Fat snare mixing

Here is a 10 minute video on fattening-up a mic’d snare sound from beginning to end. I used Apple’s Logic for the video, but the concepts apply to any DAW. I used Travis’ snare tracks from our recent Megadeth cover for the example. I originally made this video for Travis’ benefit, but I re-edited the whole thing because I thought it would be useful for the home-recording crowd in general.

While much of the focus today is on drum replacement and blending with samples, this video shows some techniques and tricks for getting a big, fat snare from the standard over-under mic setup alone, even if the source recording is a bit thin and ringy. Concepts covered are use of: FFT spectral analysis, EQ, compression, limiting, clipping, reverb tricks, gating, and envelope shaping.

If you want to hear before/after sound clips before watching the whole thing, they are in the last 30 seconds of the video.

(I apologize in advance for the noise in the mic… I had a fan running in the next room that I forgot about, and there was quite a commotion outside my window.)

The basic idea is to split the top snare mic into two tracks, process one slightly and the other heavily, then blend them in with the bottom mic and process them all together. This allows you to treat the attack and strainer rattle separately, and then blend them in with the original drum sound until you are happy with the results. Further processing will be necessary to make the snare sit in the mix right, but that is song-dependent, and a matter for another video.

NOTE: I used Logic’s ‘Platinum Digital’ compressor for the main sound because it is pretty transparent, so the settings would apply more broadly across different DAWs. However, IF you are using Logic, the ‘Vintage FET’ model (their UREI 1176 Silver Face clone) is so good in the place I used the Platinum Digital model that it almost feels like cheating, so use that if you have the option. ‘Rock Snare Top’ preset (with longer attack, shorter release, harder ratio, and some parallel dry signal blended in) is a good starting point.


About alexkenis

Guitarist, philosopher, tinkerer

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