player.  I found if I need a good gate I will run the dry guitar through Fabfilter's Pro-G plugin, before it hits Helix Native.

 

Oh, and I do plenty of high gain as well.

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An alternative to the noise gate if you are just wanting to hush the hiss in between songs: put a volume block at the end of your signal chain and just control it with an expression pedal. It's pretty much the same thing, just a manually controlled gate. 

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Noise gates pretty much always alter the tone in some way, which is why I hardly ever use them. It's just the nature of the beast. In some styles of music, like the real djent-y stuff, people kind of want that effect, but in others, they aren't worth the hassle.

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 I don't think I have any true single coils at the moment (looks like I just justified getting a new guitar).  So checking my own settings, the threshold is usually -65db and the decay is almost always 10ms.  Some people think its more natural sounding with higher decay settings, but I want the gate to release as fast as possible.

 

This is usually just on the input block gate.  I only have 2 patches that use a dedicated gate block.

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I find just the opposite....pretty transparent. In the past i have issues with various gates in the loop of my EVH or Randall amps and they definitely affected tone. I am using the one built into the chain (input block) and not adding an separate effect block maybe that is part of the problem you are experiencing?

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I find that both of them (input block AND the specific block) cause the very early lead-in to a note and especially the sustain/decay of notes to seem "choked"... in extreme settings it even has a little of the "Stutter" effect in the trail-off.  Doesn't make a huge impact on the actual bloom of the notes, but the overall feel is hard to overcome for me.    I prefer to use the individual block, because I like to not have a noise gate on my lower-gain and clean snapshots, but for the one or two heavier gain snapshots, I need to quite the hiss between songs / notes / chords.  

 

Hard to describe or to capture on a sound clip, but it's noticeable if you put a block in, play some riffs, then bypass that block and play the same thing again.  Definitely some choke/stutter with the block on during the gaps between notes/chords.    

 

FYI...  My "heavier gain" is NOT 'high-gain' as many of you think of it... it's a heavy classic-rock overdriven tone... think 70s/80s rock stuff.  That's as heavy as I get.  But it is very noisy using a P90 Les Paul.

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Not your main point, but you can turn the input block gate on and off per snapshot, or with a gain-inducing block footswitch.

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For me, automatic noise gates work best when the guitar has quiet/noiseless pickups in it. That way the thresholds can be set low enough that the gate cuts in when there is only non-string related noise coming out of the guitar.

 

Automatic noise gates never work for me to quieten down a single coil (or noisy humbucker) that is humming/buzzing away in the background. Usually that noise is at the same level or greater than the trail out volume of the note or chord. Then the gate thresholds need to be set high enough that it affects the note trail out or when playing softer passages.

 

There are many solutions to noisy pickups, but IMO, a noise gate is on the bottom of that list. The EHX Hum Debugger is a pedal that filters out the 50/60Hz hum, and it wasn't too bad when I tried it years ago, but it added a bit of a metallic ringing to the sound.

 

My solution these days is to get quiet pickups for the guitar. The Zexcoil offerings are my current favourite for Strat single coils. I used a Tom Anderson guitar with his PQ series pickups (quiet P90s) and they sounded as good as any standard P90 that I've tried. Active EMGs are really quiet too, even their ones aimed at vintage style tone. Proper shielding and grounding helps too.

 

I only enable the noise gate block in the Helix for high gain chugging, and set the threshold high enough to give it that silent mute effect. This is definitely not a setting I'd ever use for normal clean or crunch tones.

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If a volume pedal at the end of the chain is good enough for Mr Petrucci, it's good enough for me.  I can never get along with noise gates (Helix or analog).  But yes, I've found that the Helix gate has tone suck.

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Hmmm, don't know what's wrong w me, but though I've objected to gates in the past, I typically have the input block gate on for all but my clean snapshots, and it's not bothering me. No explanation, just the facts. Ma'am.

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 I typically have the input block gate on for all but my clean snapshots, and it's not bothering me. 

I think that is why. The high gain crowd are using hot pickups which brings up the baseline noise quite a bit. The baseline noise is what is messing with the gate on how it opens/closes. That can have ill effects on the perceived tone. 

 

If running clean with low output pickups, then the gate operates normally. No "tone sucking" artifacts happen. 

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Hmmm, don't know what's wrong w me, but though I've objected to gates in the past, I typically have the input block gate on for all but my clean snapshots, and it's not bothering me. No explanation, just the facts. Ma'am.

 

 

I think that is why. The high gain crowd are using hot pickups which brings up the baseline noise quite a bit. The baseline noise is what is messing with the gate on how it opens/closes. That can have ill effects on the perceived tone. 

 

If running clean with low output pickups, then the gate operates normally. No "tone sucking" artifacts happen. 

 

 

Yes to this. I'm in the same boat - low-wind PAF clones on main guitar and I find the input block noise gate to be pretty transparent (and pretty useful as my main guitar isn't very well shielded and contributes a fair bit of buzz). I can see why others might not have the same user experience as I do if they are playing through hot pickups.

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I am using a LP Jr with P90s (not many good "noiseless" alternatives out there for these...  the "noiseless" versions don't sound like P90s for the most part) and a Telecaster. Not really any "hot" pickups... and I find that with Clean or Crunch presets or snapshots, I don't need the noise gate at all... it's simply not noisy enough to warrant it, and if I have one, I can generally set the threshold and decay to the level that it doesn't impact the tone...

 

But for any of my Plexi or JCM or JT45 or even an AC30 with pedals in front that gets me to "Bad Company", "Foreigner", "Grand Funk Railroad", "Ted Nugent", "Deep Purple", "Aerosmith", etc... type gainy-ish tones, the noise between notes/songs/chords is just excessive with the P90s (less so with the Tele, but still there)... and I can't get either noise gate to the point that it's quite enough without it impacting the trailing parts of notes or the sustain.   

 

Of course, if you're playing "clean" or "not-so-much-gain" or using Noiseless Pickups - this shouldn't be an issues anyway, right? My humbucker guitars don't have an issue... but I get certain tones with my P90s that I don't want to live without, so it appears that I'm faced with just putting up with the noise, learning to use a volume pedal (never had to before) or putting up with the stutter / choppy decay that the gate imposes.

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...  I prefer to use the individual block, because I like to not have a noise gate on my lower-gain and clean snapshots, but for the one or two heavier gain snapshots, I need to quite the hiss between songs / notes / chords.  

 

...

Hard to describe or to capture on a sound clip, but it's noticeable if you put a block in, play some riffs, then bypass that block and play the same thing again. Definitely some choke/stutter with the block on during the gaps between notes/chords.

...

 

Agree, I use the same strategy and like to keep the noise gate from engaging whenever possible on quieter or cleaner settings that don't require it. You don't have to use an individual noise gate block though and bypass the noise gate. Instead of bypassing it, the 'Threshold' parameter on the noise gate on the Input block can be assigned to a snapshot. I just dial the 'Threshold' way back or to the point where it never engages for the snapshots that don't require it. Saves me a block I can use for something else and I would not be surprised if it saves a small bit of DSP as well versus using a separate noise gate block. 

 

This also has the advantage of making the 'Threshold' adjustable for the different snapshots. The heavier and noisier the snapshot the more sensitive I set the 'Threshold'. The per snapshot customized threshold helps prevent the choking or stuttering effect you mentioned. You can use the same approach on the separate 'Noise Gate' block but since there is a gate already integrated into the Input block I tend to use that one unless I require a noise gate further downstream.

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I only use clean to mid-gain, so maybe that's why I find no real problem with the noise gate myself.

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I appreciate all the responses. I'm learning new things all the time with the Helix.  So, for my own knowledge (I've never really used noise gates before), it's my understanding that a Noise Gate is similar to a compressor, but in reverse?  It only damps (or cuts) things that are below a certain level - and that's controlled by the "threshold" setting.  

 

I'm trying to understand the 'Decay' setting.  I know it's like a "release" control that's on some gate pedals, but I don't quite grasp what different settings do in relation to the sound.  If it's strictly Threshold (level), there shouldn't be any kind of chop or stutter... so I suspect that the things I'm hearing that I don't like are really due to my "Decay" settings.  If I understand it better, I could probably find settings that work for me.

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The 'Decay' setting determines how fast or slow the gate closes. If it closes fast, you get a sudden 'stop' and if you set the decay to a longer time, it fades out more gradually. If you get a lot of stutter, increasing the decay might help.

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I appreciate all the responses. I'm learning new things all the time with the Helix.  So, for my own knowledge (I've never really used noise gates before), it's my understanding that a Noise Gate is similar to a compressor, but in reverse?  It only damps (or cuts) things that are below a certain level - and that's controlled by the "threshold" setting.  

 

I'm trying to understand the 'Decay' setting.  I know it's like a "release" control that's on some gate pedals, but I don't quite grasp what different settings do in relation to the sound.  If it's strictly Threshold (level), there shouldn't be any kind of chop or stutter... so I suspect that the things I'm hearing that I don't like are really due to my "Decay" settings.  If I understand it better, I could probably find settings that work for me.

 

 

Originally written for the HD500 but afaik applies equally to the HX noise gate / hard gate - MeAmBobbo's Tone Guide provides a decent explainer. Hope this helps.

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I agree with the snapshot settings as stated above, the other thing that I do is if I feel it's going to be a noisy patch, I turn it on and design my patch around it, as opposed to designing my patch and then turning it on and hearing a difference

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If you want a superb noise gate that does not alter your tone and also preserves your sustain....buy an ISP Decimator ProRack G....they are not cheap but they are the best i have used...i have one connected to my Mesa Rectifier preamp and my ENGL E530 preamp....they have 2 channels with filter tracking control that allows you to dial in just the right amount of noise filtering for your guitar pickups( really nice for single coils) and your amp....it is very impressive.....my ENGL is whisper quite....if you have ever played an ENGL amp you know that is quite a feat without affecting the tone....they are very noisy but sound awesome....this makes them perfect....same for any high gain amp.

 

I have Fabfilter Pro G as well...mentioned in this thread for DAW systems....that is a good choice but not as good for guitar as the ISP system...it is really nice for acoustic guitar mic recording though...i have used Pro G for my classical and steel string recordings....very nice.

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As a new HX Effects owner, I'm curious about the "input" noise gate that's mentioned in this thread. I haven't seen that as an option in HX Effects. Anyone know if this exists in HX Effects?

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On 2/11/2018 at 9:29 AM, Jose_Chasez said:

As a new HX Effects owner, I'm curious about the "input" noise gate that's mentioned in this thread. I haven't seen that as an option in HX Effects. Anyone know if this exists in HX Effects?

I'm super late to the party, but yes, it does have a noise gate.

 

For everyone else - What would the cabling look like if I wanted to use a Boss NS-2 in conjunction with my HX effects?  I'm currently using the 4CM.  I'm not sure where to put my Boss Noise Suppressor pedal.

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I use the noise gate on the input block for medium to high gain patches only. Gates will always impact the tone and sustain, but I've found the one in Helix to be more transparent than any other gates I've ever used. I set the threshold low enough to where there's still a little bit of hum. It's a compromise, but I'd rather have a small amount of noise than lose the sustain. Some venues are worse than others, especially if the stage outlets are on the same circuit as the lights. In those cases, I'll set the threshold a little higher out of necessity.

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9 minutes ago, erniedenov said:

Some venues are worse than others, especially if the stage outlets are on the same circuit as the lights. In those cases, I'll set the threshold a little higher out of necessity.

 

Indeed... with single coils and a bunch of neon "Bud Light" signs, if you don't have a noise gate you might as well be trying to drown out a jackhammer.

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1 hour ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

Indeed... with single coils and a bunch of neon "Bud Light" signs, if you don't have a noise gate you might as well be trying to drown out a jackhammer.

 

My Suhr Strat uses the Suhr Silent Single Coil System. It works remarkably well; the only "noiseless" single coil solution I've heard that doesn't mess with that classic single coil sound. You can put it in any guitar that uses two single coil pickups.

 

 

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