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How to make a trance gate effect using Ableton Live

The trance gate effect has been around for many years and is popular in many genres of music. Some synths have a built in trance gate effect, but what if the particular synth that you are using doesn’t have such an effect? Well, it’s easy to make your own and get the same results.

In this example I will be using Ableton Live, but the same technique can be applied to other DAWs if they have a gate effect which can accept a sidechain input.

This is the trance gate effect created in this article

First we need to create some chords or notes which the gate effect will be applied to. In this example I’m using a pad preset from Sylenth1 and some simple chords to demonstrate.

Next we need to set up the trigger gate channel. Live’s Impulse loaded with a kick drum or cymbal is ideal for this purpose. Load up Impulse on a new midi channel and then load in a suitable sample.

Next we create the gate midi pattern. It’s best to use 16th or 32nd notes, or a mixture of both work best for the classic trance gate sound. You will probably find this stage easier if you have your percussion playing so that you can make a rhythm that works well with the groove of your track.

The trance gate is made using a mixture of 16th and 32nd notes in Ableton Live's midi editor

Mute the gate channel so that the trigger sound can’t be heard and then load Live’s gate effect onto your synth channel. Activate the sidechain and then select audio from your trigger channel. You should now hear the gate effect. Tweak the gate’s settings to get the kind of sound that you are after.

This technique also works well with vocals and other sounds.

So there it is, a simple and effective way to add a trance gate effect to any synth or sample.

You may also find these articles helpful

How to make gated vocals using a synth as a trigger

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