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Author Topic: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?  (Read 3531 times)

Mike Henderson

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2020, 10:09:58 am »

The last AM station I worked at used a chain of CBS AudiMax and Volumax.  The last FM I worked at had an 1176 that they were replacing with an Orban OptiMod.

Well yes, I am aware of the heavy cost of Radio Station hardware. I am still trying to figure out exactly which feature does the multi band leveling, is it the gate or compressor or would need a combination of BOTH?
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John L Nobile

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2020, 10:27:33 am »



Generally speaking, compressors are tools to use when creating music.  Once that music is created, the only thing they do is muck stuff up.  I'm not a fan.

Well said.

I'll have to forward that quote to my local radio station. They could be a great example on what happens when you use a compressor wrong. I cannot listen to them anymore.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2020, 11:04:09 am »

Thanks for the info guys. I am nt a DJ, I have DJ equipment and use a an mp3 automated playback software which is a hybrid of Radio and DJ features. I simply will have a playlist running while hanging out or relaxing. My software comes with a built in Compressor and Limiter so the volume of every tune is at the same level but it does not have a multi band leveler so for different tunes you will hear different instruments at different levels.

With Radio even though Brian to you it "often sounds like crap" :), this is what I would like and is how I have heard one DJ's system sound. No matter which type of different music he played every instrument played at the same level just like a radio station.

I have been trying to do some research on what exactly the Gating function does and my research is showing that is is not for multi band leveling  so I am confused?

Well, there's no accounting for taste...  I'd rather hear the music as it was released by the artist and producer, but everyone gets to set their own priorities.

In the end you'd be happier with Spotify or other streaming source where this bit of lifting has already been done.

What you are looking for is ALC - automatic level control.  It was very common for a broadcaster to use an ALC followed by a peak limiter.  How these are set, and how they interact together, determined how much a stations 'air' will suck or not.  The result of processing has been a broadcast battle for the LOUDEST ON THE DIAL (yes, I was shouting) in order to capture station-hopping listeners.  Preventing tune-out also gave us the Top 40 format, among other things...  If your music collection is digital, I'd consider doing a batch conversion with software to normalize and adjust levels to fix a dynamic window rather than merely compress your mixer output.  Perhaps there is a feature in DJ software that can do this in real time and save the considerable effort to "fix" tracks that were cut differently (especially back in the vinyl era).  What you're wanting to automate is what DJs have done manually, for a long time.

And no, a "gate" is not what you want.  A gate is a device that works sort of like a backwards compressor/limiter in that it has a 'threshold level' that you set; with a gate, until a signal reaches the threshold, the "gate" does not open and little sound is passed but when the signal reaches the threshold level, the gate opens and you can hear the source.  With compressor/limiters, the signal is always present at the output and the threshold setting determines when the compressor/limiter begins to reduce the level.
Well yes, I am aware of the heavy cost of Radio Station hardware. I am still trying to figure out exactly which feature does the multi band leveling, is it the gate or compressor or would need a combination of BOTH?

Until a few year ago, if you found on old Optimod or Dorrough DAP, they were cheap.  The CBS units were, at the time, probably very expensive, and are again today because they're vintage toys.

You can replicate the Audimax/Volumax pairing with the Aphex Compellor and Dominator.  Both are stereo units, analog, and probably fairly cheap these days.  That said, I think you need to fix your playback level upstream of the system itself.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Mike Henderson

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2020, 11:57:58 am »

Oh I see, thanks for the all of the knowledge guys.
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2020, 12:23:39 pm »

When I have had to play background music (or as I like to call it room noise) I usually compress the playback. Usually music has too much dynamic range to be used as room noise. So if you know what you are doing with a compressor and it is the right compressor for the task it definitely helps. I very rarely have to play background music. And due to licensing issues I try to not do it unless I am given the music to play and I usually warn them about licensing issues.

At one event a few years ago I was given music to play (and that was the last time I had to do that) it was for an event where the people were milling around and talking. What I have noticed happens in a situation like this is the louder that you play the music the louder the crowd noise gets, until someone complains that it is too loud and says the people are there to talk to each other. But I have noticed that the lower frequencies of the music come thru without creating an issue with the people talking. But the melody for most songs isnít in the lower end of the music. So I was wondering if there would be a market for music for background purposes that had the melody played in the lower registers.

So it depends on the situation you are in as to how to deal with music playback. What works for one situation doesnít necessarily work for other situations.
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Jeff M Hague

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2020, 04:56:51 pm »

Hey guys, I wish to tackle now what is perhaps the major issue I have always had playing mp3's and can use some technical help with it please if you pros won't mind?

I had visited a guy once whose DJ system would play back every single tune like a Radio station with all frequencies being constant. I just spoke with him and he said he uses a "Gate" hardware piece to get that and recommended I look into a DBX unit. He said I should look at a gate specific unit as first option but if not then any DBX compressor/limiter/Gate unit would do.

Since my DJ software has a limiter/compressor which keeps the volume constant I am thinking as he has recommended I get something like this to keep all frequencies constant?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/DBX-172-SUPER-GATE-SIGNAL-PROCESSOR/192788835752?hash=item2ce31c2da8%3Ag%3AmVEAAOSw91JcOkVG&LH_BIN=1

or should I get one like this please?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/dbx-166xs-Professional-Audio-Compressor-Limiter-Gate-Dynamic-Processor/154125765763?hash=item23e29c8c83%3Ag%3A7xoAAOSwvGNfX13c&LH_BIN=1

I run a Mono system. Thx.

I dont think your buddy knows what a gate does. It definitely does not do that! A compressor can but its not keeping frequencies constant - it is limiting dynamics so the volume appears constant. Keeping frequencies constant is sortof the opposite of music. All frequencies at the same level is white noise.
Also, be carefull with too much compression. If you cut the peaks too much and have to raise the overall volume a lot to compensate, you cause the speakers to do a lot more work and can slowly cook the voice coils.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2020, 10:25:04 pm »

[...] But I have noticed that the lower frequencies of the music come thru without creating an issue with the people talking. But the melody for most songs isnít in the lower end of the music. So I was wondering if there would be a market for music for background purposes that had the melody played in the lower registers.  [...]

Now this, to me, sounds like a job for a multi-band compressor. I would guess that it's not the melody causing the problems but some of the low-order harmonics. My understanding is that much of the information required to differentiate between English-language consonants is contained in the octave below and above 4 kHz, so a high-shelving compressor band with it's corner at ~2 kHz and with a fairly high ratio might well allow for additional music volume without additional speaking volume (and without the "this sound system sounds way too bassy" effect of just using a high shelf EQ).

-Russ
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2020, 04:03:32 am »

Hey guys, I wish to tackle now what is perhaps the major issue I have always had playing mp3's and can use some technical help with it please if you pros won't mind?

I had visited a guy once whose DJ system would play back every single tune like a Radio station with all frequencies being constant. I just spoke with him and he said he uses a "Gate" hardware piece to get that and recommended I look into a DBX unit. He said I should look at a gate specific unit as first option but if not then any DBX compressor/limiter/Gate unit would do.

I'm going to be less polite than the other guys here: the DJ friend doesn't know what he's talking about.

Gates have been discussed previously. Quiet signals don't get through, loud ones do. I don't use them much, unless a GTR amp has noticeable background buzz, or the snare rattles too much between hits. Others like to use gates to shape the sound of individual drums etc, but I'll only do that as a problem-solving measure. NB - this is a per-channel device to be used at the mixing stage.

Constant energy per frequency is white noise (pink noise is different - equal energy per octave). The fact that instruments have transients etc means all frequencies simply cannot be constant all the time.


What you might be aiming for is this: a more uniform spectral balance between different tracks/albums/genres of music. ie, if some tracks are too bright and others too bassy, you want to reduce those differences in the overall sound. In that case, a multi-band compressor set for RMS detection, and slow attack and release and dividing into bass, low-mids, high-mids and treble would be my approach. Crossovers at 150Hz, 800Hz, 4kHz. Ish.

Whether you want to do that is another discussion. Some of the old Motown records, for instance, can have waaaay too much content in the 2-8kHz range to be comfortable at loud levels. Some would argue, though, that it's part of the sound of the era, and should be preserved.

I'd do whichever makes the person writing the cheque more likely to write more cheques in the future.

Chris
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Kevin Maxwell

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2020, 09:28:04 am »

Now this, to me, sounds like a job for a multi-band compressor. I would guess that it's not the melody causing the problems but some of the low-order harmonics. My understanding is that much of the information required to differentiate between English-language consonants is contained in the octave below and above 4 kHz, so a high-shelving compressor band with it's corner at ~2 kHz and with a fairly high ratio might well allow for additional music volume without additional speaking volume (and without the "this sound system sounds way too bassy" effect of just using a high shelf EQ).

-Russ

Maybe I didnít explain myself properly. I am not referring about anyone talking thru a sound system. I am referring to people milling about and talking to each other with music playing in the background. A multiband compressor will not do what I am suggesting. The music would have to be arranged and performed in a completely different way for this to work. I know there isnít enough of a market for anyone to do this it is just that I am stating a completely different way of producing music that could be less objectionable when played at the same time as the crowd wants to mill around and talk to the other people around them without having to shout.  You canít just remove the frequencies of the playback (background) music that interferes with someone talking. I am referring to being able to recognize the music with just the low frequency content. So the melody would need to possibly be played on a bass guitar of just the left hand on a keyboard, played octaves below where it is normally played. 

And I am pretty sure this part of what I was referring to is completely off topic from what the OP was asking for. I just wanted to try and clarify that part of my post.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2020, 02:15:10 am »

Maybe I didnít explain myself properly. I am not referring about anyone talking thru a sound system. I am referring to people milling about and talking to each other with music playing in the background. A multiband compressor will not do what I am suggesting. The music would have to be arranged and performed in a completely different way for this to work. I know there isnít enough of a market for anyone to do this it is just that I am stating a completely different way of producing music that could be less objectionable when played at the same time as the crowd wants to mill around and talk to the other people around them without having to shout.  You canít just remove the frequencies of the playback (background) music that interferes with someone talking. I am referring to being able to recognize the music with just the low frequency content. So the melody would need to possibly be played on a bass guitar of just the left hand on a keyboard, played octaves below where it is normally played. 

And I am pretty sure this part of what I was referring to is completely off topic from what the OP was asking for. I just wanted to try and clarify that part of my post.

I understood you, Kevin: the cocktail party for the younger, "hipper" type of company that wants to seem cool enough to listen to SWF R&B but is still boring enough to want to network and conduct business. :D

I've never tried it (I'd like to know, but the right testing conditions are a little hard to come by), but I'm suggesting that normal music played with a good chunk of the high-frequency signal compressed out of it will a) allow people to easily converse over top of it, and b) will still be recognizable as music (to the extent that background music needs to be recognizable, at least). Compression will alter the overall tonal balance less than a straight-up shelf or LPF would, and the brain should acclimate to the "new normal" pretty quickly.

-Russ
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Re: Help me setup a "Gate" hardware piece?
¬ę Reply #19 on: November 15, 2020, 02:15:10 am ¬Ľ


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