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How do pro's get the snare so loud and natural sounding?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by J-3, Feb 7, 2005.

  1. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Jul 20, 2004
    Just wondering if any of you guys have any insite on how the pros can get a snare drum so loud and natural in the mix. I was listing to a tune the other day and the snare was as loud as the vocals but the rest of the kit was barely audiable. The snare was also very clear, and natural sounding. How do they get that seperation? I'm able to get a pretty nice snare sounds but the rest of the kit is definitly up in the mix as well. I just built a device to help shield the hats from the snare mic, I hope it helps. Do pro's typicaly employ such devices?

    Here is my current snare set up.

    DW Craviotto 14"x5.5" Snare w/ ambassador top head
    1971 Ludwig !4"x^.6" Snare w/ ambassador top head ((both great sounding drums when played right))
    SM57 on top
    Rode NT2 on bottom (phase flipped)
    The 57 goes into a Great River MP2NV pre then into an EL8x distressor then to 2 Delta 1010's and Nuendo.

    Sometimes I'll use a Neumann TLM 103 on the shell or phase aligned with the 57 on top (depends on the drummer)

    For over heads I'm using 2 MK012's, card caps, set up in spaced pair or "recoerder man" setup. Allen & Heath pre's. I use waves paragraphic eq's to pull the lows and cymbal harshness out and slightly boost the snare freq's.

    YES, I know that the kit, room, gear, tuning and most importantly performer are key. What else? Any positive help appreciated.

    Thanks J-Ball
  2. lwilliam

    lwilliam Active Member

    Oct 6, 2000
    Santa Clarita, CA USA
    Home Page:
    I've triggered a snare drum sample to augment the original acoustic snare. That also helps bring it up in the mix over the other drums. As long as the transients are lined up, you can blend the sample to taste and still keep most of the subtle nuances of the original snare.

    This also works well with the BD.

    Soundreplacer works well for this, but I've also triggered samples from my DM5 using a gated aux output from the snare track. When doing it this way, you generally will have to go back and slide the track a few ms to get the transients lined back up.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    A player that really "smacks" the snare and toms without beating the crap out of the brass, is a key to getting "that sound".

    I would not compress the snare on the way to the recorder and if you do compress at mix, copy the track if possible and compress it in parallel with the uncompressed track ... Part of what you are probably hearing is the natural dynamics of the drums ..

    I almost never compress drums ...
  4. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Jul 20, 2004
    Hey thanx guys, I do use Drumagog from time to time but typicaly find that I can make it sound better if I just get it right the first time. I'm going to start making my own samples of kick snare and toms before we start tracking each time so I can use the actual drums sample if I need. I don't compress too much with the EL8x , I just like how it kinda warms it up and takes out some of the harshness of the snare.

    I do typicaly go back and line up the drum tracks is this "correct"?? I mean in the tape days they couldn't do that and they got some bitchin sounds.

    Anything thing else?
  5. xaivious

    xaivious Guest

    A little bit of this, a little bit of that

    There are lots of valid approaches to get that big snare sound. Though used a lot, I am not for midi triggers; I like it natural. Here is what I know and use most often.

    As you mentioned, you know the room, kit, etc, matters. So please excuse me, but I am just going to start there (the beginning). If you have the good snare drum that is the primary step. Some snares will cut through a mix better than others. And let's assume the drummer is at a skill level to play with strength and proper technique.

    It is really important to be sure your acoustics are in check when recording drums. I don't know your situation. But sound wave compression is the most common problem with smaller studios and drums. Drums kits are loud and rooms often rectangular with no intention to compliment sound; waves reflect, build up, and mud the mix. You mention using EQ's to remove cymbal harshness and lows in the overheads. This tell me you may have acoustics issues. I rarely EQ overheads much at all in my studio, then again I have a special room design just for drums. (feel free to check it out on my company's website). There are a lot of even homemade and low cost appraoches to acoustic adjustments. Remember, something like carpet may reduce cymbal reflection but will do nothing for the lows. And the lows are more disruptive to acoustics.

    The old saying holds true, it’s best to start with the sound you want, rather than try to fix it later.

    Try to see if you can get the snare’s sound and volume in some manner how you want it in the drum's natural room-mix. Focus on the overhead mix from that point and capturing that natural mix. Try using large diaphragm condenser overheads instead. The larger diaphragm will have better sensitivity; the overall sound is usually more full. Not to say you can't use small, it is common. I have had better experience with small capsules in bigger rooms, usually with x-y placement. I definitely prefer large. The old reliable AKG 414 works great for this (nice and clean). I often find H spacing works best with the larger capsules, compliment the desired stereo image with placement. I usually place one at each end of the L&R cymbal spread (over the Hi-hat and over the Ride).

    Then try just one mic on the top head of the snare. The classic is the SM57. I use the Beta57 at times for a little more bite (brightness). If you are looking for a narrow pattern, the Audix D1 was designed to be much like the SM57, but it is Hypercardioid. Angle it off-axis with the hi-hat if it is getting through too much. Large diaphragm and other condensers can certainly fatten the snare some at close, but you also run into lots of bleeding issues (so it depends on the drummer and setup). Either way I rarely mic the bottom of the snare. I have found such bottom placement often does more harm than good with phasing issues, bleed through (kick peddle rattle to cymbals being more on axis).

    Then use the close snare mic blended with the overheads to get the additional separation and placement of the snare in the final mix. The same way you would with any drum mix. I am not mentioning the kick and tom mics, because we are talking snare.

    Of course, the better the mic’s and pre’s, the better S/N in addition to increased separation and clarity. I recall the owner/founder of B.L.U.E. microphones once told me he likes to use the BLUE MOUSE for overheads. Over course we all can't afford a $3000 set of overheads.

    Another hint - try putting a unique snare reverb on the close snare mic, different than the reverb used on the overheads. This, if used right, can help make the snare stick out more in the mix.

    In the end it all comes down to finding out what works best for your situation (room, kit, available mic’s and pre’s, etc). Experimenting is always important, especially with placement and phase interaction.

    Hope this helps some.
  6. J-3

    J-3 Active Member

    Jul 20, 2004
    Hey James thanks so much for the reply. I have experimented much with most of what you mention. I still havn't experimented with xy overhead placement though. The shroud I made for the snare mic helped a lot last night to keep the hats out. Actually, I'm getting really great drum sounds and have finaly learned how to set up to compliment each drummers technique OR go for the sound they want. I guess what I was curious about is on some pro recordings the snare is SUPER LOUD and the rest of the kit very quiet. I personally don't like that mix as much but I'm just trying to prepare for the instance that I have someone coming into the studio and wanting that sound. I have learned to be way more judicial with compressing and eqing drums (and everything else in the mix) and found that helps tremendously. You can view my rooms at the link below if you wanna see the space I'm using. I'm building portable traps to put around the kit to help keep some of the low end reflections in check, I've experimented with that before and it really helped. It made the drums more clear and got rid of some of the BS sounds that I dont need. Thanks again for the help guys. Anyone else wanna chime in on kool snare or drum techniques?? Things like the "re-snare" technique etc??
  7. Marcus Black

    Marcus Black Guest

    I´d say it´s a lot in the mastering. In a mix the snare usually peaks a little (or a lot...) above the rest of the material and when it´s compressed and limited at mastering it´s still loud but sounds more "in place".
  8. littleprince

    littleprince Guest

    Wow~~ it's too hot discussion for drum recording in forum

    This is my way. I don't like use triggers cause it's not natural and can't capture resonance of other device.
    So I use this way only bad drummer.
    I think most of impotant is technic of drummer.
    I don't think more important mic than other factors may be more important things are position of mics and drum head and addtional accessory(tip of drum stick, stick-nowadays come out steel stick, mute device, beater etc...)
    I like to use something like sulg. it will help drummer's hit balance.
    oh~ also tunning is very important.
    My stuff is basic mics.
    SM57 for tom and snare, beyerdinamic's M69 for F.T, C100S for over head - but I think anything will good If small diaphragm condecer mic.
    AKG D112 for kick(I had used RE-20 but I didn't find difference between D112 and RE-20.

    These are same drum, same outboard, same room, same mics.













    some of songs are rough mix.
  9. Methlab

    Methlab Guest

    keep in mind in mastering, the guitars will get bigger and the snare will get smaller. So when you mix, you want the snare a little louder then you would feel comfortable with because after it gets crushed, it will sit perfect. this is a rule that really applies to mixes with big guitars.

    also, a lot of producers use drumagog and samples on the snare. this enables you to control the sound of the snare using layers.

    EQing the snare correctly is also very key. I use a tape warmer to make it sound fatter also.

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