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How should I process this snare recording?

Discussion in 'Drums' started by gunsofbrixton, May 26, 2010.

  1. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    Hi all,

    I have some issues with some snare tracks I recently recorded and would like to hear your opinions and suggestions for processing them during mixdown. This is one of the first bands I ever recorded, so don't be too harsh with me.

    Here is the recording I am referring to: hammerton - Snare trembling - SoundCloud

    This is a mix of the top and bottom snare mics. I was using a Beyer 201 on top and a 57 at the bottom, both going into a Focusrite ISA pre.

    First of all: What do you think of the snare sound? Should I have gotten rid of the resonance at about 300 Hz before recording?

    Given that this is a rock band, I think the snare drum should be way punchier. Do you think I did something wrong with mic placement? Could I have made the sound punchier with a different preamp? Or is it just the drummer playing too softly?

    Another issue is that if I send this track through a 1176-style compressor to add some punch I inevitably make the ghost notes, snare rolls and unwanted snare vibrations much louder, which I don't want. How can I compress the louder hits without making everything else louder as well? I have gotten decent results with a gate set to a range of 9 dB. If I then compress the track by 9 dB I will basically have the same level differences between the main hits and the ghost notes as on the original recording, but the main hits will be compressed. A gate with a range set to infinity won't work because there's just too much going on on this snare track. I was also thinking of copying the entire track and manually gating the copied track, so that only the main snare hits remain. I could then compress the copied track and play it together with the original. Are there any other solutions?

  2. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Did you invert the phase of the bottom snare mic/track?
  3. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    first of all the snare is not tuned properly, second the drummer is not really hitting that snare like he's in a rock band!!
    why would you want to gate this snare ESPECIALLY with the performance being so intricate with all the ghost notes and such, your gonna suck the life right out of the players performance!!!!! DONT GATE IT!!!
    your problem is this: you cant sample it (too many ghost notes), your gonna have to eq it to fit the song and to get rid of that awful ring that is has. the compressor is going to make it and everything associated with the snare louder. its up to you as to how loud you want to make it but i would get to crazy. if you have to bring everything else down to get the snare into the mix better then do so.
    as SOAPY suggested, anytime you do that micing technique to a snare you must flip phase on the bottom snare. have you tried to NOT put the bottom mic in the mix??!!?? that may be your problem too. i really NEVER use a bottom snare mic, just cant stand the sound....
    good luck
  4. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    Yes I did invert the phase of the top mic. Together with the overheads, it sounded better this way than when I inverted the phase of the bottom mic. I tried to leave the bottom mic out, but I kind of like the sound of the snares.

    When I said gate, I meant just to attenuate the soft hits by around 6 dB. This way I can shape the transients of the loud notes better and it still sounds natural (to me at least).

    I think I need to take a course in drum tuning! So many drummers in amateur bands don't know how to properly tune their drums and I don't have the knowledge yet to do it for them.

    Where do you think the ring comes from? Is it really a matter of tuning or should we have damped the beater head more?
  5. planet10

    planet10 Active Member

    the out of phase mic will be the bottom not the top so invert the bottom one only.
    check your wav draws to see which way the transients are going, the first transient should be moving upward, if it is not its out of phase.

    the bottom mic if you like it keep it.

    dont worry about shaping the ghost notes, they are there for dynamics. if you compress the snare right, only the loud transients will be hit by the compressor thus allowing you to bring up the make up gain and output a few db more to suit the mix and having the ghost notes a bit more distinct.

    the ring is a combination of a few things, the shell, the heads, the tuning of the top and the tuning of the bottom. all snare drums ring, they are supposed to, what i meant was the ring in your snare was because it was out of tune. there IS a difference. you dont want the snare or any drum to make the "buuuooong" sound just "boom'' with no difference in the pitch as it rings out

    wanna learn how to tune drums, youtube.......i kind of have the luxury of goin gto NAMM each year and actually talking to great drummers about how they tune for their sessions.
    i apply all that they tell me
  6. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    If the first transient is moving downward the signal is out of phase? Are you sure? Then half of my tracks are out of phase!!

    Check the picture I attached. The 3 wide tracks are overhead right, snare top and snare bottom. On the overhead track, the first transient of the snare is pointing down, just as on the snare top track. On the snare bottom track the first transient is pointing upward. Why would the overheads be out of phase?

    So what I did is I inverted the phase of the snare bottom mic (not the snare top mic like I said yesterday) because this seemed to sound better together with the overheads. Looking at the picture, should I have moved any of the tracks in one direction or another? It seems to me the snare bottom track may be a few samples delayed in relation to the snare top track.

    Attached Files:

  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Ignore the waveform for the OH track for now - it's capturing a much different spectrum than the snare mics.

    Draw vertical lines through both snare tracks (in your mind, at least). Notice that the peaks are inverted?
    While they are not identical captures, these "opposite" waveforms are likely causing some cancellations.
    Inverting the bottom snare track will create "same" or even waveforms, which tend to be additive.

    If you're still not happy w/ your OH sound after this, it means there was a problem w/ their placement -
    that is, their position relative to the snare is creating phase issues - but issues completely different than the top/bottom snare mics combined.

    This is why having the ability to monitor in mono is critical - solo any # of drum tracks in mono - if there's phase problems, you'll hear them.
    If you can't monitor in mono, try starting your setup w/ just the OHs, Kick, and top Snare mic. Move them around until you get the sound you want. Then add the bottom snare mic, and any close mic'd toms or hihat.

    None of this helps w/ the bigger problem of drum tuning, but hopefully you understand better why one inverts the bottom snare mic, and why your OH placement relative to the snare drum is extremely critical.
  8. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    Well, actually, I am pretty happy with how the overheads sound. And they sound good in mono as well, so I don't think there are any phase issues with them. I just got a bit confused because planet10 said that every waveform should start with an upward pointing curve, otherwise it is out of phase.

    I did some tests yesterday with my ISA preamp, by tapping on the windshield of a mic and recording this sound. When I looked closely at the waveform recorded it always started with a downward pointing curve. Surely this doesn't mean it's out of phase? Why should it be?

    Also, I did not understand why I always need to invert the phase of the bottom snare mic and not the top one. I thought I just needed to invert the phase on one of them, depending on what sounds best with the overheads.

    But I think I know now what to pay attention to the next time I record a snare drum.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    That drummer needs to pump up and get real about rockin. Thats really anemic. Thats anemic for a lot of music. Theres nothing positive about his strike. I record guys in blues and shuffle bands that ghost all the time but their initial hit is no nonsense and definate to the beat and the pulse. This one isnt.

    Its okay if you're playing some place at 80db. Like the old folks home.

    This is going to make a lot of work for you. But you already know that. If you're getting a good pop out of the overheads then get rid of relying on the snare close mics to do the work the drummer should be doing in the first place.

    My suggestion for snare tuning is this.....buy a couple of snare drums for your studio. A deep metal one and a standard wood shell. Prep them with wrapping the hardware (disassemble it all), getting heads that have sound control or at least get some moon gel or a ring, tune them the way you like a snare to sound and when someone comes into your room and brings in a crap sounding thing like that one, kindly push one of yours on them. It will make your job easier and the recordings better.

    You can use that track, but I would do it over. Period.
  10. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    Thanks, Dave. I am gonna forward this to the drummer ;)

    And I definitely agree with your suggestion about buying my own snare drum for the studio. Will do as soon as the budget allows (there's some other stuff on my list of priorities...actually, a lot).

    I think I am gonna try copying the snare track and cutting it so that only the main hits remain. Then I will replace them with a sample from Steven Slate Drums (they have the crack that's missing here) and blend it in with the original track. I'll see how this works out. (This may be cheating but unfortunately there's no possibility of re-recording the track.)

    As far as phase is concerned, I asked some knowledgeable people and got this information:
    - Whether the wave form of an audio recording starts with an upward or downward pointing half wave doesn't say anything about being "out of phase". In my case I just need to make sure that the two snare tracks are correctly aligned and their waves start in the same direction.
    - It's not true that in every case the phase of the snare bottom mic needs to be inverted. Sometimes it's the top mic, sometimes even none of them.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I listened to the track that was on the rest of that page. Apparently a complete one?? Did you mix that? I see the effect they were going for with the ghosting of the snare. Its more like a march but its still a touch anemic. With that indie kind of feel if everyone lays back too much it losses its punch and especially when they 'punch it up' in the heavier sections. Nice sounds though......Decent songs and performances. The 300hz ring is kind of canelled by the bass line in the sections where its going to show. Of course it does blur the bass sound in that area enough to deal it out if you can. I'd be searching that out with a Pultec style EQ. Those two parts need to separate just a bit more during the bass (solo) section between the verses. The bass could use a bit more clarity. The tone is okay and fits the style...just a bit clearer.

    Being that the snare cant be redone, your options are limited to doubling the track and finding just the hit on one of the doubles and crunching it with the comp and EQ. You'll get more of the downbeat in doing this. Dont know if it'll help the feel of the song but its worth a try.

    Some may disagree with this, but in using the mics you did, there isnt going to be much a phase issue between a 201 and a 57. Some of this will have to do with diaphram size......I know I know...it shouldnt be like that.....but its really true. I used this setup for many years and found it to be the case. I could exchange the top mic 201 witha 57 on top and bottom and have immediate phase differences. But with the 201 on top and the 57 under it wasnt a problem. The 201 on top and a 422 on bottom the same thing...vive no difference.
  12. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    Yeah those mixes are not really meant for listening yet...they are still work in progress. The mp3s are the newer versions, the wavs the older ones. I am using this platform to exchange files with the band so they can give me feedback.

    You are right there is also a bit of a problem with the bass. The bass player has a rather "dirty" style of playing, especially in the more aggressive parts. Also, the songs were recorded in a rehearsal room, so room acoustics weren't exactly ideal. And it was all recorded live, so there is some spill on most of the mics.

    The snare is actually eq'ed quite heavily, with steep notch filters were the resonances are.
  13. BushmasterM4

    BushmasterM4 Active Member

    Dont worry about mic leakage. Its a good thing to many engineers. A couple room mics can be add to the drum sound also.
  14. BushmasterM4

    BushmasterM4 Active Member

    I took the liberty of playing with the snare, I hope you dont mind. Here are 2 links to two versions. They are playable only. Please note its rough not having all the tracks or stems to work with, plus I was working with a "Limited Track".. What I did was take the full mix and then added 3 more snare tracks. Snare one is as you recorded it. Two is with a plate reverb on it. Three is with a gated reverb on it. I then mixed those three with the rendered mix. The two mixes I rendered are just a tad different (one is louder than the other but thats not what we are here for). Here are the links.

    Track 1 Start Player
    Track 2 Start Player
  15. gunsofbrixton

    gunsofbrixton Active Member

    hey Bushmaster, thanks for taking the troube to do that! I really appreciate it. I have to say though that this is way too much reverb for my taste ;) I do like my mixes more dry, but that's a matter of taste. Also I think if you add a reverb this long to a snare you need to make sure that only the main hits are sent to it (but that would obviously require more time).

    I had another go at the mix myself: hammerton - Farlow trembling 030610 - SoundCloud

    What I did is copy the snare track and remove all but the main hits from the copied track. I then replaced the hits with a sample using Drumagog and blended the sample in with the original track. The difference is not huge but audible. And I think it still sounds natural, even though there's a sample involved.

    (Anyway I am still not happy with the mix. I think the bass is probably too loud but that's another story.)
  16. BushmasterM4

    BushmasterM4 Active Member

    Its cool. I do like my reverb :) Im a big "Hair Metal Snare" kind of guy. On the Bass. I always HPF my bass and kick to get rid of all that low end build up. Hell I HPF alot of tracks. I have no outboard eq at the preamp level so I more or less have to use a plugin eq to help everything share the bandwidth. Im looking at upgrading my Mackie 1640 to the 1640i model (newest one), so I can utilize the mixers "Perkins" Eq. Anyway best of luck !!!!

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