Working in the domain of audio, we can sometimes get a lot of useless and unpleasing sounds such as hissing, humming, clicking, and general unwanted elements. Luckily you won’t be the first person experiencing this, with the help of a noise gate/expander we can eliminate a lot of these unwanted sounds through an easy process.
With a wide range of noise gate/expander plugins in the market, each possessing its own unique features, many people face a hard time in selecting the most suitable gate/expander for their particular needs.
So in this article, we will be reviewing 10 of the most efficient and popular plugins. In addition to that, we added a list of the top free noise gate plugins as a bonus down below!
What Does Noise Gate Do?
A noise gate is a type of effect you can add to your channel strip. The gate will affect the sound by completely eliminating the sound below or above a certain threshold, depends on your parameter settings.
Here are the main parameters you would use to effect the noise gate and operate it to your liking.
The Threshold is the control for which level the gate will affect your signal.
Attack, is the time taken for the gate to open.
The Release refers to how long the gate will take to fade out.
Hold is how long the gate will be open for and hold its state.
Range will set how much the signal is reduced when the gate is closed.
Difference Between A Gate And An Expander?
Gate & Expander are very similar but they have a subtle difference.
Gate – Cuts out unwanted signal completely
Expander – Compresses unwanted signal to make it less prominent
Noise gate short history:
1969 – Gating technique developed, and adopted by The Beatles.
1980 – Gating technique implemented in real-time electronics in a few audiophile, high fidelity record players.
1990 – Used vigorously in music production and sound engineering.
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Where Do You Place A Noise Gate?
You might be debating where to use your noise gate?
Well, typically the rule of thumb is you wouldn’t want to use a noise gate during recording as you won’t be able to obtain any of the audio data lost at later a date.
So to avoid this we recommend applying this effect after you have recorded your audio. It is also a good idea to have in mind what you want to affect with the gate. For example, you may have a drum break which has a really tight kick and snare but you’re not a fan of the hi-hats. Now you know what you want to achieve so you can tweak the gate to your desired needs.
There are many applications for a noise gate, some offering sidechain features, and others allowing you to invert the signal. This effect can be used in a million different ways.
Why Should I Use The Noise Gate/ Expander Plugin?
If you are involved in music production these tools can be your savior for precisely removing unwanted elements of the sounds. You may also find yourself using it in many creative ways, such as a sidechain trigger.
10 Best Noise Gate/Expander VST, AU, AAX Plugins 2020
10. Unfiltered Audio G8 Review
G8 Dynamic Gate is a multipurpose gate that all producers and audio engineers should adopt. ‘Cycle’ mode will allow you to use it as a stutter effect, AM/Granular effect, or a tremolo. Wet/Dry mix gives the user full control over the amount of the signal being output by Dynamic Gate. ‘One-shot’ mode allows users to have in-depth transient shaping which, can be used to shape the signal sound.
You can also combine it with a MIDI trigger or audio channel to trigger it with G8.
With the new edition of ‘dark’ skin for G8, it blends in perfectly with your DAW and offers enough options to keep your gating needs at bay.
- Cycle mode which keeps repeating the gate envelope endlessly as long as the gate is open. The speed of this repetition is determined by the envelope and the delay controls
- One-shot mode that triggers one full cycle of the envelope as soon as the incoming signal surpasses the threshold
- Reject Outputs feature is probably the best feature for this plugin. Instead of throwing rejected G8’s (or gated out), it sends the signal to an auxiliary output which in turns routes it to another channel in the DAW for the user to edit its panning, leveling and just process it differently which can be extremely useful as it prevents signal loss
- Flip button which can be used to swap gated and rejected signals
Unfiltered Audio G8 works on Windows 7 or higher for PC and OSX 10.9 or higher for Mac. It only supports 64 bits version and comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX versions. This plugin comes at a price of $49 from its official website.
9. Sonalksis SV 719 Gate Review
Sonalksis SV 719 Gate isn’t so well known but it’s a powerful gate/expander plugin that definitely should be on this list.
There are three modes in this plugin, which are: ‘Duck’, ‘Gate’, and ‘Expand’ each offering a different algorithmic process. Additionally, the SV 719 includes a filter capable of low, mid, and high band filtering.
With a built-in output gain, the levels are easily movable. Moreover, the intuitive A/B switch will allow the user to quickly switch between to gating/expanding or ducking ideas.
Giving this all in a compact and beautiful GUI Sonalksis has really created an all-rounded gate/expander plugin that makes a difference to your channels.
- Modeled after an actual analog processor which can make drums have that gated effect and many more
- Expansion mode allows the track to have noise reduction for difficult noise like background interferences and slight noises
- The ducking mode can reduce the impact of the effect in the presence of vocals or when the mix gets busy. This helps reduce cloudiness or muddiness that tends to happen a lot when using noise gates. This is done with the help of an external side-chain that the plugin is equipped with
This plugin requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OSX 10.9 or higher for Mac. This plugin only comes in VST/AU versions which makes it not compatible with Pro Tools. It has support for both 32 and 64-bit devices. Sonalksis SV 719 Gate costs $110 from the Sonalksis website.
8. kiloHearts Gate Review
kiloHearts Gate is a simple to use but extremely effective gate when used in practice.
This Gate offers a quick way to cut out a low hum or noise within the signal. Sidechain, look ahead, and the ever-helpful flip feature gives Kilohertz Gate effective simplicity.
Simple selection of controls such as an attack, hold, release, and threshold. But Kilohertz Gate doesn’t offer anything more than what it says on the tin, you can use it in series with the other kilohertz plugin collections but as a stand-alone gate, this is a top contender.
- Look ahead feature which has a 5ms headstart to the plugin, allowing it to anticipate transients and attack them accordingly
- A tolerance knob which is used to set a point where the gate will close if the signals drop below that
- Sidechain which allows the user to set a ducking effect which de-emphasizes the noise gate when the track gets busy to avoid muddiness and cloudiness of the mix
- kiloHearts Gate’s interface is a resizable one which makes it convenient to use with multiple DAWs and multiple screen sizes
kiloHearts Gate works on Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.6 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX versions and supports both 32 and 64 bit systems. The plugin only costs $19.
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7. Wire Grind Advanced Noise Gate Review
Wire Grind Advanced Noise Gate claims to be one of the world’s most advanced noise gate device, they might be right as we shall take a look.
Having all the features commonly found within normal gates, Advanced Noise Gate has some additional features such as advanced gating controls, equalization controls, anti-click technology, and precisely tuned envelopes there is a lot under the hood.
With a multiband output, you can independently send different frequency signals to the output. They also come with sidechaining features plus two attack envelopes with ducking, and both peak and RMS detection.
- As the name states, this plugin offers the most advanced gate controls over any other noise gate plugin. This gives users a lot more control of the noise signals and how the gate treats them
- Wire Grind Advanced Noise Gate has an anti-clicking which functions surprisingly great, removing a good amount of clicking noises from the signal
- Release envelope used in this plugin is developed to function like the real decay of an actual instrument. Users are offered 2 attack envelopes. One is based on an analog synthesizer, and the other utilizes a volume swell that is gentle and gradual which makes listening to it more pleasing to the ear especially for long attack times
- Highly versatile and controllable equalization section which provides the user with equalization over 3 bands with a strong separation between bands
At the moment, the Wire Grind Advanced Noise Gate only works with Windows and supports all versions of Windows but works best on Windows 8 and higher. It comes in VST/VST3 versions only. The plugin costs $79 from the Wire Grind website.
6. Slate Digital Gates Plug-in Bundle Review
Slate Digitals ‘Gates Bundle’ gives you two of their most favorable gating plugins ‘Classic’ and ‘Drum’.
‘Gate: Classic’ comes with additional parameters such as ratio, range, attack, and release. Classic also has two modes for switching your gate to a ‘vocal’ mode.
‘Gate: Drum’ is a variation of the two which is more catered towards drum channels and processing. Taking a look at the drum gate, we can see a ‘Transient’ detection that allows the user to tweak the transients to their liking.
Both gates come with filters that can be applied to the signal. Slate Digital keep things very simple here, with no added extra windows and a straight forward design and execution these two are a deadly combination of gating plugins.
- Offers 2 modules for gate noise, one for general purpose and one designed specifically to be used on drums
- For the general-purpose module: users can choose between two modes which are Classic and Vocals. Classic is based on amplitude detection and high/low pass filters. The Vocal mode is used to maintain the vocals and not damage them with processing
- For the drum module: this module uses transients-detection. On top of that, it offers debleed and gate sections to handle the drums. Additionally, users get a variety of envelope-shaping options that enable them to process drums to preserve punch and feel
Slate Digital Gates Plug-in Bundle requires Windows 7 or higher for PC and OSX 10.12 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and only supports 64-bit devices. Gates bundle costs $149.
5. Infected Mushroom Gatekeeper By Polyverse Review
Polyverse Gatekeeper is a volume modulation plugin that has eight independent envelopes that can achieve very quick transitions combined with a smoothing algorithm.
This allows for a clean, fast, dynamic, and punchy gating in your channel processing with no compromises to sound. Built-in ‘Boost’ and ‘Clip’ features offer extra punch.
Using the tempo sync that is built into Gatekeeper will allow you to sync it with your DAW’s BPM. Moreover, Gatekeeper has a very eye-catching GUI that is complex and very effective but still remaining easy to use.
- Gatekeeper has 8 independent modulating envelopes which enable you to produce some very interesting and effective results
- Each envelope has an amp, time and pan controls
- Pencil tool which allows the user to design the envelope modulation. This tool has 30 presets as well as 5 presets that the user can edit alone
- Sidechaining is possible using Gatekeeper to duck sounds while others are playing to prevent muddiness
- Comes pre-equipped with hundreds of presets
Polyverse Gatekeeper requires Windows 7 or higher to run on PC and OSX 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and has support for both 32 and 64-bit devices. Gatekeeper sells at a price of $49 from the official website.
4. Waves C1 Compressor/Gate Review
C1 Compressor by Waves combines two modules which are Compressor/Expander & Gate/Expander.
The signal is sent to the Filter/EQ modules for further editing. With the C1, you can decide where you plan to have your gate open and close, unlike other plugins where you are limited to a one-level open/close value.
The levels for the compressor and gate are independent of each other but they can be linked to reflect the same parameters.
All modules can be used independently or in conjunction with one another.
- C1 has three incredibly powerful processing modules all within the plugin
- This plugin is popular for its spectacular sidechaining. Sidechaining comes with filters and equalizers to not only reduce muddiness but also to shape the tone for both the original and the sidechained signals
- Users can use the split-band dynamics to edit selected sounds independently as this feature isolates the primary frequency ranges of the sound
- Look ahead feature which is used to anticipate the transients and treat them in time
- No worries for sound quality compensation because this plugin supports 24 bit /192 kHz resolution
Waves C1 only works on Windows 10 for PC and macOS 10.12.6 or higher for Mac. It only supports 64-bit devices and comes in VST/AAX/AU formats. C1 costs $39.99 from the Waves website.
3. Boz Digital Labs Gatey Watey Review
Gatey Watey is a frequency dependant gate. This fun and creative gate react based on incoming frequencies, combined with the standard gate parameters.
The frequency receivers can be flipped into a low, mid, and high mode. This gives the gate the power to take out sounds based on their frequencies.
The simple but impressive GUI gives the user a powerful gate that is easy to use without compromising looks.
This no learning curve gate plugin and it’s an awesome addition to any producer/audio engineers arsenal.
- Gating is frequency selective which is very useful to only noise gate certain frequencies and allow others to play normally like vocals, guitars, etc. This feature makes it a step ahead of any other plugin in the market
- Look ahead feature to anticipate harsh transients and attack them in time
- Gatey Watey has a really simple interface that does not overwhelm users with a ton of controls which is favorable for users who want to apply a straightforward noise gate
Boz Digital Labs Gatey Watey runs on Windows and higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX/RTAS formats which makes it available for pretty much every DAW. It is priced at $49 from Boz Digital Labs website.
2. Oxford Drum Gate Review
Oxford Drum gate is one of the most highly advanced, intelligent, and innovative dynamic processors in the market, and that shows in its ability to distinguish and separate wanted and unwanted signals.
The plugin is made up of 3 tabs. Each tab consisting of options relating to a separate characteristic of drum processing.
The first tab is the main tab and is in charge of the “detection” part of the operation.
The second tab is the decay tab which gives the user ability to manipulate the signal more precisely.
The last tab allows the user to do the traditional input gating and dynamically control the remaining transients after fine-tuning the gate settings.
- Graphical display for the first tab and it shows the transients of the input signal
- Oxford Drum gate allows the user to choose from three modes namely Kick, Snare, or Tom mic. This gives the plugin idea of what it’s going to be dealing with and process it accordingly as well as offer the user a starting point for easier and faster processing
- The second tab has a graphical representation showing the precise location of the energy of the source which allows the user to attack it much more precisely than any other plugin
- This plugin has a leveler section which allows for dynamic control while eliminating the need for compression options
Oxford Drum Gate works well on Windows 7 or higher for PC and OS X 10.7 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX format and supports both 32 and 64-bit devices. It comes at a price of £170 or $228 from the Sonnox official website.
1. FabFilter Pro G Review
FabFilters Pro-G comes packed with features such as six different algorithms, mono, stereo, or mid/side processing, adjustable parameters, low CPU usage, and many more we will take a look at.
Pro-G has a beautiful GUI that keeps things simple but also extremely effective in practice. Combining this with the visual window of your signal process and the noise gates effect to that signal, you can confidently pinpoint your gate’s settings.
Another great feature of this gate/expander is that you can get very quick results. For example, you may be working on a channel that needs a noise gate or an expander but you are not sure which one will work best? With the many presets within Pro-G, you can quickly find a preset that fits your sound best and then tweak it to your liking.
- User can scroll through the graph to adjust the meter reading based on the level of the incoming signal
- The graph itself is comprehensive and interactive. It turns light blue when the gate is open and dark blue when it’s closed
- Mid/side mode which allows the user to control the transients. For example, users can make the transients wider by expanding the sides
- Look ahead feature to predict the transients and close the gate on time
- Fabfilter Pro G has 5 styles that the user can choose from; Classic which has a fast and harsh response and functions as a traditional universal gate, Clean opens the gate earlier and has a slower release time which makes the sounds less punchy, Vocal mode which is used to preserve the breath and the presence of the vocals, Guitar mode does not remove natural decay and finger strumming noises from guitar audio, and Upward mode is responsible for expanding the dynamics over the threshold limit
Fabfilter Pro-G works well with both Windows and Mac devices. It supports both 32 and 64 bits for Windows but only 64 bits for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AAX/AU formats. The Pro-G is priced at $179 from Fabfilter’s website.
Bonus – 6 Best Free Noise Gate VST Plugins
1. AlexHilton A1TriggerGate (FREE)
A1 Trigger Gate is a free plugin that is simply amazing. It allows you to simply trigger the audio with a gated sound. You can then manipulate this with some built-in settings.
A built-in window shows you the gate’s envelope settings, plus another window that shows the waveform. The mix features making it easier than ever to blend the two signals together.
Echo/Delay modules become useful when wanting to create awesome sounding tails or short snaps to the signal.
Low pass filter makes it easy to chop out any unwanted lower frequencies getting into the mix. A preset window allows you to save your favorite custom patches.
- This plugin one of the few plugins discussed in this article that has an in-built pattern sequencer. This pattern sequencer offers the user a choice between StepLink, LongStep, NoStep, and ShortStep pattern modes for different timing. Every beat is made up of four steps (1/16 notes) or three steps (1/8T in triplet mode).
- Despite being a free plugin, it stills provides users with integrated FX like delay, distortion, bandpass filter, etc.
- “Global FX OFF” button which turns off all the applied FX while processing the signal
- “Random” button which gives uninspired producers a starting point by applying a random sequence
This plugin works fine with all versions of both Windows and Mac OS. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit devices.
2. Dead Duck DD Gate (FREE)
Dead Duck DD Gate is another great free plugin to add to your collection.
Using the standard setup for a noise gate, Dead Duck hasn’t over complicated this plugin but instead kept it so simple that your nan could get awesome gating effects in seconds!
An in-depth and gorgeous metering level gives precision to the levels your inputting and outputting.
- Compressor section which has an option of makeup gain to bring back the sound level of the track after noise gating
- Dead Duck DD 4 bands EQ for users to edit and manually remove unwanted noise from any frequency range
- This plugin also has a limiter with a hard-clipping option which is useful to set a stronger threshold for the noise signals
- Both the limiter and the compressor in this plugin has a meter reading which shows the gain reduction for both elements
Dead Duck DD Gate works only on Windows and only comes in the VST version which means that it may not work in all DAWs. It supports both 32 and 64-bit devices.
3. LittleStudios LSGate (FREE)
LS-Gate is a gate designed to add rhythmic patterns to your signals. It can also be used as a Tremolo effect on your tracks.
It has 32-steps to edit to the desired level of rhythmic effect. You can even go as far as editing the open gate length per step.
The ability to join steps together can unlock the potential to merge in any way necessary. A/B mode allows for two variations of the parameter, also there are attack and decay settings for each step.
This is another great free plugin to try.
- LS Gate has a whopping 32 steps. Steps are split between pages A and B. The user can adjust the number of steps per cycle
- The length of the step is adjustable
- User can adjust the length of the open gate
- Steps can be merged to form longer notes
- Each step has an attack and decay controls
Just like the DD Gate, LSGate by LittleStudios only work on Windows OS and comes in VST format only which limits its usage to a few DAWs. It supports 32/64 bit devices.
4. Nembrini Audio Analog Rack Noise Gate (FREE)
More Info & Download
Nembrini Audio Analog Rack Noise Gate is one step closer to the most minimal gate ever.
Not that it’s a bad thing because this powerhouse of a gate doesn’t strut around thinking it’s the top dog, it knows its place and offers a truly amazing noise gate effect.
‘Threshold’ and ‘Range’ are the only two dials you have at your disposal and they are the only two you will need with this plugin. It does what it says on the tin and does it very well.
Given the ability to easily A/B listen to two setups and save your settings this makes Nembrini Audio Noise Gate an awesome free gate.
- Very simple and straightforward design for the interface with 2 knobs only
- The sound signature for this plugin is specifically designed for guitar and bass which makes this plugin among the best for noise gating guitar and bass samples
- All Nembrini Audio Analog Rack plugins are powered by a pre-amp tube. They have an “Analog” switch which if turned ON will add slight harmonic saturation to the overall sound, thus giving it an analog/warmer feel which is more pleasing to the ear
Nembrini Audio Analog Rack Noise Gate works on Windows 7 or higher for PC and Mac OS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and only supports 64-bit devices.
5. T-Force Trance Gate 2 (FREE)
Trance Gate 2 is a rhythmic gate effect with sidechain features. It can take any sound and turn it into a rhythmic sequence.
This effect was made famous by the trance music genre and has been revived in this plugin. Two LFO’s make it easy to create modulation without using an external plugin.
ADSR parameters for the amp, filter cutoff, resonance envelope give independence to each module. All controls are automatable, plus a mod matrix.
- Trance Gate 2 is also equipped with a 32 step sequencer. Each step can be switched ON or OFF
- Each step can be panned individually
- Each step’s velocity is individually controllable
- Dual delay. User has the option of switching between stereo and ping pong modes
- This plugin also comes with a Stereo Reverb
- An ADSR Amp envelope which is controllable through the step sequencer
This is a VST plugin only and it only works on Windows OS. It has support for both 32 and 64-bit devices.
6. digitalfishphones FLOORFISH (FREE)
This simple gate/expander plugin ticks a lot of boxes.
Being easy to get started you can opt for a subtle and soft expansion set up or turn the other way for a gating effect you cant compare to others.
What makes this gate/expander different is the fact you can scan for the source and make amendments to the curve accordingly.
It must also be mentioned that the interface of this gate is very eye-pleasing with its analog circuitry feel.
Why not grab this plugin and try it for your gating needs? it’s FREE!
- This plugin works amazingly as a de-esser to remove sibilance noise from vocals
- Floorfish is a very CPU friendly plugin. Applying it to tracks is seamless and it does not introduce any type of latency whatsoever.
- A smooth envelope makes it a great plugin for use on drums as it does not damage the sound characteristics of the drums like its ambience, etc. Its controls are frequency conscious which can be fine-tuned to a level whereby it brings down the grating noise level of hats, snares, etc.
- Listen button which allows the user to listen only to the frequencies that are being dealt with by the plugin
- It has a very simple GUI where all the control knobs are straightforward and easy to use
FLOORFISH by digitalfishphones works on Windows 7 or higher for PC. It worked for MacOS but the company decided that it was too old and they removed it. Unfortunately, Floorfish only comes in VST and 32-bit formats which limit its versatility among DAWs for such a good plugin.
Noise gating has always been a significant part of music production and audio engineering. Its use on vocals has also become vital in recent years as it can be implemented in live recordings and so on. The market for noise gate plugins is pretty interesting. You can never find any two plugins that offer the exact same set of features and functions as the next plugin. This makes choosing a noise gate plugin quite overwhelming for some users. Thankfully, this article discusses some of the best and most well-known plugins as well as their features in order to make it easier for users to make up their mind.
As this article has shown, there is a huge collection of noise gates/expanders to use within projects and audio creation. Finding the right one is down to your needs or what you find useful for everyday use. It has to be said though that it’s always worth trying a few out and seeing what they have to offer.
Started as a rapper and songwriter back in 2015 then quickly and gradually developed his skills to become a beatmaker, music producer, sound designer and an audio engineer.