To the right of the traffic lights is a quick-to-use range graph which can either be adjusted using the LF and HF CUT rotaries on the bottom control bar or more conveniently by dragging the two markers on the graph to highlight the desired frequency range; particularly useful for focusing on the relevant frequencies of each drum in a drum kit for example.
This ability to focus on a small frequency range is incredibly useful for making sure only a specific tom triggers the gate, and is really good at cleaning up bleed from tom to tom and coincidently great for helping to reduce phase issues between mics around a drum kit.
When a further control pot, the SC M/S (side chain mid/side) control is turned hard left, only the centre audio information will trigger the gate. At 12 o’clock, all of the audio triggers the gate, and at hard right, only the side audio information will trigger the gate.
To the left and right of the central display – as is common with many SSL plugins – are the input and output meters aligned above their respective rotaries for accurate gain staging. Between these is a really comprehensive set of visuals starting with a rolling graphical waveform representation of incoming audio. A horizontal green line, representing the opening threshold, and red line representing the closing value coincidently mirror the value boxes above.
To the right of this graphic is a vertical dB meter and vertical slider for gain reduction, where the threshold for opening, closing and the range of reduction in dB is set. Again, you can either drag values up and down in the box or grab the relevant sliders within the display.
Being able to adjust settings on a graphical representation of the incoming audio makes it very simple to set your open and close thresholds. Another useful control is the ability to switch between PEAK/RMS for detection, especially if you use your gate for other instruments besides drums.
Along the bottom bar are further controls for shaping the gate’s behaviour – these include Attack and Release times once the open and close thresholds have been breached, a Hold for increasing the time the gate is held open once the threshold is reached, and finally a Knee which becomes active when you engage the EXP button for expansion mode.
The EXP mode is really good if you want to widen the dynamic range without closing the gate altogether, or dramatically changing from one dynamic level to another in an abrupt manner. As mentioned earlier, the Knee control comes into its own and can really smooth the transition from your lowest to your quietest levels, creating a more transparent sound.
The Gate LISTEN button is also useful from a reference viewpoint to hear what it is you’re removing from your audio path, but could also be used as an effect in its own right should the mood take you.
Lastly, on the bottom right is a really great GATE M/S, mid/side rotary control. Turn it hard left and the gating is applied only to the mid audio in your stereo field. Turn it hard right and only the side elements of your audio are affected by the gate. At 12 o’clock, the whole stereo signal is affected by the gate.