Behringer is a name that is popping up more and more frequently in guitar circles. They’ve become infamous for their huge range of affordable clones of famous FX pedals, both current and discontinued.
One of their most popular pedals is the Behringer NR300 Noise Reducer pedal. This is a noise gate pedal designed to help players keep noise caused by high gain effects to a minimum. The vast majority of Behringer’s FX sound incredibly similar to the models they’re based upon, but is it possible that this Noise Reducer pedal can match the performance of the Boss NS-2 pedal that inspired it? Keep on reading to find what we learned.
Who Is This Pedal For?
The Behringer NR300 Noise Reducer, like most noise gates, is primarily marketed towards players who have intermediate to advanced experience.
The fact that it sells at such a low pricepoint also means that it has universal appeal amongst guitarists looking to avoid overpaying for pedals.
Noise reducers are usually used by guitarists who either run high gain effects, or those who have a lot of pedals daisy chained together. Both of these situations can result in a lot of unwanted noise, which in sufficient quantity can really degrade overall tone. Additional noise can really crowd a mix and make it difficult for anybody to cut through, which is far from ideal in any band.
Noise suppressors like this Behringer pedal are also great for single coil guitars, which inherently feature 60 cycle hum. A noise gate can go a long way to reducing this interference.
Appearance / Features / Controls
It’s pretty well accepted that the NR300 Noise Reducer is a clone of the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, but it is nice to see that Behringer didn’t copy it lock, stock and barrel. Color wise, it is a similar shade of grey to the Boss version, but besides that, the NR300 does have some significant differences.
First of all, like other Behringer pedals, it comes in a plastic exterior housing. This is one of the more controversial points of Behringer pedal engineering, with many guitarists writing off plastic pedals before ever even getting hands on with one. After a thorough testing process, we can say that they are well made, and although not as hard wearing as metal, they are still impact resistant, and definitely sturdy enough to gig with.
Additionally, unlike the Boss NS-2, which has 2 rotary dials plus a dial style switch for mute and reduction, the Behringer has 2 rotary dials and a toggle switch for mute and reduction. The rotary dials control threshold and decay.
With the mute mode engaged, the signal is muted when the pedal is set to off. When in reduction mode with the pedal set to off, the noise gate is bypassed, and a clean signal passes through. In both modes, with the pedal set to on, the noise gate is activated, reducing the interference caused by high gain and pedalboard interference.
The threshold dial controls the threshold level. This level will block out any sound below the setting, and for anything higher, the noise gate will open to allow sound to pass through. The decay dial controls how much time elapses before the noise gate closes after being open.
To intentionally introduce noise into the line in order to test the NR300’s effectiveness, we hooked up an American Player Stratocaster to a Wampler Dracarys High Gain distortion pedal, as well as the Behringer noise gate.
We started the test with the reduction mode on and the pedal in the off position. The gain was set high on our distortion pedal, and the noise was extremely noticeable! The next step, of course, was to turn on the pedal and check out the results. The decay and threshold were set to noon to begin with, and as expected the noise was reduced, but not eliminated.
We then experimented with turning down the decay control. With this dial at the lowest setting, we found that the sound was extremely choppy, and almost sounded like a synth. When we dialed up the decay, we got a much softer, more organic sound as the noise gate took longer to close.
Next, we altered the threshold settings. Reducing the threshold resulted in the most dramatic reduction in noise, although, it did have a fairly artificial tonal quality when at this setting. With the threshold set to maximum, we actually noticed very little reduction in noise at all.
For the final part of the test, we reset the dials to noon and put the pedal in mute mode. As we turned off the pedal, we got absolute silence. This is a great function if you perform live and there are sections in which you don’t play, or between songs during the set, for example.
Other Noise Reduction Pedals to Consider
Of course, there are dozens of other great compressor sustain pedals to choose from. If the Behringer CS400 doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in, maybe consider one of these alternatives.
The Boss NS-2 is an industry standard noise gate pedal. As far as functionality goes, it is identical to the NR300, although it does come with additional benefits. First of all, it is made with a metal case, and the battery compartment is much easier to access than the Behringer. Additionally, it has a more natural sounding noise gate. It’s downside is that it is around 4 times the price of the Behringer, but if the additional features speak to you, it’s a great choice.
The MXR Smart Gate is one of the simplest noise gates to operate, yet, it is also one of the most effective. It features “Intelligent Gate Speed”, which instinctively reacts to how you play. If you’re holding notes, the gate closes slowly to prolong sustain. If you’re playing fast power chords, the gate closes rapidly, killing noise and helping you to maintain clarity. It comes at a premium price point, but it’s absolutely worth the extra money if you’re looking for a high end pedal.
If you’re starting to jam with friends and you are serious about crafting the perfect sound, a noise gate like the Behringer NR300 is a must have pedal. This pedal does a great job of killing the hiss, hum, and other sources of interference that crowd your mix and reduce the quality of your tone. It might not be the most powerful noise reducing pedal on the market, but it still does give a significant reduction in unwanted noise, and at this price point, you won’t find a better option.