Noise Gate and Compression

Applying compressor and noise gate

How do you use compressor and Noise Gate Plugins? Can these be applied to the tracks before recording as in drum and bass inputs, or are they processed after??

Hi Fenderbuilder,

There’s a lot of implied questions surrounding what you’ve touched on. I’m not sure what you know about compression but here’s a good article to get you started…

(Note: This is the only version I could find right now and it’s on one of those free web hosts with pop-ups etc. Sorry. But the text is good).

Jezar’s How to Use a Compressor

Essentially a compressor makes “loud” bits quieter, so when applied to a signal like (for example) a bass guitar, it smooths things out. Once those loud peaks are reduced, the whole thing can be turned up if necessary without those peaks causing clipping/distortion.

As for using compression on the way in… yes it is done BUT there are two things to note:

1. You can’t undo it. If you’ve got a great track but you’ve got too much compression, you’re done for.

2. People use compresion to limit the range of input signal hitting the tape or soundcard. eg to reduce maybe the big peaks on an instrument so it can be recorded “hotter”. Of course the problem here is that in the digital world, those peaks have to hit your soundcard (and maybe cause clipping/distortion) before it gets to the software compressor.

So for my money… use a hardware compressor in the way in (carefeully), but use a software compressor after the recording.

The specifics of the user interface on each compressor will be different (the Fasoft one I find a little confusing), but if you understand the principles (ie understand Jezar’s article) you should be on the way to success.

I’ve gotta fly… perhaps someone else can add some more or tackle your Noise gate questions.



If you are thinking of gating and compressing or limiting the signal as it goes into the box, I’d use hardware. Software compressors just don’t sound as good to me. Gating is perhaps not as much of a problem, but if you want to do both, gate and then compress, well, as I said, I think it sounds better in hardware. :)

Definately use software compressors/limiters/gates after recording. They serve little use on the way in that if you clip your line input, the software gets it already clipped. Hardware on the way in, software once it’s in the box. Personally, I don’t use limiters or gates on th way in hardly ever. Just do a good level check before tracking and give yourself 6-10db of room on top and you should be fine. Then once in the box, compress/gate away.