5 Steps to Better Sounding Snare Drums

No matter what style of music you’re working on, the snare drum is always one of the more challenging pieces to the puzzle.

Sometimes you need a very fat, heavy snare drum sound. Or maybe just a light brush sound. No matter what type of snare you’re looking for, there are 5 basic things to remember.

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to getting great sounding snare drums in every production style.

1. Layer your snare drums. It’s very rare that a single snare track will produce exactly the sound you’re looking for. Instead of trying to massage a “close” sounding snare into place with a bunch of EQ and compression, try to find a different sound that will add to your original snare and put them both together to get the perfect snare.

2. Keep the dynamics in your snare parts. Even the most compressed snare drums need dynamics in order to sound real/interesting. Whether you’re programming or just mixing the tracks, be sure to keep the dynamics alive.

3. Set the right attack time on your compressor. To keep some of the transients alive, use a slower attack on the compressor – this will give your snares a more natural sound.

4. Be careful with the reverb. Sometimes it can sound perfect to have a nice full chamber reverb for the snare. But sometimes it’s way better to just mix it in with the kit and send the whole thing to a room verb, or use a room mic. Let your ears be the judge, and compare to commercial recordings in the same genre to guide you!

5. Don’t cut out the body or sizzle with EQ. This is often times the most common mistake with snare drums. Be sure to keep all of the body (depending on the snare, above 100 Hz or so), and the sizzle (anywhere from 5 kHz to 20 kHz). This full spectrum is important in getting a great snare sound.

So there you go. Let us know in the comments if you have any tips for getting great sounding snares as well!

3 thoughts on “5 Steps to Better Sounding Snare Drums”

    • The positioning of the snare mic can have a lot to do with that – I like to position the top snare mic (probably an SM57, which is a cardioid polar pattern) so that the mic is rejecting the hi-hat – basically pointing the back of the mic at the hi-hat. This is reject the maximum amount of hi-hat sound, although there will probably be just a little bit still bleeding in. Gating your snare track is another way to cut out unwanted sound from other parts of the kit!

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