What if there was a way to drastically reduce the amount of stage noise in your vocal mics?
We’ve all been there: the band is playing and you’ve got a great mix going that sounds amazing… and then you unmute the vocal mics. Suddenly, your mix is FILLED with stage noise. There’s bleed from the PA, from drums, cymbals, guitar amps, and more… it’s a mess.
(make sure to use the coupon code “ProAudio” if you purchase an Optogate to save $10)
Optogate is the perfect solution to all that stage mic bleed. It’s a small unit that plugs into any condenser or dynamic microphone and uses an infrared sensor to detect when there’s a person standing in front of the mic. If it detects someone, the mic behaves exactly like it would normally… but if no one is standing in front of the mic, the sensor activates a -42dB gate that effectively mutes the microphone until someone actually stands in front of it to sing/speak.
I’ve tried LOTS of solutions for gating vocal mics. Traditional gates/expanders tend to be unreliable and will open up unintentionally during loud parts of worship. Even solutions like the Waves PSE (a plugin built specifically for this purpose) are only useful for a few dB of volume reduction before the start to sound unnatural.
Because Optogate doesn’t rely on sound level to activate its gate, it’s completely immune to all these common problems! When the singer moves their head in front of the mic, the gate opens. When they move away, the gate closes automatically. It’s really as simple as that.
Recently at my home church, we had a situation where we wanted the drummer to be able to have a talkback mic. Our drummer operates our playback/tracks computer so its good for him to have a way to communicate with the rest of the band in case something isn’t working properly.
As you can imagine, having an open mic beside the drums is… “problematic” to say the least. Either you’re dealing with a MASSIVE amount of bleed from the drum kit, or you’ve got a complex solution with a manual switch or a foot switch that the drummer has to operate to activate/unmute his mic.
Fortunately, I had an Optogate! I plugged the Optogate into an SM58 and set it next to the drums, so all the drummer had to do was lean over slightly and the infrared sensor would detect him and unmute the mic. It works perfectly.
Since then, we’ve implemented other talkbacks for our keys player and a side-stage mic that our worship leader can use to talk to the band. I put Optogates on both of those mics and the results have been perfect. It gives a clear, open talkback channel when we need it, and pristine silence when no one is using it, all without any complicated foot switches or unreliable gates.
There are a few different Optogate models available. The one that I’ve been using most is the Optogate PB-05 M. This is Optogate’s flagship model which reduces the volume by 42dB when the gate is active. In my experience this works perfectly and really helps clean up excess stage noise. It also has a button to deactivate the gate just in case the singer wants to have it open all the time. I haven’t had to ever use that switch, but it’s nice to know there’s a way to deactivate the gate just in case something goes wrong.
Next up is the PB-05 D which is essentially identically to the “M” version except it only reduces the volume by 16dB. I’ll be honest… I was a little skeptical if that would be enough to make a difference, but let me tell you, it works great! This model is great if your band is using in-ear monitors because it reduces the jump in volume when the gate deactivates. Especially if a singer has their voice fairly loud in their in-ears, it may be jarring to experience their mic suddenly activating as they step up to the mic stand. The 16dB reduction is the perfect compromise that still cleans up stage volume considerably but also keeps the mic sounding “natural” for the singer.
Next in line is the PB-05 E which is their “economy” model that exclusively works with dynamic microphones. It looks and works essentially the same as the “M” with -42dB of gain reduction, but it doesn’t pass phantom power. Less circuitry means a lower price point, and if you’re using mics like an SM58 or sE V7 or… any other non-phantom powered mic, this is likely all you need.
Last but not least is the Optogate PB-07. So this one… is genius. The PB-07 has the infrared sensor mounted on the side of the unit, instead of on the top.
“Why would you want that?” you might ask. The answer: podium mics.
If you’ve ever had an event with multiple speakers stepping up to a podium or a mic stand, you know how difficult it can be to manage an open mic in that situation.
The PB-07 mounts sideways on the mic stand and aims the sensor outward so that when someone walks up, the gate opens and the mic operates as normal. This has come in really handy for me when we’ve hosted funerals and other events at our church where multiple speakers are using one mic and they’re not necessarily getting as close to the mic element as they should. I just set up the Optogate PB07 on the mic stand and regardless of if they’re complete facing the microphone or not, the infrared sensor triggers off their body and still works flawlessly.
Using Optogate has been an absolute game changer for my workflow on stage and for events with multiple speakers. If you’re looking for a way to clean up your stage noise without compromising clarity, ease of use, or reliability, Optogate is the best way to make it happen!
Learn more and get your Optogate at https://optogatemicswitch.com/
Optogate Online is the primary distributor for Optogate products throughout North and South America and they’ve also generously provided our readers with the discount code “ProAudio” which will save $10 on any Optogate product! they also honor tax exempt status which is great for churches, and offer free shipping!