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tips & tricks


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Sections - Tips & Tricks

Velcome to ze "Tips 'n' Tricks" bit - Here's a variety of tips from all areas of studio, midi & live work. The emphasis here is not just about tricks to get sounds, but also ideas to save money or time.

But surely YOU have soom real cool tips to share with your comrades in arms of the music world?! - Feel free to add your own money-saving or technique tips!

Check out some of the Tips below, or add your own & hey!... don't forget, there are plenty of FX-Tips in the Articles section too!


43 - AUDIO GATES FX TIPS        

From: kilo
Email: here
Date: 04-Apr-99

Alot of these tips relate to things you can do with a midi & H/Disk system. Some will apply to Tape & midi as well.......Quite a few of these FX tricks are the same as in the REVERB FX & TIPS Section.........But hey.....! that's the way it goes.

Fairly common one this, you probably know it, but if y'don't, and you've got a Stereo Audio Gate unit (cos we're processin' a stereo reverb signal), here goes.

  • Send the desired sound from the mixer, via an auxilliary send (echo/fx send) to the Reverb Unit.
  • Bring the L & R outs from the Reverb Unit into the L & R inputs on a stereo noise gate.
  • Set the Reverb to a large reverb setting, like a hall or something.
  • Set the gates to Stereo Mode, and set a low Threshold, and a fast Attack.
  • Next set a short decay time on the gates, and send the reverb through.....
  • You should get a massive reverb sound, which by adjusting how long the gates stay open for, cuts out quickly
  • You can now wierd up the sound, by changing the Attack Time on the gates
The beauty of doing it yourself, is that you can get just the correct amount of open/hold time on the gate, to obtain the custom sound you're after, and to rhythmically fit the song......Most cheaper Reverb Units if they have Gated Reverb, fix the decay time, which can clash rhythmically with the song.

Once you've set up the effect, say on a synth pattern, you can run the sequencer, and record the Reverb effect with the synth onto H/Disk (or Tape). You can then arrange the effected synth patterns into the song with copy/drag 'n' drop, and then reset the reverb for general use in the final mix....

Another wierd variation can be had by setting the gates to Fixed Stereo mode, AND... Trigger Input mode, and then while having the Reverb go through them, trigger the gates open and closed rhythmically with something like a hi-hat pattern.
All you have to do, is send some hi-hat to the Trigger Input Socket on the gates from either an Aux Send, or with an insert cable plugged into the hi-hat- channel insert socket.
This gives you wierd rhythmic reverb coming off a sound. Once again, you can record the effect into H/D, and arrange the patterns into your song, then reset the reverb for general use.


Ok, this is a variation of above......Here's the proceedure in more detail.

  1. Set up the sequencer playing a drum beat with a regular hi-hat pattern
  2. Next set up a synth playing a pad sound like say a Synth String Sweep pad or something
  3. Next set up a sequencer loop, of about 4 - 8 bars of the drums & the synth pad, playin' a single note held for the duration of the loop
  4. Send the synth pad through one side of the Audio Gate
  5. Set the Gate to Trigger Input Mode, and to a fast Attack & Decay time
  6. Send some hi-hat signal out from the desk, from an Aux Send, or via a parallel line insert (that does not cut out the original hi-hat)
  7. Feed that Aux hi-hat signal into the Trigger Input on the Gate
  8. Now as the loop plays, adjust the Threshold on the Gate, until the hi-hat signal is opening & closing the gate with every hit.
  9. The effect you should get, is the sound of the synth pad being triggered in & out with the hi-hat rhythm.

This effect sounds wicked, and unlike anything a regular synth can come up with. This FX sounds good on other sounds that are continuous and sustained such as vocal parts, or reverb as in the above trick. You can use any sound to feed to the Trigger Input on the Gate, you can even make up a drum pattern which doesn't appear as a drum sound in the mix, but is created just to trigger the gate. In this case, simply send that sound direct to the Gate's Trigger Input, bypassing the desk and audio outs.


If you are using a tape machine like a Fostex or something, or even if you're just using a midi only system, when you go to mix-down the track to stereo, there's always that pause at the beginning, before any sounds start up.

Before the track comes in, there is often alot of hiss etc coming from the mixer and other kit, as well as the tape tracks if your using them.

If you have inserts on your stereo ouputs from the desk, patch the stereo gates across the output.
If you don't have inserts, run the stereo outputs direct into the Gates, and monitor off the stereo machine.
Try a few dry runs, starting the track from the top. Set the Gates to Stereo Link Mode, so each side is sync'd. Set the Threshold so the Gates open at the first sound to appear. Set the Attack Time to Fast so the Gates open quick, and the Decay or Release Time to slow or medium.

Now run the mix, and if the track has a fade out at the end, as soon as the track kicks in go to the gates and switch the Bypass Switch on. This will stop the Gates cutting in halfway through your fade-out.

At the end of the fade-out, flick the Gates' Bypass Switch off, and they will gently close down the signal to the Mastering macine, eliminating any electrical noise that may still be present even though the Main Fader is right down.

This will keep your mixes super quiet, and when that sound comes blastin in from no-where, it sounds real good.

OK, we can't all afford super pro backin vocal teams, so often they get done by some mates or some not so experienced people. Sometimes they don't all come in together, there's a fraction of a second gap between the start of the first phrase from each of say 3 vocalists.

If you put the track with the BV's through a Gate channel, you can set the Threshold, so it sounds like they're all coming in spot-on. You can also adjust the Attack Time, to make the vocals fade in really fast, which can sound interesting, especially if they are shadowing a main vocal line.

You can also apply long Attack times to get wierd fade-up FX

If you are working alone, and you want to produce multiple FX like the above, but also with pan and volume fades, or complicated echo FX, see the COMPLICATED DELAY FX PRODUCTION TIP in the FX-RACK section

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