The humble noise gate might not be the most exciting effect, but it’s a highly useful one in a wide range of production situations.
It’s this potential for versatility that Kjaerhus are seeking to exploit with Golden Audio Gate (or GAG-1 as we’ll refer to it from now on). Based on their CPU-light ACLM technology - and the latest addition to their ‘Golden’ plug-in range - this is designed to balance a characterful analogue sound with the transparency that every gate needs.
GAG-1 comprises a main section with threshold and envelope controls, a sidechain with built-in filter, and a dynamics section. A mono variant of the GAG-1 is also included for use on mono tracks or in hosts that don’t support more than two track inputs.
It’s pleasing that the designers of GAG-1 have paid close attention to detail. The interface follows the same intuitive style as Kjaerhus’ other Golden series effects, and the controls feature clear visual feedback with an intelligently predictable effect on the sound. And what a sound it is: this may be a fairly utilitarian plug-in but it has a genuinely musical quality.
The gate performs well with vocals, though the addition of look-ahead would prevent some slightly abrupt attack times. However, Kjaerhus maintain that the gate works fine as is, and the criteria for the Golden series means only real-time, analogue emulation plug-ins are allowed.
The decay stage sounds neat and tight, with the controls providing significant flexibility. Isolating a kick drum from a recording with some unwanted spill is a breeze - a short attack that caused clicks with Waves’ C1 gave GAG-1 no problems at all.
Unfortunately, gated reverbs are a slightly different matter. GAG-1 does jitter on some reverbs with a very long decay, though when everything is reconfigured and a suitable threshold set, some very usable and controllable results can be achieved.
Ultimately, we think Kjaerhus have achieved their goal of creating an affordable gate that’s suitable for any application. Whether you’re in serious need of noise control or you’re simply after another high-quality and creative dynamics tool, GAG-1 is currently one of the best options there is.