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Thread: Use of Gates

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    Use of Gates

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    Hi folks,

    I have a fairly quiet singing voice, and I am having trouble with bursts of hiss that seem to be captured when I record vocals. I am trying to figure out how Gates work because what I am reading doesn't marry up with what I hear when I try to use them in practice.

    I'm recording using a Line 6 XD-V75 mic, which was plugged straight into an A&H QU16, but now I have it going into a Tascam TA-1VP first. I'm recirding into Cubase, and the process I use is to record the vocal dry, cut out larger areas of silence, edit the remainder in Wavelab (normalise and a gate preset which removes some hiss), I then import the output back into Cubase.

    I think the vocals sound ok, but are not as good as they could be, mainly due to the hiss that I can hear, not before or after my vocal phrases strangely, but only *while* I am singing! I thought the Gate would remove all noise below a certain dB level, but to me it seems that a Gate works in a way that it is either open or closed, but it doesn't appear to filter out noise beneath a certain dB, unless I have it configurted incorrectly?

    I first noticed the problem on the QU16 with the Gate settings as follows: Threshold - 20dB, Depth 20dB, Attack 106 (microseconds?)m Hold 184ms, Release 69.6ms.

    I was considering using the Gate on the TA-1VP at a much lower level, say -80db, 99:1 to see if that would cut the noise out.

    I'm also using some Compression with a gain setting (Threhold +5db) - could that be boosing the hiss?

    Thanks in advance.
    Anthony.
    Last edited by Ante74; 09-17-2020 at 07:42. Reason: Adding thanks

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    That is what a gate does. It is either open or shut. If you are singing, the level is above the gate threshold and it opens, when you stop singing, the level drops below the threshold and the gate closes.

    It sounds like you may have a gain staging problem (having the compressor threshold at +5 is a clue that the gain might be too high)

    You should first turn off the compressor and gate, then set the gain on the interface so that a sustained note sits at about -18db on cubase meters.

    Now, add the compressor. Set it so that as you are singing, you get 3-4 db of reduction.

    There is no need to do any normalizing. Record everything so that sustained notes and chords sit around the -18db point on cubase. Drums should peak around -6db. This will leave enough headroom to mix.

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    ^^^*1, Too much preamp gain more likely.
    Win 7 Ult Dell i7 4core 6700ghz 32 GB, 1,2x2, 4 Tb Barracuda HD's running Pro tools 2019 through Allen&Heath Qu-32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Farview View Post
    That is what a gate does. It is either open or shut. If you are singing, the level is above the gate threshold and it opens, when you stop singing, the level drops below the threshold and the gate closes.

    It sounds like you may have a gain staging problem (having the compressor threshold at +5 is a clue that the gain might be too high)

    You should first turn off the compressor and gate, then set the gain on the interface so that a sustained note sits at about -18db on cubase meters.

    Now, add the compressor. Set it so that as you are singing, you get 3-4 db of reduction.

    There is no need to do any normalizing. Record everything so that sustained notes and chords sit around the -18db point on cubase. Drums should peak around -6db. This will leave enough headroom to mix.
    Thanks Farview, I will work through your suggestions at the weekend and report back. As I posted and was thinking it through I thought that the gain on the compression might be the issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gtoboy View Post
    ^^^*1, Too much preamp gain more likely.
    Thanks Gtoboy, this is a good point. My vocals were coming through so quietly I did boost the pre-amp gain, so I will back off on that in addition to looking into the suggestions Farview has made.

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    Alright, I just looked up all your equipment. I didn't realize the mic was wireless. I can't find anything that tells me if the mic receiver puts out mic level or line level signal. If you are plugging a line level signal into a mic input, that could cause hiss. Try plugging the receiver into the line input of the tascam.

    First, the Tascam puts out a line level signal and should be plugged into a line level input on the mixer (assuming you are using the mixer as the interface to the computer.) Plugging this into a mic input will cause gain staging problems.

    If none of these thing work, Start simple.

    1. Plug the mic receiver into the mic input of the mixer, turn up the channel gain until you are hitting about half way up the meter, and listen on headphones. Is the hiss there? If yes, it's the microphone. If no, move on.

    2. Plug the mic receiver into the mic input on the tascam. Plug the line output of the tascam into the line input of the mixer. Bypass all the effects in the tascam. Listen on headphones. Is the hiss there? If yes, it's the tascam. If no, move on.

    3. Start turning on the effects in the tascam one at a time, until you hear the hiss. Please note any changes in volume as you turn the effects on and off. Those changes could be a clue as to where any gain staging issues are.

    Hopefully that will narrow down the cause of the hiss.
    Jay Walsh
    Farview Recording. I am also the forum spokesmodel for Terasyne Amplification

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    Can I just throw out there that I have never used or found a need to use a gate? I really have never really understood why I would use a software to take out quiet parts. Especially when recorded well, some of those breaths and such are part of the emotion. If there is audible levels of noise that would need removal, there is likely a bigger problem that should be dealt with before editing.

    I see you guys are approaching the problem and not the fix. Props!
    PC Win7-64-24G i7-4790k/Cubase 10 Pro 64-bit/2-Steinberg UR824's/ADAM A7x/Event TR8/SS Trigger Plat Deluxe/Melodyne 4 Studio/Other things that don't mean anything if a client shows up not knowing what it wants.

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    Hi all,

    Thanks for your input on this. I think Farview's advice was most helpful.

    First I turned off the compressor on the mic input channel/record channel on the desk but enabled compression instead on the playback channel (I have my configured this way so I can hear pre-recorded vocals while I am singing), the his begain to reduce. I think the gain on the compressor was casuing an issue at recording stage.

    I boosted the output gain on the XD-V75.

    My Mic is wired from the XD-V75 into the TA-1VP, I actually had to boost input and output gain on that, and use the gate on that unit rather than the desk. The threshold of the gate is at -75dB and the ratio is 1:6.0 I'm not sure what the .0 is in this case?

    Finally on the desk I reduced the faders to 0/unity and turned down the input gain by 10 or 20 dB I think.

    The result is much better, and requires less processing of the vocal afterwards, this hiss that was coming in when the gate was open is now significantly reduced.

    Many thanks.
    Last edited by Ante74; 09-22-2020 at 12:29. Reason: punctuation

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    my thoughts

    I rarely use gates except for Drums... occasionally...
    In addition to using proper gain staging, you can...try... to eliminate room born noise as much as your knowledge and wallet can afford, but third place you also consider is getting some decent noise reduction plug ins.

    I use Izotope.

    It is not a silver bullet, but properly used it removes broadband background noise even DURING the vocal performance.
    Be aware it be overused and make everything horrid, but that is true with most audio tools.
    Tom Menikos
    T-Mix Studios
    Mansfield Texas
    WWW.tmixstudio.com

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