Tweaking your sound to perfection is virtually impossible without a noise-gate pedal. We as musicians tend to look down on the units that don’t have audible effects. But in reality they are tools that shape the foundation of our sound and make it more professional. No matter how hard you try to stay clean and quiet, those long cables, high-pitch amplifiers or hissing pedals will cause some noise to develop and nobody wants that interfering with their tone. Adding a noise gate in your signal chain is the easiest solution and will make a lot of your troubles disappear. This small unit will make a huge difference and you will never want to turn it off once you understand how much it can improve your sound. Why would we say no to something that turns us into better versions of ourselves? Especially when reliable brands such as MXR from Dunlop come up with the pedals that we know we can trust. Their M-135 Smart Gate is not a typical noise gate with only one thing to offer – it has some features that set it apart from the competition. If you want a pedal that still remains in the affordable price range yet delivers high quality performance, then you have to consider the features of this one. Let’s begin!
Noise gate is one of those effects that is really hard to diversify. More often than not you will see the pedals that have only one knob on the surface and to be fair, that is enough. However, MXR decided to create something that would have more precision and enable you to tackle all the noisy issues with accuracy. Apart from featuring the standard ability to alter the threshold of the sound, it provides us with the capability to aim the effect towards specific kinds of noises. Here you can choose what kind of unpleasant tones will be filtered – you can cut down on hiss, mid-range or the full scope. What is more, you can trigger the special switch when the situation gets really out of hand and noise reaches extreme levels. This way you will have the chance to remove anything you don’t want to be in your overall performance and sound really professional. Keep in mind that the way you alter this pedal should depend on the type of your instrument. Single-coils and humbuckers will require different approaches so just consider that when you get down to business. MXR M-135 Smart Gate has hardwire bypass that will accommodate the specifics of this unit and any peculiarities that might be present in your chain. It has a road-worthy enclosure – just the perfect quality for such a lifesaver pedal. The design suits the effect really well, in my opinion, as it includes grey body that makes you feel safe and protected. Typically, this one can be powered by a single 9V battery and an adapter – making it easy to switch between different options whenever needed. As you can see, Smart Gate is definitely simple in its essence, yet it still provides you with more control compared to its rivals. What can be better than that?
What we have here is the combination of three different controls. They all depend on one another, as you basically have various modes that this thing operates in. You will find out what I am talking about in a second, I just wanted to mention that you have to really know how your instrument should be treated with this pedal. Otherwise, you might mess things up and make bad worse.
The main control here is Trigger Level. It determines how sensitive the noise threshold is and enables you to cut out all the unwanted frequencies. But if that is not enough for you, there is also a Hi Trigger Range switch that extends the range of Trigger Level for those situations where noise is just too extreme and ordinary controls lose their power. You will also find a toggle here which moves between three settings: Hiss, Mid and Full. The first one works the best with the instruments and sources that cause high frequency hiss, the second one is suited for taming down excessive mid-range boost (hiss will do the trick too with that one), while the third one is a perfect match for low-input sources that have some hum or noise in the bottom-end. Finally, Smart Gate can be activated or bypassed with the help of a standard footswitch. You will find complementary LEDs that will make your job easier and display the settings that are chosen with the pedal.
When it comes to the sound of M-135 Smart Gate, we cannot really talk about any audible effects. But we can easily underline how much difference it can actually make. This fella has excellent tracking that will enable you to reduce noise without messing up the harmonic content of your original or affected sounds. This is a really versatile noise gate due to its added features that can be really helpful in many different scenarios. All three modes of operation work exactly as they are supposed to, but keep in mind that eliminating the hiss might result in some tonal coloration. Other than that, this pedal will easily solve all your problems, even those that seem to be too serious to be resolvable. Learn how it reacts to your instrument, your playing techniques and the whole chain. And once you do that, you will have a perfect tool in your hands.
All in all, MXR M-135 Smart Gate is a wonderful piece of equipment for those scenarios when different types of noises start to occur in your performance. Be it hiss, hum or buzz, this fella will know what to do. It is like a medicine that can cure several diseases simultaneously. How cool is that? It will maintain the qualities of your music and won’t affect negatively those beautiful parts you worked so hard on. Good luck!
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