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.