Noise Gate Hardware: Do I Need Noise Gates for Podcasting?

by | Equipment

Unwanted noise occurs whenever you record, whether it’s a podcast or an upcoming hit song. It comes from the electrical buzzing and humming that happens with today’s electronics.

Acoustic energy, background noise, and other sounds can interfere with a recording.

The easiest way to avoid these problems is to keep the noise down and work in a soundproofed room, but that isn’t always possible as a podcaster.

That’s where the benefits of noise gate hardware become helpful. This equipment creates crisper sounds, clean recordings, and a better experience for each listener.

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Why Are Noise Gates Used?

Noise gates are audio processors that control excessive noise within an audio signal. When used correctly, it can block all unwanted sounds while recording a podcast.

You can use hardware or software to accomplish this outcome.

When recording a podcast, the noise from external sources and the surrounding environment accumulates. This issue adversely impacts the recording quality.

Today’s microphones are quite sensitive. When you start talking, it might pick up the clicking from your keyboard, sounds of the neighbors arguing, or the barking dog who thinks the postal worker is a potential threat.

Even with all those potential problems, you have an almost-good recording. The podcast vocal might be a perfect take, but you’ve captured a ton of audio bleed. That’s when a noise gate is helpful.

During the mixing stage, you’d insert a noise gate on the vocal channel, adjust the settings to attenuate the audio, and hopefully eliminate that unwanted noise.

Several types of unwanted noise can get into your podcast recording efforts if you’re not careful. Have you experienced any of the following issues before?

  • Ambient noise that interrupts the balance and flow of the narration.
  • Room reverb that changes the way the vocals sound for the podcast.
  • Traffic, people, pets, phones, and other outside sounds.
  • Headphone bleed that creates an echo on your audio track.
  • Subtle movement sounds that get put on the recording when shifting in your seat.

Noise gates provide an effective tool that helps you solve this issue.

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Why Do Podcasts Need a Noise Gate?

When recording a podcast, a noise gate keeps out noise by turning down the microphone’s input gain when you stop speaking.

That allows the background noise to be recorded at a lower volume.

When you start speaking again, the noise gate opens to let the microphone return to its normal volume.

If you think about how you speak, there can be small gaps between different words or thoughts expressed in a recording. When noise exists in the background, the changing sounds between the speaker and the environment would be very distracting.

Noise gate incorporation offers more consistency and balance.

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What Does a Noise Gate Do on a Microphone?

It’s a straightforward process to use a noise gate for your podcasting needs. It blocks any sound coming through the audio channel once you set the threshold on the equipment.

If a sound sits below that threshold for your hardware settings, it blocks the noises in that spectrum.

When a noise is louder than that threshold, the gate opens to allow the sound. You’ll find four standard parameters available when hooking up this hardware to the rest of your recording setup.

Threshold is the first parameter. It is responsible for determining when the gate should open and close. The next is attack, which dictates how quickly the gate closes.

Release is the third standard parameter. It determines how slowly or quickly the gate opens. You also have a hold setting that dictates how long a gate stays closed before it opens.

Some hardware options only have one or two of those parameters, which is why some podcasters prefer using software instead.

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Should I Use a Noise Gate?

Before deciding if a noise gate is necessary, please review your board and DAW to see if one is already available. Although software versions aren’t the same as hardware options, you can still produce an excellent result that your listeners will appreciate.

If you believe noise gate hardware is necessary, the next step is to think about placement. You might include a compressor, some gentle modulation, and an EQ with podcasting vocals. The best spot to add it would be at the end of the chain before incorporating any delays or reverbs into the mix.

When combining modulation and compression effects, incremental audio artifacts are sometimes audible. The noise gate can take care of that issue without hassle. The dividends it offers make the investment worthwhile.

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