I used to think that gates were all the same. I bought an inexpensive quad gate years ago and have used it quite a bit for cleaning up a bit of tape hiss or amp noise during mixing. When I tried to use it for cleaning a vocal track I always felt it was a bit slow on opening up at the top of a phrase, and when trying to gate toms they'd open when triggered by the snare and kick or clip the beginning of a hit. I thought this was how all gates were. When I got to use the venerable DS201 I was shocked. This gate has an incredibly fast attack time, opening up so fast that it seems to be ahead of the sounds. It's also got high and low-pass filters to enable frequency-dependent gating, which can work wonders on toms and other drums. As far as abusing this gear, you can use these filters in the Listen mode as weird EQs! Other features include Key inputs, a link between the two gates and the ability to work in a gating or ducking mode (for voice over-type work). These are the best gates I've ever worked with, and I now understand why they're found in many studios. ($735 list, www.drawmer.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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