Here is a noise gate module built around LM13600. You can use the newer and better LM13700, i chose LM13600 because i already have a few of them from National Semiconductor. I use these modules to clean up sound in audio surveillance applications but also can be used with music instruments like electric guitars.
In the past i was using a FET transistor, mostly 2SK30, as a variable resistor and create a voltage controlled… voltage divider hehe. However better performance comes from using a VCA (Voltage Controlled Amplifier) not to mention the versatility of having the entire module in the form of a integrated circuit.
In LM13600 we have two operational transconductance amplifiers giving the posibility to varry the current through the input stage long tail pair. Its input will be a voltage and output will be current so you can find these devices named OTA (Operational Transconductance Amplifier) or VCCS (Voltage Controlled Current Source). They are very handy when you need to adjust gain of an amplifier dynamically.
In a noise gate we want to pass all signal with an amplitude higher than a settable threshold and block all signal with lower amplitude. What we’ll do is take the input signal rectify it, compare the result with our threshold and then modify the gain of the amplifier based on the comparator output.
As a first step i built the VCA around LM13600 as i wanted to check how the amplification works. You can see the schematic (pretty much the one from datasheet) and construction. I was able to trace the gain vs control voltage plot and it shows a pretty linear function.
Looking at the above chart we can see that if our input signal amplitude is below noise gate threshold then we need to set the control voltage to -15V (with +/-15V supply) and if it is above threshold ideally we will need 15V control voltage.
To rectify the input signal i use a two opamp schematic fairly common discussed on ESP website and other materials. The DC voltage is then compared with our threshold with a LM393 dual comparator. Supply voltage for the LM393 is +/-15V so output will swing close to these values providing the control voltage.
Before the rectifier you can see an amplifier, this is used to adjust sensitivity. Threshold is set by R16. C3 C4 are very important as they reduce artifacts caused by ripple in the rectified signal. Even so as it is there are a few issues when the signal level is equal to the set threshold level but solution for this will be presented later.
The voltage from the LM393 output can be passed through and integrator and thus adjust the attack time. This can be a very cool effect for musical instruments as it provides a swell effect similar to a volume pedal.
Circuit works of course will be improved pretty much in next articles so hope you will visit again. Below you can see a scope trace with TrueRTA (the scope feature is free). You can see pink noise signal and only peaks with an amplitude higher than my threshold are passing through.
Thank you for visiting.