Expanders and gates either increase your dynamic range or — in the case of the gate — completely get rid of unwanted sounds that fall below a set level threshold. In live mixing, they are perfect for things such as keeping the vocal mic from amplifying the drums when the singer isn't singing, or using the side-chain inputs to gently duck the rhythm guitar when the sax rips into a solo.
In a live situation, it's important to have a visual reference for what your expander is doing. Many expanders have at least a few LED indicators to let you know the relative strength of your signal and when the gate is being triggered. On the other hand, some manufacturers force you to use a “set it with your ears, not your eyes” philosophy by providing little more than knobs and a light to let you know it's on. Both styles work extremely well. You just have to pick the one that best fits your needs.
Most expanders and gates have either 2 or 4 channels, with XLR or 1/4 inch inputs and outputs. The channels can be used individually or in stereo pairs. Some even double as a compressor. Most models come with side-chain I/O, but if that's an essential feature for you, double-check that it's included before purchasing. Some of your more advanced options include low-pass and high-pass triggering, as well as proprietary triggering algorithms that add a particular quality to the way the gate operates.
Whether you need a basic stereo expander/gate or a 4 channel unit with side-chain I/O, low-pass and fully variable high-pass trigger filters, and unique proprietary trigger algorithms, we have just the unit for you. The main thing to consider when choosing your expander/gate is what its intended use will be. This makes it easier to pick a unit with attack and release characteristics that are suited to your intended task.
Expanders and gates are fairly straight forward tools, but understanding and differentiating the menu of features and proprietary enhancements can be daunting. We go to great lengths to give our Sales Engineers plenty of hands-on training with the gear that we carry. Let us help you understand the various characteristics of the models we sell. Tell us the problem you are trying to solve, and we will help you find the expander/gate that fits your needs. Learn More
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.