Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal
TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate Pedal
EHX Silencer Noise Gate Guitar Pedal
Table of Contents
Unwanted noise in the guitar rig is a common problem. While a slight hum can be expected when you plug your guitar in, no player wants to deal with an ongoing interference issue. Not only does it affect the quality of the music, it can throw off your concentration.
Ridding your rig of its annoying buzz can often be as easy as adding a noise gate pedal to your kit.
There are many different pedals on the market and, because of that wide variety, figuring out which one will work best for you is no easy feat. That’s where our list of the 10 best noise gate pedals comes in.
Not only will we look at the best options available to you, but will also explain how you can get the most out of them. So, let’s dive in and discover the best pedals on the market.
The 10 Best Noise Gate Pedals:
Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal
Garnering the top spot on our list, the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor is a powerful noise gate pedal boasting features not found in many other models.
This noise gate pedal has a typical Threshold control, but also includes decay control that will adjust how long it takes for the filtered signal to completely fade out. This gives you more control over how the pedal attenuates the signal.
Standout features include the dual-mode operation of reduction and mute. In reduction mode, the base signal passes through unfiltered and, hitting the footswitch, activates the noise reduction.
In mute mode, the noise suppression is on constantly and the signal is completely muted when the pedal is activated.
The Boss NS-2 also includes a ‘send return’ effects loop that’s great for using other external pedals to get as natural a sound as possible. Overall, this is one of the better noise gate pedals available in both features and simplicity.
TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate Guitar Pedal
The Sentry may be one of the most flexible noise gates on this list, which is pretty impressive considering the price is in line with other models that don’t have anywhere near the same feature set.
Starting off, there are three knobs for adjustments: Threshold, damp (intensity of the gate), and decay (the length of time the gate remains open after the signal drops below the threshold).
Several operating modes are available as well: Hiss (for lower-level noise), and gate (a traditional ‘hard gate’ that stops noise dead in its tracks).
Tone print is the icing on this already impressive cake. This proprietary technology is great for effects creation via the free desktop and/or smartphone editors. Integrating it into the Sentry is a huge plus.
Where most noise gate pedals are somewhat adjustable, TonePrint provides a multiband level of control. Specific frequencies can be targeted for noise suppression, allowing you to tailor the gate for unique situations.
It even has an effects loop built-in to expand the utility of the Sentry and a true bypass design, to ensure minimal tone loss.
EHX Silencer Noise Gate Guitar Pedal
The Silencer from EHX is a top-notch unit with features that go beyond what many simple noise gate pedals provide.
Three control knobs allow you to customize the noise reduction to your particular tastes. The Threshold knob sets the gate trigger point when the effect kicks in, and the reduction control allows for a -70dB to +4db range to filter out any unwanted noise.
The third release knob sets a timer for how long the noise gate will stay inactive after the signal level falls below the threshold set point. This is helpful for times when you want your guitar sound to decay naturally on its own without getting attenuated.
A built-in effects loop with 1/4-inch send and return jacks is a smart choice when using other effects pedals, and it adds to the overall flexibility of the silencer.
The metal enclosure is rugged and meant for heavy use as well. All in all, the EXH Silencer does exactly what it says on the tin.
MXR M-135 Smart Gate Guitar Pedal
The MXR M-135 Smart Gate is a very effective noise suppression pedal with a simple controller design that offers a lot of options.
The Trigger Level knob sets the threshold control as expected. The other controls are what sets the M-135 Smart Gate apart from the pack. The pushbutton activates a ‘hi trigger range,’ which can be really handy when you have an excessive amount of noise to get rid of.
The slider switch (noise band cut) lets you select from three different attenuation modes. The first is ‘hiss,’ which is best used with instruments that accent higher frequencies.
Next is the ‘mid’ setting; here you may find it works on guitar tones that are heavier in the mid-range.
The ‘full’ setting runs the gamut from taking care of AC hum and line noise to anything else that’s generated from any other guitar effects pedal.
Built to last, the Smart Gate is an extremely capable noise gate pedal that can be used in a variety of situations.
Electro-Harmonix XO Hum Debugger Guitar Pedal
Some pedals need to be complicated for various reasons but, personally, we prefer simple noise gate pedals. As long as it delivers top-notch noise reduction and allows you to focus on the more important stuff, what more could you ask?
The EHX XO Hum Debugger is one of the simplest pedals you’ll come across. With one mini toggle switch and a single foot switch, you can put almost any level of hum in its place. Forget knobs, this pedal is all about the basics.
You couldn’t get more basic than a single mini-toggle switch which provides strong and normal levels of attenuation and a foot switch to turn it on and off.
However, simplicity is not suitable for every scenario. While it does a perfectly good job with single coil guitar pickups, this pedal may not be the tool of choice for more complex noise situations.
For what it was intended to do, the Hum Debugger pedal is a noteworthy noise reducer that maintains a level of simplicity that’s pretty hard to beat.
Mooer Noise Killer Micro Noise Gate Pedal
Collecting guitar pedals is an addiction many of us unashamedly share. If you’re one of the guilty ones, you probably have a fairly cluttered pedalboard.
That’s not a problem with the Mooer Noise Killer Micro Noise Gate, however. It’s a fully functional noise gate pedal integrated into a micro sized package.
Its small size may be misleading when you consider the performance you can get from it. Mooer’s noise reduction feature set includes a single threshold knob with an attenuation range of -70dB to +10dB and a micro toggle switch that selects two modes: Hard and soft.
In hard mode, the reduction is relatively immediate and sharp, while soft mode is more gradual.
One negative of many noise gates is that they tend to change your tone. Since the Noise Killer is true bypass, that isn’t a concern.
This pedal may be small, but it can be just as effective as other noise gates that are double the size, and it’s easy on the bank balance too.
Donner Noise Killer Pedal
Donner continues with its reputation for producing quality guitar effects at an ultra-low price point with the Noise Killer. This pedal is surprisingly good all things considered.
A threshold knob and a hard/soft switch make up the interface design. The threshold controller lets you tweak the gate to your liking, from -70 to +10 decibels in volume.
By adjusting the switch to soft, the effect kicks in slowly tapering off the noise after playing, whereas on hard mode, the effect kicks in almost immediately.
Considering how low cost this noise gate stompbox is, the components are pretty good.
Sure, the footswitch might not be as strong as the more expensive models, but the whole unit will withstand its fair share of abuse, and arguably last a long time if well looked after.
The Donner Noise Killer is great for what it was intended to be – a simple noise gate pedal that won’t stress out your wallet. The feature set is fairly impressive when compared to the other noise gates on the market. It’s definitely worth a closer look.
Ebtech 2-Channel Hum Eliminator
The Ebtech Hum Eliminator from Morley may not be a noise gate pedal in the traditional sense, but it’s a very effective solution for one of the most annoying problems you may come across – AC hum.
The Ebtech Eliminator wasn’t intended to act as a high-end, fully-functional noise gate. It was designed to work specifically on hum problems caused by ground loops.
Many guitar amps do not have a ground lift switch, and you may also find some interference when you go direct to the PA. In these cases, the Hum Eliminator could be the perfect solution.
The setup couldn’t be any easier. All you do is plug into one of the two channels and then run the output out to your amp or direct box.
That’s it. No knobs to tweak or switches to flip.
On top of that, it features a completely passive circuit design which does not require any power to operate. It may seem a little pricey considering the lack of any expanded noise reducer features, but there’s no doubt that the Ebtech Hum Eliminator serves its intended purpose.
ISP Technologies DECIMATOR Micro Pedal
The DECI-MATE is a micro version of the full-sized ISP Technologies Decimator, which has been a favorite pedal for many guitar players. For a pedal that doesn’t look like much, you might be surprised to find out what’s under the hood.
As with some of the other pedals on our list, the controls on the DECI-MATE are pretty minimal. You’ll find only one knob to set the threshold level. There are no other switches or modes to worry about.
The simple approach on the outside cleverly hides all the goodness that is happening on the inside.
The key here is that the gate isn’t just an ‘on/off’ switch when the threshold level is reached. The DECI-MATE is powered by an adaptive circuit design that modifies the type of release based on what you’re playing.
Any hard stops are cut off right away, and long sustained notes are handled with a much smoother and extended release.
The micro-sized packaging is great for adding yet another pedal to your pedalboard when there just isn’t enough room left.
In our eyes, the DECI-MATE is one of those pedals where the combination of advanced release design plus the convenient size make it hard to beat.
TC Electronic Iron Curtain Noise Gate Pedal
The Iron Curtain noise gate pedal is a no-frills design that gets the job done.
Compared to the TC Electronic Sentry (reviewed earlier above), there’s no doubt that the Sentry has a larger feature set and may be better suited to take care of unwanted noise in particular situations. But, sometimes, all you need is a basic unit that works as intended.
You’ll find only two knobs on the Iron Curtain: Threshold and decay. There are no mode switches and no external editing capability.
What it does have is a true bypass pedal switch, and that’s a big deal. Many noise gates are not designed in that manner, and problems with tone transparency can be a negative point.
The Iron Curtain isn’t fancy, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a cost-effective noise suppression pedal that may be all you need.
What does a noise gate pedal do?
In the simplest terms, a noise suppressor pedal acts as a method to filter out (or ‘attenuate’) unwanted noise in a signal chain that’s below a certain level or set point, also known as a ‘threshold.’
A noise gate works similarly to a guitar or bass compressor pedal, but where a compressor attenuates signal above a certain threshold to control peaks and even out the sound, a noise gate is focused on a threshold below a predefined point.
In a nutshell, a noise gate eliminates all of the low-level noise that can be introduced by other guitar pedals like phasers, synths, distortion and a wide range of other factors.
What makes my signal noisy?
There a plenty of things that can affect the quality of your guitar’s signal path.
If you’re plugged in but aren’t playing there shouldn’t be much noise, If, however, your pre-amp/amp sounds like your in the middle of a shower, that’s a prime indicator you have a problem with your gear.
Here are a few possible reasons why:
If you’re the type of guitarist that uses a lot of effects pedals, they can be a main contributor to a noisy signal problem.
Gain effects such as overdrive or distortion pedals, in particular, can be a big issue. By their very definition, they boost your guitar signal which means you’ll have the noise levels punched up as well.
Some types of pickups are more prone to noise and hum than others. Single coil pickups are particularly notorious, which is the reason that humbucking pickups were designed to begin with.
There are times where a humbucker just won’t cut it. They sound thicker and warmer, and it’s hard to get that single-coil ‘snap’. If this is the case, a noise gate pedal may be the perfect addition to keep noise under control.
Most players that have a pedalboard use an AC power adapter where one wall plug can power multiple pedals using numerous leads that connect from the same power supply.
This type of noise is very common, and it can be triggered by a poor quality power supply or one that is becoming defective over time.
Do I need to get a noise gate pedal?
If your signal has a lot of unwanted noise, then the answer is yes, you should definitely get one. Noise gates are the best way to clean up your output.
As with any guitar effects pedal, there is a range of optimal settings that need to be made for it to give you peak performance. Some pedals are easy with only a threshold knob to dial-in. Others require a little more tweaking to find the perfect sound.
If the threshold is set too low, then some of the noise will still be evident when you aren’t playing. Setting it too high can constrict your sound and filter out the important parts of your signal which, potentially, can change your base tone.
While it’s true that noise gates reduce unwanted signals and overtones, it only happens when you’re not playing.
If you’re rocking out, then any of the noise that’s in your signal chain will still come through. A noise gate will not eliminate noise, rather it filters to a threshold level set point. Once you start playing, the entire signal will come through.
If you want your sound to be clean while you’re playing, then you’ll need to look at the reasons for the noise and clean those issues up separately.
Where does a noise gate pedal go in a signal chain?
There’s no one perfect answer to this because every guitar player’s signal chain can be different. That’s especially true if there are multiple effects pedals to contend with.
As a general rule of thumb, a noise gate pedal best fits after gain effects such as distortion or overdrive and before any reverb, delay pedals, or time-based effects.
This ensures the elevated noise levels that can come from using a gain device (for example, distortion, overdrive, fuzz, or a clean boost) will be taken out before they get processed by the time based units, which can further muddy your sound.
Which is best? A rack mount noise gate or a noise gate pedal?
There are pros and cons to each and, in the end, it all depends on what’s best for your situation.
A rack-mounted unit has more physical space to host a larger circuit board and, therefore, a more complex circuit design. A rack-mounted unit may also have more tweakable options and could potentially give you a cleaner signal overall, especially with some of the higher-end studio units.
Portability could become a concern if you don’t rack mount any other types of effects. It’s also difficult to adjust settings on the fly, which is why so many of these micro-sized pedals exist.
While a pedal is certainly portable, it can be prone to the same issues as other effects on your pedalboard i.e. bad patch cord connections, power supply issues. Tweakability is typically easier though because you can just bend over and twiddle the knobs whenever you need to.
Noise gate pedals aren’t as feature-packed as a rack mount unit might be. The entire circuit has to be housed in a smaller footprint and, therefore, may not fully compete with rack-mounted noise gates in the sound quality department.
Noise gate pedals can be the perfect tool to use in a lot of different situations. And you can’t do better than the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor. It delivers a great combination of features, price, and performance.
If you’re looking for a higher-end option, the TC electronic Sentry Noise Gate is the way to go. With high-end features like TonePrint, the Sentry is the best noise gate pedal out there.
Are you planning to get a noise gate pedal? Or, perhaps you’ve already found an interesting model worthy of inclusion? Have you got any noise pedal tricks up your sleeve you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.