Expanders and gates are an integral part of music production. However, time and time again I see students implementing them poorly.
The first decision that you should make is whether you need to use one in the first place. Expanders and gates are less important than they used to be, this is because of the extended functionality available in modern DAWs. In a DAW it is simple to splice, crop, cut regions of audio or automate sections. Extended tools are available in some DAWs which make it even easier to manipulate sections of audio such as clip gain and strip silence macros.
In practice doing these tasks offline in a DAW often gives you more control, flexibility and precision. I find that this eradicates my need for an expander/gate 90% of the time.
Despite the advantages of using a DAW to achieve these effects. There are still times I prefer to use expansion/gating:
- For kick and snare drum,
- For side-chaining purposes,
- To reduce noise accumulated from many instances of analogue...