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 unique features, many people face a hard time 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. Depending on your parameter settings, the gate will affect the sound by eliminating the sound below or above a certain threshold.
Here are the main parameters you would use to affect 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.
Where Do You Place A 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 a later 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 that 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. You can use this effect 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.
For more details about the Noise Gate, feel free to check this link.
10 Best Noise Gate/Expander VST, AU, AAX Plugins 2021
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 you full control over the amount of the signal being output by Dynamic Gate. ‘One-shot’ mode allows you to have in-depth transient shaping, which can 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 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 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 turn routes it to another channel in the DAW for you to edit its panning, leveling, and just process it differently, which can be extremely useful as it prevents signal loss.
- Flip button, which you can use to swap gated and rejected signals.
Unfiltered Audio G8 works on Windows 7 or higher and OSX 10.9 or higher. It only supports 64 bits version and comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX versions.
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: ‘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 you to switch between gating/expanding or ducking ideas quickly. 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
- Expansion mode allows the track to have noise reduction for difficult noise like background interferences and slight noises.
- The ducking mode can reduce the effect’s impact 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.
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 has a 5ms headstart to the plugin, allowing it to anticipate transients and attack them accordingly.
- A tolerance knob is used to set a point where the gate will close if the signals drop below that.
- Sidechain allows you to set a ducking effect that de-emphasizes the noise gate when the track gets busy to avoid the muddiness and cloudiness of the mix.
- kiloHearts Gate’s interface is a resizable one, making 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 32 and 64 bit systems.
7. Wire Grind Advanced Noise Gate Review
Wire Grind Advanced Noise Gate claims to be one of the world’s most advanced noise gate devices; 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 you 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. You are offered 2 attack envelopes. First is based on an analog synthesizer, and the second 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 you with equalization over 3 bands with a strong separation between bands
Currently, 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.
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 that catered to drum channels and processing. Looking at the drum gate, we can see a ‘Transient’ detection that allows you to tweak the transients to their liking.
Both gates come with filters that you can apply to the signal. Slate Digital keeps things simple here, with no extra windows and a straightforward design and execution; these two are a deadly combination of gating plugins.
- It offers 2 modules for gate noise, one for general purpose and one designed specifically to be used on drums.
- For the general-purpose module: 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, you get various 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 and OSX 10.12 or higher. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX formats and only supports 64-bit devices.
5. Infected Mushroom Gatekeeper By Polyverse Review
Polyverse Gatekeeper is a volume modulation plugin with eight independent envelopes that can achieve quick transitions combined with a smoothing algorithm.
This allows for 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 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 effective but remains easy to use.
- Gatekeeper has 8 independent modulating envelopes, which enable you to produce some exciting and effective results.
- Each envelope has an amp, time, and pan controls.
- Pencil tool which allows you to design the envelope modulation. This tool has 30 presets as well as 5 presets that you can edit alone.
- Sidechaining is possible using Gatekeeper to duck sounds while others are playing to prevent muddiness.
- It comes pre-equipped with hundreds of presets
Polyverse Gatekeeper requires Windows 7 or higher and OSX 10.9 or higher. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and has support for both 32 and 64-bit devices.
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. You can use all modules independently or in conjunction with one another.
- C1 has three compelling processing modules, all within the plugin.
- Look ahead feature, which is used to anticipate the transients and treat them in time.
- This plugin is popular for its spectacular sidechaining. Sidechaining comes with filters and equalizers to reduce muddiness and shape the tone for both the original and the sidechained signals.
- You can use the split-band dynamics to edit selected sounds independently as this feature isolates the primary frequency ranges of the sound.
- No worries for sound quality compensation because this plugin supports 24 bit /192 kHz resolution.
Waves C1 only works on Windows 10 for PC, or macOS 10.12.6 or higher. It only supports 64-bit devices and comes in VST/AAX/AU formats.
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.
You can flip the frequency receivers 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 you a powerful gate that is easy to use without compromising looks. There is no learning curve as this gate plugin is an awesome addition to any producer/audio engineer’s 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 straightforward interface that does not overwhelm you with many controls, which is favorable for users who want to apply a straightforward noise gate.
Boz Digital Labs Gatey Watey runs on Windows and OS X. It comes in VST/VST3/AU/AAX/RTAS formats, making it available for pretty much every DAW.
2. Oxford Drum Gate Review
Oxford Drum gate is one of the most highly advanced, intelligent, and innovative dynamic processors in the market.
That shows in its ability to distinguish and separate wanted and unwanted signals. The plugin comprises 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 you the ability to manipulate the signal more precisely.
The last tab allows you 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 shows the transients of the input signal.
- Oxford Drum gate allows you to choose from three modes: Kick, Snare, or Tom mic. This gives the plugin idea of what it’s going to be dealing with and processes it accordingly and offers you 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 you to attack it much more precisely than any other plugin.
- This plugin has a leveler section that 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.
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 is 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 unsure 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.
- Fabfilter Pro G has 5 styles that you 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. Upward mode is responsible for expanding the dynamics over the threshold limit.
- Mid/side mode allows you 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.
- You can scroll through the graph to adjust the meter reading based on the incoming signal level.
- The graph itself is comprehensive and interactive. It turns light blue when the gate is open and dark blue when it’s closed.
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.
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 trigger the audio with a gated sound simply. 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 mixed features making it easier than ever to blend the two signals together. Echo/Delay modules become useful when creating awesome sounding tails or short snaps to the signal. A 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 is one of the few plugins discussed in this article that has an in-built pattern sequencer. This pattern sequencer offers you a choice between StepLink, LongStep, NoStep, and ShortStep pattern modes for different timing. Every beat comprises four steps (1/16 notes) or three steps (1/8T in triplet mode).
- Despite being a free plugin, it stills provides you with integrated FX like delay, distortion, bandpass filter, etc.
- The “Global FX OFF” button turns off all the applied FX while processing the signal.
- The “Random” button gives uninspired producers a starting point by applying a random sequence.
This plugin works fine with almost all versions of both Windows and macOS. It comes in VST/AU/AAX formats and supports both 32 and 64-bit devices.
2. 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 overcomplicated 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
- DD Gate Has 4 bands EQ for you 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 have 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 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-parameter variations; 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. You can adjust the number of steps per cycle
- The length of the step is adjustable
- You can adjust the length of the open gate
- It can merge steps to form longer notes
- Each step has an attack and decay controls
Like the DD Gate, LSGate by LittleStudios only works on Windows OS and comes in VST format only, limiting its usage to a few DAWs. It supports 32/64 bit devices.
4. Nembrini Audio Analog Rack Noise Gate (FREE)
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.
- 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 and Mac OS 10.9 or higher. 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. It can switch each step ON or OFF.
- Each step can be panned individually.
- Each step’s velocity is individually controllable.
- Dual delay. You have the option of switching between stereo and ping pong modes.
- This plugin also comes with a Stereo Reverb.
- An ADSR Amp envelope 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 setup or turn the other way for a gating effect you cant compare to others. What makes this gate/expander different is that you can scan for the source and make amendments to the curve accordingly.
We must also mention 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!
- 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 it can fine-tune to a level whereby it brings down the grating noise level of hats, snares, etc.
- Listen button, which allows you to listen only to the frequencies being dealt with by the plugin.
- It has a very simple GUI where all the control knobs are straightforward to use
FLOORFISH by digitalfishphones works on Windows 7 or higher. 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 limits 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 you can implement it in live recordings. 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 and their features to make it easier for you to make up your minds.
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.