Mixdown Tutorial Part 2 - Snare Drum
Context in the mix
Naturally with us starting with the bass drum, the next logical step would be the snare! If the bass drum was the part that set the foundation of the rhythm then the snare is the part that actually sets the pace of the music. It has two main parts, a lower 'thump' and a higher end 'snap' which extends the majority of the frequency range, this can make it a little trickier to get right so let's begin!
The main fundamental with regards to the snare would have to be around the 200Hz area or so. This area is very prominent in a lot of commercial mixes out there and if boosted can sometimes add a bit more punch in the low end. If the snare already sounds a little muddy before this area is boosted then try sweeping around that area with an eq and then notch out any 'rogue frequencies' before attempting a broader boost instead.
The 'snap' in the snare drum usually is found up near KHz and boosting this can usually add a bit more life to a dull sounding snare drum. As well as this a high shelf can also have the same effect.
Bare in mind eq can only go so far with getting the right sound. If you are having major issues and this is a dance production then it may be worth looking into trying a different sample or layering one on top to get the right tone.
Just like the bass drum with regards dynamics with the snare it's usually trying to strike a balance between a sound that has 'weight' to is and can 'pop' through the mix.
Again, downward compression will help create the weight here. One thing to point out though is that because the snare tends to deal with a lot higher frequencies you can tend to get away with a bit more distortion / saturation without the sound breaking up, so try experimenting with these techniques to get a more aggressive sound.
Transient shapers are great for dull sounding snares that need a bit more 'pop' to them. They help to cut through the mix, overdoing this however will leave a sound that is very 'clicky' and 'brittle'.
Misc Tips / Tricks
- Parallel compression as well as parallel distortion sound great on a snare drum.
- If you decide to layer up different samples for a snare drum try other sounds such as hand claps, rim shots, white noise etc. These can give a more varied tone.
A lot of techniques that can be applied to processing a snare drum were covered last time in the bass drum tutorial so it's worth a read if you haven't done so already.
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