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Gate/Expander block

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Gate block.png

Available on which Fractal Audio products

  • Axe-Fx III: 4 blocks
  • Axe-Fx II: 2 blocks
  • AX8: 1 block
  • FX8: 2 block

X/Y and channels

  • Axe-Fx III: 4 channels
  • Axe-Fx II XL and XL+: X/Y
  • Axe-Fx II Mk I and II: no
  • AX8: X/Y
  • FX8: X/Y

There's no MIDI CC available for Gate/Expander X/Y switching on the Axe-Fx II.

Noise gate instances

In the Input block

Presets have a noise gate at their input. The gate uses CPU cycles, so switch it off (turn Threshold to Off) if you have no need for it.

Axe-Fx III: all signal that appears at an Input block is processed by the gate, whether analog, digital, or USB. The gate includes EMI filtering which helps suppressing pickup noise.

(Axe-Fx III) "The new noise gate in the Input block is killer. I recommend starting with default settings (reset the block) and then adjust the threshold to obtain the desired results." source
(Axe-Fx III) "Each input block has a built-in gate." source

As a separate block

The deperate Gate/Expander block provides precise control, such as Sidechain Select, and flexibility.

Noise gate types: Classic and Intelligent

There are two types:

  • Classic – Basic downward expander.
  • Intelligent – Faster and more stable gate, using a proprietary noise reduction algorithm.
(Axe-Fx III) "Improved Input block noise gate. When the Type is set to Intelligent (default) the noise gate now provides smart EMI filtering which reduces hum and buzz. NOTE: For best results the AC Line Frequency parameter in the Global Settings menu should be set to match the power line frequency of your country (i.e. 60 Hz for North America, 50 Hz for EU, etc.)."

Prior to Axe-Fx III:

"I don't use the gate at all. On the Ultra I would use the gate on high gain patches but I find I don't need it now. I did some measurements and the II is at least 10 dB better SNR." source
"The self-noise of your guitar is usually greater than the self-noise of the Axe-Fx. This noise will be amplified by the amp block. For high-gain tones it is almost always necessary to use a gate to control this noise. Adjust the noise gate in In/Gte to squelch the noise." source
"There are noise "reduction" techniques but all alter the desired signal in some way. Noise gates are among the most useful for our particular needs. Digital cameras use various techniques based on the statistics of the image (i.e. if an area of the image is monochromatic heavier filtering is applied). The Intelligent gate in the Axe-Fx uses some crude statistical processing where the statistics are based on the typical stats of a typical guitar. IOW, noise reduction is destructive. You can't beat the laws of physics. So you can't remove noise without somehow altering the original signal." source
"The amp model doesn't add noise, it just amplifies it." source
"To get the best noise performance it is important that the Instr In trim is set correctly in the I/O > Input menu. Set this as high as possible without clipping the input." source
"The Intelligent mode of the gate is more than just a gate, it includes noise reduction." source

Parameters

Parameters table

Parameter Axe-Fx III Axe-Fx II AX8, FX8
Type (only in Input block) yes
Threshold yes
Ratio yes
Attack Time yes
Release Time yes
Hold Time yes
Sidechain Source yes
Low Cut, High Cut yes
Setup > Global > AC Line Frequency yes no no

Threshold

Determines how quiet the signal must be for the gate to close. See: Global Noise Gate Offset (below).

(Axe-Fx III) "The new noise gate in the Input block is killer. I recommend starting with default settings (reset the block) and then adjust the threshold to obtain the desired results." source

The Threshold parameter on the Axe-Fx III is different from the Axe-Fx II.

"There is a 20 dB offset between the II and II." source
"-65 dB on AX8 = -45 dB on Axe-Fx III." source

Ratio

Determines how much quieter the signal will be when the gate is closed.

Attack and Release

Attack determines how long it takes for the gate to open after signal levels exceed the threshold. Keep this low to preserve the attack of first notes.

Release determines how long it takes for the gate to close. Use a slow setting for a gradual decay to prevent your notes from being clipped suddenly.

(Axe-Fx II) "I prefer a fast attack and slow release and a ratio around 2." source
(Axe-Fx II) "For guitar I recommend setting the Attack time very short (less than 10ms) and the Release time to 100-200ms. Ratio 2-3:1 and Threshold to taste." source1 and source2
(Axe-Fx II) "General rule of thumb on any gate is short attack time (<5ms) and long release time (~100ms)." source
(Axe-Fx II) "Typically you want a fast attack and slow release otherwise you'll get noise as the gate rapidly opens and closes when the signal decays." source
"A rule-of-thumb is that your release time should be 10-100 times the attack time." source

On the Axe-Fx III always start with default settings. Don't set Attack and Release too fast.

Level

The Level parameter of the gate determines the loudness of the signal entering the grid. It still works when the gate is off and can be used to boost of cut signal strength.

Sidechain Select

You can use SCSEL (SideChain Select) to select the signal the gate is working with. If the gate is the first block in the routing there's no need to use SCSEL. If the gate is placed after other blocks in the routing, it can be useful to use SCSEL to set an optimal source signal, such as Input 1. This is similar to the way the ISP Decimator operates. This is done by creating a separate routing from the grid input into the Gate block. source source source

SideChain Select is not available on the AX8.

Global menu: Noisegate Offset

The Offset parameter in the Global menu offsets the gate threshold across all presets. This can be used to increase or decrease the threshold to compensate for varying interference levels. If the Threshold parameter in the preset is set to “Off”, the Global Offset will have no effect. The default value is 0 dB and is set to that upon System Reset.

(Admin M@) "When I program a pro rig, we always set the noise gate at a threshold that feels best in the studio, knowing that the global NOISEGATE OFFSET which can save you in a pinch should the rig need to be used in a noisy environment. By the way, BEFORE we had this global option, we'd often opt for a much more aggressive threshold: -65 db or thereabouts!" source

Global menu: AC Line Freq

This helps the gate in the Input block to suppress EMI filtering.

Available on the Axe-Fx III only.

Alternative to noise gate: Volume block

A different approach to keeping the noise low: try a Volume block with the Volume parameter tied to the Envelope controller. As long as you don't hit the strings, the (input) signal is off.

More information