Whether you're a seasoned music producer, a podcast creator, or a sound engineer, the quest for pristine audio quality is never-ending. Some of the most often used plugins in this are noise gate plugins.
They can help you take unwanted noise out of the background of vocal recordings, buzz out of noisy guitar amps, or get rid of headphone bleed. And while gate plugins might seem pretty straightforward, there are several different types and styles with different features and functions. In this article, we'll dive into noise gate plugins, exploring some of the best on the market so you can sculpt your audio with the utmost precision.
What Is a Noise Gate Plugin?
A noise gate plugin is a digital audio processing tool used to reduce or control unwanted background noise or signal artifacts in recorded audio.
Noise gates operate by automatically attenuating or muting audio signals below a certain threshold level, effectively "closing the gate" on quieter or undesired sounds. Whether you need to eliminate hiss, hum, ambient noise, or other sounds that can degrade the overall audio quality, noise gate plugins are particularly useful.
While some noise gate plugins are pretty simple, only giving you a threshold level to play around with, some provide the ability to fine-tune parameters such as threshold, attack time, release time, and more, allowing for precise control over how and when the gate engages.
Best Paid Noise Gate Plugins
Denise Audio consistently delivers exceptional plugins for mixing and mastering, with standouts like the Dragon Fire Compressor, which is one of my favorites. The Poltergate , which is a fairly recent addition to the Denise Audio lineup, is a comprehensive gating plugin that seamlessly merges the capabilities of gating, de-bleeding, and transient design, all encapsulated within a visually appealing user interface.
In numerous instances, standard gate plugins fall short when attempting to clean up drum recordings. Lingering bleed often manages to permeate through, leading to unfavorable results when compressed later down the line.
Enter Poltergate, the solution to this very issue.
Denise Audio has ingeniously developed a dedicated algorithm for their De-Bleed function, controlled by just three intuitive knobs. This function ensures that the punch and character of your drum sounds remain intact while efficiently eliminating problematic bleed.
With the inclusion of the Curve feature, Poltergate's versatility pushes even further. You can make gating adjustments specific to various regions of the frequency spectrum, giving you the power to selectively choose the elements and rhythmic aspects you wish to emphasize within a sample.
Poltergate also presents a Dynamics option that imparts texture and punchiness to your samples, adding a layer of complexity in terms of sound design possibilities.
One particularly remarkable feature is the sidechain input option, which allows you to reverse the gate's reaction. This feature lends itself to crafting dynamic, pumping sidechain effects so you can infuse your tracks with a sense of movement and emotion.
When you skillfully combine this capability with the other available controls, you get the power to finely tune your sounds with precision.
The Infected Mushroom lineup of plugins from Polyverse consistently delivers exceptional performance, and their volume modulation plugin, Gatekeeper , holds up to this standard admirably.
What sets Gatekeeper apart from conventional gate plugin designs is its eight independent envelopes. This distinctive attribute is what makes Gatekeeper of the finest noise gate plugins, particularly when it comes to rhythmic gating applications.
While it can certainly do the regular work of a traditional noise gate plugin, Gatekeeper's true strength lies in its formidable rhythmic capabilities, allowing you to modulate your audio with total precision.
One of the most notable things about this plugin is the user interface, which maintains the intricate yet visually captivating aesthetic characteristic of other Polyverse plugins. Despite its seeming complexity, the GUI is remarkably user-friendly, allowing you to get the desired results in an instant.
And as a complement to its impressive array of attributes, Gatekeeper boasts an extensive collection of presets, providing users with a broad spectrum of starting points.
Beyond that, the inclusion of gain, pan, and envelope controls for each envelope pushes Gatekeeper's utility even further, making for a potent and unique noise gate plugin that grants unparalleled creative possibilities.
With its exceptional customizability, Gatekeeper might just be one of the most remarkable tools for noise reduction sound design.
Sonnox Oxford Drum Gate
Coming straight from the reputable house of Sonnox, a developer that is known for producing an array of industry-leading mixing and mastering plugins, including the esteemed Oxford inflator, is Drum Gate , one of the most notable additions to the Oxford plugin lineup.
This meticulously crafted gating plugin offers a keen focus on streamlining the workflow and addressing common issues like compromised ghost notes, unwanted chatter, and misdetection.
Drum Gate is a bit different from the array of gate plugins on this roster, as it's purposefully tailored to drum applications. Central to its functionality lies an intelligent drum-hit detection algorithm that discerns audio transients by their specific types.
In fact, you'll find three distinct detection modes within the plugin, including kick, snare, and tom.
When you use any one of these modes, it prompts Drum Gate to selectively detect the chosen element. For instance, if you designate "Snare" as your detection mode, the plugin's emphasis will solely be on recognizing snare drum hits while maintaining silence in other audio segments. It's pretty incredible.
The enveloper feature presents an additional layer of utility within Drum Gate, allowing you to smooth out the decay of your sound. For example, you could take the extension of snare decay and trade it for a more resonant ring or tighten it to get a crisp, snappy sound. This functionality is a pretty stark contrast to the swift in-and-out characteristics you'd find in a standard gate.
One of the other standout offerings of this plugin is the Levelling option, which allows you to enhance the consistency of a drummer's performance. The result is a more uniform audio output.
If you're in search of a drum-specific gating solution, Sonnox's Drum Gate is a commendable tool.
Crafted by the renowned developers over at FabFilter, Pro-G is a true testament to their excellence. The company has long been known for producing top-tier mixing utility plugins like the Pro-Q3, which is one of my absolute favorite EQ plugins.
Sitting at the pinnacle of noise gate plugins, fabfilter's Pro-G offers an unparalleled blend of simplicity, user-friendliness, and remarkable potency. The first thing you'll notice is the versatile array of six distinct algorithms, along with support for mono, stereo, and mid/side processing. Even with its deep functionality, the plugin maintains incredible efficiency. You never have to worry about using multiple instances of the plugin, as it delivers minimal strain on your computer's CPU resources.
Pro-G also seamlessly transitions between its roles as both a noise gate and an expander, and you can switch between the bost with ease.
What truly separates Pro-G from the masses, however, is its lightning-fast workflow. Regardless of what you need to do with your gate, this plugin can help you do it in seconds. You'll also find an array of presets to get you started, providing an all-inclusive solution for your gating requirements within a single, exceptional plugin.
Softube Valley People Dyna-mite
Valley People Dynamite by Softube is a reiteration of the original hardware rack unit. It’s a bit like a Swiss Army Knife in that it’s an expander and limiter. It’s a true secret weapon for noise reduction.
Even though it’s an expander and limiter plugin, it kind of hits the mark as an overall dynamics plugin, whether you need extreme leveling, ducking, keying, RMS compression, or gating. When you get the bundle from Softube, you also get a few unique add-ons, including the Gate and Slam options. The Gate option allows for expanding and gating, while the Slam option allows for limiting and compression.
Though I often find myself using it for drums more than anything else, it’s a great little just about any sound you want to give a bit more oomph to.
Boz Digital Labs Gatey Watey
With a playful name like Gatey Watey , you may not expect a serious best gate plugin contender. However, it truly offers an experience as enjoyable as its moniker implies. Boz Digital Labs did it again, delivering an exceptional gate plugin that operates with a frequency-dependent approach. With this ingenious design, you can gate specific frequencies within your audio, allowing you to separate sounds across low, mid, and high ranges with precision.
Although Gatey Watey takes a departure from conventional noise gate plugins, it preserves the familiarity of standard gate parameters. You'll find many of the same features you'd find in any other gate plugin in the market.
The user interface strikes a balance between simplicity and inspiration, and the aesthetics alone often entice me to incorporate this plugin into my workflow. Among the vast array of gate plugins, Boz Digital Labs' Gatey Watey might just be the most distinct, boasting an exceptional creative capacity.
Even if you already have a gate plugin in your noise reduction arsenal, trust me when I say Gatey Watey deserves a place alongside it. Its uniqueness and creative prowess are bound to impress,
As a true workhorse within the realm of production, the Waves C1 is one of the most impressively versatile noise gate tools for creators in the Waves noise reduction realm. Seamlessly integrating gating, compression, and expansion, the C1 offers a comprehensive suite of effects that can be employed individually or combined to refine your sound even more.
Divided into three distinct modules, each of these effects offers robust processing in its own right, underlining the C1's remarkable adaptability and making it a noteworthy contender among gate plugins.
If you want a bit more control over the dynamics of your signal, split-band dynamics enable you to meticulously isolate specific frequency ranges, resulting in a more intricate and nuanced dynamic manipulation. One added advantage of the C1 lies in its look-ahead feature, which helps the plugin to anticipate transients with greater accuracy.
Beyond that, and perhaps the most captivating aspect of the C1 is its exceptional sidechaining capability. Equipped with its own set of equalizers and filters, the sidechain feature not only contributes to further tone shaping but also effectively mitigates muddiness within your audio.
Solid State Logic SSL X-Gate
SSL X-Gate is a precise gate processor from Solid State Logic that gives you all the functionality you could expect from a high-end SSL plugin. The X-Gate plugin was inspired by the digital broadcast SSL console, providing mid-side processing, a rolling waveform graph, and tweakable hysteresis with independent open and close threshold controls.
You can tweak your sounds even further using the mid-side balance option and the sidechain filter interface. The DUCK mode and EXP mode offer attenuation only when a signal exceeds a threshold and a fixed expander mode for the most transparent gating possible.
SSL-X Gate was beautifully designed. I absolutely love the old-school hardware look, which gives you classic knobs to tweak and turquoise accents that make for a sleek look. Even though it’s packed with plenty of cool features, it’s still very easy to use and dial-in settings in a pinch.
Best Free Noise Gate Plugins
Alex Hilton A1TriggerGate
A1TriggerGate is a unique plugin in that it is used to create sequenced gating effects for trance or EDM rhythmic patterns. There are several features found on this gate plugin, including pattern commands and a host sync, though one of my favorite things about this plugin is the integrated effects, including echo/delay, drive/distortion, and the lowpass filter.
A1TriggerGate is a great tool for turning repetitive loops into interesting sequences with builds and drops. Alex Hilton also did a fantastic job with the design of the plugin, giving it an old-school hardware sequencer vibe. Though it might seem a bit busy compared to most sleek and modern gate plugins, everything feels nicely balanced and not overwhelming in the slightest.
Even if you aren't making electronic music, it's still an exciting tool for experimentation.
Mastercode Music T-Force Trance Gate 2
Trance Gate 2 might be one of the smoothest-looking free plugins on this list. You get a sci-fi-style industrial chrome interface with an orange-neon aesthetic, which gives it a unique visual appeal.
It functions differently than the other noise gates too, as it's an enveloped controlled rhythmic gate effect, perfect for transforming instrumental tracks like guitars and synth pads into pumping rhythmic sequences. There's a reason that it's called Trance Gate 2. Even so, no matter what kind of music you make, you'll no doubt be able to find uses for it. It's such a useful tool for creating uniquely rhythmic patterns and sequences.
You'll find a number of tools built into Trance Gate 2, including a multimode filter, a sidechain input, and an internal step sequencer, perfect for dialing fun and freaky effects. I often find myself using it for risers and other transition FX.
What's worth noting is that unlike some of the other noise gates on this list, I wouldn't really recommend Trance Gate 2 for cleaning things up. Instead, it's more a generator of rhythmic sequences. So if making patterns is what you're after, you'll really enjoy everything TranceGate 2 has to offer.
AraldFX StormGate 1
StormGate 1 is a bit like Trance Gate 2 in that it's a rhythmic gate plugin you can control using different amplitude patterns. There are plenty of built-in drawing tools, though you can also go freehand and draw them in manually. Whether you're working with an ambient guitar track or a droning synth pad, you can add rhythm, color, texture, and variety to your sounds using StormGate 1. The compressor sidechaining feature is just as helpful, especially when you want your kick to punch through.
Though the GUI is a bit primitive compared to most of the other noise gate VST plugins on this list, it's a super versatile tool that does exactly what it has been made to do. If you need to add some life to your still tracks, StormGate 1 is a weapon.
GVST is one plugin creator that has an incredibly long history of supplying producers and mixing engineers with free high-quality plugins. In fact, they've been around since the early days of computer-based recording and software engineering, so when it comes to experience, they've got it.
Head to the GVST website, and you'll find a diverse range of plugins, including a compressor, limiter, pitch corrector, stereo imager, chorus, reverse delay, and more. GGate might be one of the simplest noise gates on the list, giving you just three knobs to dial in the sound you're looking for — attack, threshold, and fade. Though it isn't the most robust noise gate available, it does exactly what you need it to do without taking up tons of CPU.
The only downside is that the GUI might feel a bit outdated for some.
Dead Duck Software DD Gate
DD Gate by Dead Duck Software is a simplistic 64-bit noise gate plugin that looks like something you'd pull from an old SSL-style analog console. It's certainly one of the most popular free gate plugins on the market today, as it's super easy to operate, has a slick GUI, and doesn't come with a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles.
For starters, you get all of the basic controls you'd expect from a modern noise gate, including attack, hold, threshold, release, trim, low-cut, and input. Whether you need to get rid of noise on vocals, guitars, drums, or bass, DD Gate can do the trick. It's transparent when you need it to be yet it works as an obvious effect when you want to get creative.
Of course, it's totally free, so you really have nothing to lose from trying it out!
Sascha Eversmeier Floorfish
Floorfish has been around for quite some time. In fact, as of today, it's going on for 20+ years. And even though it's not a pioneer of a plugin by any means, it's a very well-designed VST that's super easy to use. Though it's an older plugin, it's still got a pretty eye-catching interface by today's standards.
Some people might be turned off by the fact that it is a 32-bit noise gate plugin, though, in terms of quality, you can't notice much of a difference. The controls found on Floorfish include attack, release, expansion, sense, frequency detection, and a few stereo and self-explanatory bypass buttons.
If you're not looking for anything super fancy, yet you want a competent and effective noise gate plugin, Floorfish is a solid choice. It doesn't hurt that it's free, either!
Bob Perry Audio Bob Perry Gate 2
For a noise gate plugin, Bob Perry Gate 2 is a good-looking little tool. The GUI has a semi-hardware rack look to it and looks great on screen. The navy gradient console backdrop is smooth and easy on the eyes, and the chrome control knobs are clear in their functionality, making for much simpler use.
There are only five main controls to worry about, including range, release, attack, hold, and threshold. However, you'll also find a few curve switches for more control, such as S-curve, logarithmic, and linear. Even though it's a simple and beginner-friendly plugin, you get a bit more control than some of the other free noise gates on this list. Plus, with the high-def use interface and the high-resolution processing, it offers a slight bit more luxury than other noise gate VST plugins.
While you can certainly use this noise gate on just about any piece of audio, I feel that it's more suited to drums, especially if you're working with live snares. You also get a few presets to play with and a visual waveform display to give you more cues as to what you're affecting.
Note that though it's supported by Mac and Windows, it doesn't seem to work on every DAW, so make sure that you take a look at the compatibility on the website before downloading.
Nembrini Audio Analog Rack Noise Gate
If you're looking for something that's simple, powerful and has an old-school analog feel, I highly recommend checking out Analog Rack Noise Gate by Nembrini Audio.
Sometimes, having a plugin that's easy to use and has a straightforward design that helps you get to the desired effect in a pinch is the best thing. Plugins like Analog Rack Noise Gate take a lot of the guesswork out of gating so you can reach your final destination quicker.
You'll only find a few knobs on Analog Rack Noise Gate, including the range and threshold dials, as well as input and output knobs to control the input and output signal. I often find myself using this plugin on guitars and basses, especially if they have noisy single-coil pickups. The effect can be pretty noticeable, so you truly only need to dial it in slightly if you want your tracks to be transparent. Note that you will need to sign up with a free iLok account and get the iLok License Manager to use it.
Auburn Sounds Renegate
And finally, we come to Renegate . According to Auburn Sounds, the Renegate noise gate is a "smooth workhorse gate." The developers at Auburn Sounds Plugins kill it when it comes to GUI design, and there's not really much that needs to be said here. What's important to note is that the strict attention to detail they've put into the plugin is beautifully reflected in its inner workings.
Renegate is a full-band noise gate plugin, and unlike some of its other specialty competitors, it's quite simple. Even if you're a total beginner, you'll find it super easy to throw on any audio signal and get it working.
While you won't find any crazy bells and whistles on the free version of this plugin, such as the raw knob for adding saturation, the built-in sequencer, oversampling, or ancillary gain reduction knobs, the plugin is more than capable of getting rid of unwanted noise.
If you're completely fresh to the world of noise gating, you can use one of the few included presets as jumping-off points. Unlike some other free noise gate plugin options, this one work for both Windows and Mac.
Whether you're aiming to remedy drum bleed issues, infuse rhythmic nuances into your sounds, or eliminate annoying hum, a noise gate can be an invaluable ally in refining your tracks.
I hope that with the insights in this guide, you feel equipped to find the right noise gate VST plugins that can seamlessly integrate into your DAW workflow.