Video Created by JOEL CAMERON - Transcribed by TOM BOWSER
Using the expander/gate makes it possible to isolate individual drums. This allows you to process (Example: EQ) the drum without affecting other components in the drum kit. For example, using an expander/gate to isolate a tom that is near a ride cymbal allows you to EQ the tom drum without the EQ affecting the ride quite as much. The drum will also sound a bit dryer which allows you to bring up the room mic/s. There will also be less interaction between EQ used on separate drums and with artificial reverb that may be added to the track.
- Instantiate a Pro Tools Expander/Gate Dyn 3 on the Tom track.
- Increase the RANGE until the gates stops chattering. You may also have to increase or decrease the THRESHOLD to get the gate to stop chattering. Listen and watch the GR meter to verify the expander/gate is not chattering.
- Use the RANGE control to adjust the amount of gain reduction. Watch the GR meter to verify. For a natural sound stick to a gain reduction of between -12 and -18. Make sure the range setting is the same for each Tom or one drum will seem heavier/more prominent in the stereo mix/image.
- Set the RATIO control to further attenuate how much background noise or bleed is heard. The RATIO control sets the amount of expansion. Experiment with a ratio setting of around 5 or 6. Adjust until you get the sound you want.
- Decrease the ATTACK time (turn knob counter clockwise) as much as possible (10.0us). This will allow the drum transient through.
- Increase the HOLD until it sounds natural about 300ms or so for a medium tom drum.
- Increase the RELEASE time as or if needed until it sounds natural or as you want it.
NEXT: Open the expander/gates plug-ins of ALL other Toms to verify the amount of gain reduction (GR) is the same on all the Toms. It will keep the sound between drums similar. If the amount of gain reduction is not similar between drums, the drum with less gain reduction will seem more present (louder) in the stereo mix. This will make the mix seem heavy on one side of the stereo image.
NOTE: One of the differences between a noise gate and an expander is a noise gate has a fixed amount of reduction until the TRESHOLD is exceeded. An expander which is related to a gate has a RATIO control.
RATIO Control The Ratio control sets the amount of expansion. For example, if this is set to 2:1, it will lower signals below the threshold by one half. At higher ratio levels (such as 30:1 or 40:1) the expander/gate functions like a gate by cutting off signals that fall below the threshold. As you adjust the ratio control, refer to the built-in graph to see how the shape of the expansion curve changes. This control ranges from 1:1 (no expansion) to 100:1 (gating).
RANGE Control The Range control sets the depth of the expander/gate when closed. Setting the gate to higher range levels allows more and more of the gated audio that falls below the threshold to peek through the gate at all times. The range setting should be the same for all similar drums (Example, Toms) or their balance in the stereo image will be altered making one drum appear more prominent than the other.
To learn more... Dynamics Processors: Noise gates (expanders)