Noise gates are one of the most overlooked pedals. Since they are not much of an effect, they tend to be looked down on. If you are guilty of having such a kind of attitude, I suggest you to take a moment to appreciate the amazing power of these bad boys. Have you ever been mesmerized by the performance of your favorite guitarist? Have you sat there wondering how on earth they managed to deliver such an incredible sound? Well, the answer is simple, my friend, and it is NOISE GATES. A lot of skilled musicians use these devices in order to perfect their music. No matter how skilled you are, sometimes things get out of control and that is exactly when these god-blessed units step into the game. If you do not believe me, choose the best noise gate pedal from the list below and it will turn your world upside down. Are you ready to risk?
Top 7 Best Noise Gate Pedals
You know you are getting a quality product when you see the name of Dunlop. MXR M-135 is no exception. This is not your ordinary noise gate pedal. It offers all the things you would look for, but with a touch of more control and additional features. Let’s discuss all of them in depth, so that you know what you are getting yourself into. It has one main knob, labelled as Threshold Level, which allows you to set the volume at which the pedal will be activated. Next to it you will see a switch with three modes to offer: Hiss cancels out any unwanted hiss in your sound, Mid is a subtler version of the gate, while Full attacks your noise at full strength. There is one more button on this bad boy – Hi Trigger Range adds precision and presence to your affected signal. MXR M-135 has very good tracking abilities featured in a solid body. If you are looking for something powerful and reliable, this is the one!
- Works great with clean channels and signal chains
- Transparent sound (mostly)
- Very durable
- Might color your tone a bit in terms of hiss reduction
It is not a secret that TC Electronic offers TonePrint enabled pedals in their newer series. They are so common, that this app comes into mind when you see the name of the brand. However, I was really surprised to see this feature in a noise gate pedal. You might wonder, what on earth that is supposed to do. Let me clear that up: TonePrint provides you with an interminable list of gate-shaping options, which means you have more control over your tone. Sentry itself has three knobs: Threshold lets you adjust the level of the sound where the effect will start to operate, Decay is pretty self-explanatory, while Damp allows you to control how blended your ultimate sound will be. In addition, this pedal has a toggle switch offering Hiss, Gate and TonePrint modes. The first two can be used to switch between softer and hard-gate functions, while the third activates the app. Sentry does all of this without interfering with the dynamics of your sound. If you are a control-freak (in a good way), look no further!
- Offers much more than your typical noise gate pedals
- Allows you to tweak as much parameters as possible
- Does not color your tone
- Might be a bit too much for some
- You will have to mix and match to find your perfect settings (which means you will need to spend some time playing)
Time passes, but the quality of Boss pedals stays the same. NS-2 Noise Suppressor offers as much durability as you would expect from this brand. It is built like a tank and will withstand a lot of abuse, so prepare to spend your whole life with it. The controls are quite mainstream on this one – it has all the essentials you will need. It has three knobs: the first two (a.k.a. Threshold and Decay) adjust and tweak the main parameters of your sound. To put it simply, they manage at what level the effect will take place and how gradual your decay will be. The third knob is where things get a little bit more interesting: it allows you to choose between Reduction and Mute modes. The former cancels out the noise gradually, while the latter just suppresses the tone as a whole. Boss NS-2 has been a staple for many guitarists for a reason. By purchasing this pedal, you will be guaranteed to have a reliable noise suppressor in your signal chain.
- Extremely durable
- Can act as a power supply for other pedals
- Delivers precise tone
- Might color your sound a bit
- A tinge of tone suction might be present
Donner keeps surprising the world with their affordable yet powerful pedals. Noise Killer is in the same league. It comes in a compact design that will save you up a lot of space on your pedalboard. When it comes to operating this pedal, achieving the desired sound is like taking candy from a baby. Noise Killer has a single knob on its exterior, labelled as Threshold (surprised, ha?). It goes from -70dB to +10dB, which is quite a decent number for a pedal that costs so little. What is more, it has two modes: Hard and Soft. The former is a straightforward killer gate, while the former suppresses unwanted sound but lives some room for deliberate noises. This is a very cool feature, especially for those who integrate irregular tones in their performance. Noise Killer offers way more than you would expect from something so inexpensive. Great bang for the buck indeed!
- Extremely affordable
- Powerful operation
- Just the right amount of control
- Compact design
- Might add color to your sound
- Gives off clicking sound when activated
Rocktron Hush is as simple as it can get. This is the case where the end result is achieved through ease of use and the lack of overcomplicated features. The design will give you an impression that the pedal has too much “free space”, which could have been used for fancy additions. But trust me, you do not need anything else with this one. It has a single knob – Threshold, which will allow you to control the margin of sound level that will trigger the pedal to take action. Hush offers up to 65dB of cleanup, which will satisfy even the pickiest guitarists. It will cancel out all the unwanted hisses and any other noises without interfering with the sonic characteristics of your initial sound. It does not chop your signal in a harsh way. Rather, it balances out your sound without ruining your sustain or drive. Just keep in mind that setting this bad boy right will make a ton of difference. All in all, guys in Rocktron have amped their game with yet another pedal.
- Very precise and accurate
- Great build quality
- Does not color your sound
- Not for everyone (you will either love it or loathe it)
The Gate of Kahn is a very compact pedal that knows how to get the job done. It is so tiny that you will be able to fit it even to the most overcrowded pedalboard. It has only one knob (Threshold), which is relatively enough for a noise gate. You can tailor the sound to your preferences with the help of this feature. One cool thing that I love about this pedal is that it comes with a cap. You can find your favorite settings, close the cap and avoid messing it up accidentally. Gate of Kahn can act as a subtle suppressor for your lower tones, eliminating all the unwanted noise with little to no interference with your sound. It is a nice little addition to your pedalboard that will take your performance to a whole new level.
- Very compact
- Reasonable price
- Does what it is supposed to
- Easy to use
- Does not have a battery compartment (not surprising due to its size)
BEHRINGER is famous for producing inexpensive pedals and when I say inexpensive I mean CHEAP. Noise Reducer is not an exception either. It is not as durable as your high-end pedals, so be careful with its usage. However, the features it offers are quite surprising for a pedal this affordable. It comes with basic Threshold and Decay knobs, which are quite self-explanatory. They are quite sensitive, so once you find your perfect parameters, leave it at that! What is more, Noise Reducer offers two modes: Mute and Reduction (I am pretty sure you are getting Boss flashbacks at this point), that are basically various levels of gating. As far as the performance goes, do not expect it to rock your world or eliminate all the noise in your signal chain. It will get the job done, but not as precisely as others. At this price point it does more than one would imagine. If you are on a budget, this is the pedal that will save you from noise.
- Extremely affordable
- Easy to use
- Decent performance
- Not very durable
- Not as powerful as its rivals
How to use a noise gate pedal
We all know that when it comes to musical devices proper utilization is the key to achieving desired results. More often than not, we are quick to judge the brands and pedals for faulty performance while in reality we are guilty of doing things wrong. This is especially true when it comes to noise gate pedals. To make sure that this will not be a case for you, I will discuss all the tips and tricks you will need to get maximum results.
First of all, examine the cables and pedals in your signal chain. Even though noise gates eliminate all the unwanted hiss or hum in your sound, they cannot (and are not supposed to) reduce the noise coming out of your jagged cables or moribund pedals. Just make sure that everything is in good condition before setting up such kind of stompbox.
Second of all, in order for this pedal to operate, the level of your noise should be at least 60Hz. It can pick up any unwanted sounds coming out of your amp, or the ones created by your guitar pickups (even from the instrument itself). The other type of noise these pedals work with is called “white noise”. It is a sound that is generated due to overdriving your amp too much or using an excessive amount of gain. This is an important thing to note in order to understand the capabilities of your tools thoroughly.
Last but not least, the way you set up the noise gate pedal will influence your end results A GREAT DEAL. This is the device that will either give you amazing sound or do nothing. In the worst-case scenario, it will ruin your tone by depriving it of all the dynamics and dimensions. The latter occurs when you do not know what to do with the pedal and you just plug it in inadvertently. When it comes to placing it in your signal chain, there are several ways to go. The most common one is to put it at the end of your chain but before delays and reverbs. Noise gates tend to chop off reverb tails that basically ruins the effect. You can use a more straightforward approach: place it right after your noisy pedals or amps (some of them might not work with the signal coming out of your guitar). This way you will achieve an effect that has all the needed dynamics but is perfectly in balance and precise. You have to know where your noise is coming from, though. In order to figure this out, listen to every single piece of your chain independently, match them with the pedal and trust me, you will find that badgering bastard (a.k.a. feedback/hiss/hum/noise).
All in all, even though most of the noise pedals have elementary controls that even a toddler could tweak, they are not that easy to use. That is why you have to listen carefully and get to know your sound to its core. Figuring out what is wrong is one of the most satisfying feelings. It is even more satisfying to listen to your perfect tones. Do not underestimate this bad boys-they were invented for a reason after all!
I want to thank you for staying with me till the end. I hope you enjoyed our little journey in the world of perfect sounds. The aim of this article was to give you all the information you will need for choosing the best noise gate pedal. I will dare to say that I have successfully accomplished this task. Just a little disclaimer: the suggestions I have provided are not clear-cut rules that must be followed. Whether you obey them or not is completely up to you. I just wanted to create a general understanding of how things work (from my experience and not only). However, it all comes down to your preferences and taste. Do whatever you want with your music, you are the only one who can decide what is right for you. Never forget to explore and dive deep into your sound, because the only thing that matters is your music. Good luck my friend and never let the noise take over your sound!