Snare Drum Mixing Tips

Published: 27th October 2010
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In my belief, one of the most powerful instruments in the genre of rock drums is the snare drum. If you hear a super-duper rock song, you will definitely hear an excellent, powerful snare drum.



Thinking back, my favorite bands with persuasive and unique snare drums where Genesis, who can forget that gated reverb effect perfected by Phil Collins. Van Halen had a distinct snare drum sound and one of my most favorites is Led Zeppelin.



How do these snare drum sounds get created? They get produced with the variety of snare drum used, the kind of microphones used for the top and bottom of the snare drum, the type of pre-amps used for those microphones, and they get defined by the positioning of those microphones. There are added recording techniques, and mixing techniques that make for a wonderful snare drum sound.



I think we should start with EQ. Eq for a snare drum will be different for each and every song. So these standard settings that I'm going to be giving you are just that, general standard settings. Yuo will need to use your ears to dial in the correct EQ settings. do not fall into the trap of thinking there are set settings for EQ, compression and other audio effects, because there is not!



Attempt using a high-pass filter set at 120Hz and under. 120Hz is a terrific starting point and then just slide the filter downward for desired cut.

Boost between 150 - 300Hz. This will fatten the snare drum up for you.

Try cutting around 400 - 900Hz to cut out some boxiness low end.

Boost between 5 - 7kHz for a crispness.

A boost between 9 - 15kHz will add some nice brightness to the snare. Just make sure it doesn't interfere with the vocals in that range.



For heavy snare sound: Boost +3dB around 100Hz, Q= 1.0, Cut -5dB around 2000Hz Q= 1.4, Boost +3dB 8000 Hz Q = 1.0

For a crisp and commanding snare drum sound: Cut -3dB around 200Hz Q= 1.0, Boost 3dB at around 8000Hz Q=1.0



If your going to mess around with these settings, you will need a parametric EQ. Parametric EQ's have a setting for the Q.



Here are some very general compression settings:

Attack: 20ms to 60ms

Release: 30ms to 100ms

Threshold: - This depends on the strength of your signal. It can be set at -6dB or -16dB, depending on your signals dB level.

Compression ratio: 2:1 to 6:1



Pan settings for a snare drum. Most people pan their snare drums dead center. But in reality, the snare is not dead center. Its either off to the left or right, depending on if the drummer is left handed or right handed. If the drummer is right handed, you should pan the snare drum slightly off to the right and if your a left handed drummer, pan it slightly to the left. When I say slightly, I mean something like 5 to 7 units, so it will read +5 or -5, depending on if the drummer is right or left handed.



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