Quick & Easy Gating Effects in FL Studio

Gating is a cool way to add a fluttering effect to your synths or vocals. Basically what we’re doing here is quickly changing the volume of a sound in quick succession. The outcome is called gating and it’s used all the time in trance, progressive house, and many other genres.

As with a lot of things in FL Studio, there are multiple ways to create gates. You can even create gates in Gross Beat. In this tutorial, we’ll run through the fastest and easiest way to add epic gating effects to your productions. Let’s jump in.

Using Automation

In this method, we’re going to be using automation clips. If you’re not familiar, automation clips are ways to automatically control a parameter in FL Studio. We’re going to be automating the Volume knob of Fruity Balance in the Mixer to create our gating effects.

Step 1: Route a Sound to a Blank Mixer Track

I find that volume gating works really well for sustained sounds. This includes long, drawn out vocals, pad synths, orchestras, brass sections, and choirs. Basically anything that’s played for a long, continuous amount of time will sound good with gating applied.

For this example, I’ll use a choir from Kontakt. If you don’t have Kontakt, that’s OK. You can use a Sytrus pad or string preset instead. Again, anything with long, drawn-out notes will do just fine.

Route the instrument to a blank Mixer track by toggling the “Target mixer track” slot in the Channel rack next to the instrument channel. I routed my choir to Mixer track 1. Just scroll with your mouse wheel. Make sure to rename it (mouse-wheel-click on the Mixer track).

Step 2: Lay Down Some Chords in the Piano Roll

Next up, we’ll need some notes to play. I use a pack of MIDI data from Unison to quickly add chord progressions to my productions. But if you don’t have Unison, you can go into the Piano roll and turn on Scale highlighting. Then, just choose a set of highlighted notes to create your chords.

Adding chords from my Unison pack.

To add in your own chords:

  1. Open the Piano roll for your instrument (F7 or click gray space in Channel rack)
  2. Top-left arrow → Helpers → Scale highlighting → Choose root note & scale
  3. Add longer notes to highlighted keys in the Piano roll

Step 3: Add Fruity Balance & Create Volume Automation

Next, go over to the instrument Mixer track and add a Fruity Balance to the FX panel. Open Fruity Balance and right-click on the Volume knob. Select “Create automation clip. You’ll notice a new automation clip has appeared in the Playlist and in the Channel rack.

Step 4: Drag Gate Presets to the Channel Rack

In the Browser/Plugin picker, there are a bunch of gate presets we can use to quickly add gating to our automation. We’ll mess with these first. Later on, we’ll make our own presets and add them to the list for quick access whenever we need them.

  1. Open the Browser/Plugin picker
  2. Click Channel presets
  3. Click Automation clips
  4. Click Gates
  5. Drag a gate preset to the automation clip channel

Now, our gate preset is available to paste in the Playlist. Keep in mind that the gate presets will add a significant amount to the peak levels of the original signal. This is because the preset brings the Fruity Balance knob to the maximum level, which is 190% or +5.6 dB. You may want to lower the Channel volume of your instrument to compensate for the gain. Here’s what mine sounds like:

Step 5: Mix & Match Gate Automations

You’re not just limited to one gate preset. As a matter of fact, you can use as many different presets as you want. All you need to do is create a separate automation clip for each new preset.

There are a few ways to do this. The easiest way is to pick an automation clip in the Playlist and select the “Make unique” option. This clones the clip and puts it in its own channel. Then just drag a new gate preset over the cloned channel. Paste it wherever you want in the Playlist.

Step 6: Make Your Own Gates

So as we can see, we’re a little limited by the gate automation presets. It’s nice to have the flexibility to make our own. And on top of that, we can save them and use them later whenever we want. Let’s look at how to do that.

A gate is basically a series of step changes in volume from 0% to 100% with varying widths. To make our own, we’ll need a blank automation clip. You can delete the gate preset channels  (right-click → Delete) and repeat Step 3 to get a blank clip to work on.

We want to shorten it up a bit. I find that gates sound great when they’re around 1 bar long, just like the presets.

Change your Main snap to Beat, 1/2 beat, or Step depending on how fine you want your control to be. This is somewhat subjective, so using other snap intervals may work well in different situations. But these are the main ones I like to use.

Move the start point to 100%, and right-click to add a new point. Change the Mode shape to “Hold.” This produces a step change with a slight taper to stop buffer underruns and glitches.

Add in more points, and vary the distances between them. You can also experiment with different heights (volumes) for your pulses to get different effects. This is mostly trial and error, and you’ll be mashing the spacebar quite often to preview how it sounds before arriving on something you like. You can also zoom in or out to get finer control over where you’re placing the points.

Click & drag points until you get it right.

Step 7: Save Your Own Gate Presets

Once you’ve gone in and created something you like, you can save is as a preset and add it to the list in the Browser/Plugin picker.

  1. Click the Fruity Balance automation channel in the Channel rack
  2. Top-left arrow → Save channel state as
  3. Name the preset
  4. Save

Now, if you go over to the list in the Browser, you’ll see it hanging out there for you to drag onto any volume automation channel, just like the other presets. This will save you a lot of time if you use gates often.

Step 8: Toggle Gate Mix Level in the Mixer

Last thing to do is to change the gate mix level in the Mixer FX panel. This allows some of the dry signal to be mixed in with the gated signal and creates a smoother, less drastic sound.

Just navigate over to the Mixer, find your instrument Mixer track. Play around with the wet level knob on the Fruity Balance FX slot. Keep in mind that mixing in the dry signal will lower your overall peak signal levels back towards the original signal levels. You may need to adjust the volume again in the Channel rack. I find that around 40% wet sounds pretty good. This is subjective and depends on the situation though. Experiment and go with what sound right to you. Here’s the final product:

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to show you for this one. Hope you learned something, and keep on grinding. Peace out.

Spread the Love
There are currently no comments.