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Logic Tutorial: Program gated vocal effects

“Stop telephoning me-e-e-e-e-e,” sang Lady Gaga. So we stopped, and figured out how to achieve that effect by ourselves

Originally designed to block out excessive noise from the front and end parts of a recording, a noise gate normally prevents sound from passing through it until a pre-set volume threshold is reached. In a gate equipped with a sidechain input however, the gate can be opened by a second source, allowing the creation of a vast array of rhythmic effects.

The classic gated vocal effect harks back to the days when engineers would produce a rhythmic sequence reminiscent of an on/off switch being flicked rapidly in time with the track. The effect is currently enjoying something of a renaissance thanks to the likes of The Black Eyed Peas, and Logic provides all the tools to recreate it.

Step 1: Isolate vocal
In your Logic project, select the track containing the audio that you want to apply the gate effect to, and hit Cmd+D to create a duplicate track.

Step 2: Cut it out
Snip your intended victim out with the Scissors tool and Option+drag it down onto the duplicate track to create a copy. Mute the original with the Mute tool.

Step 3: Insert gate
Click+hold the first empty insert slot in the new track’s Inspector and select Dynamics>Noise Gate>Mono. Choose ‘Fast Gate’ from the plug-in’s preset menu.

Step 4: Create trigger track
To trigger the gate, you need to program a custom sequence of notes. Click the ‘+’ button above the track headers and create a new software instrument track.

Step 5: Record trigger sequence
Using the default Electric Piano preset, record your trigger sequence by playing it in with a MIDI keyboard or other controller.

Step 6: Quantize triggers
Quantize the note timing of your sequence by choosing the required resolution from the Quantize menu in the region parameter box.

Step 7: Send triggers
Set the output of the trigger track to an unused bus, and set the output of that bus to No Output, to prevent the trigger notes actually being heard.

Step 8: Set sidechain input
Double-click the gate’s insert slot to reveal its control panel. In the top-right corner, set the sidechain input to the same bus you selected in the previous step.

Step 9: Adjust threshold
Set the gate threshold so the yellow activity light coincides with your triggers. That’s when the triggers are opening the gate and the effect should be audible.

Click on the annotations below to zoom in.

Gated Vocals Explained
Gated Vocals Explained