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improving snare sound (buying gear)

hi everyone. i have this usual problem all begginers tend to have of the bleeding hi hat in the snare. i have been working with mic position
gates and that kind of stuff. but i m thinking in buying something to improve
its sound.

my actual signal chain is

premier cheap kit snare
sm 57
Focusrite octo pre LE

so i was thinking in improoving any of these 3 elements

- change the snare to a $300 dlls maple snare

- change the 57 to a $400 mic that gets less bleeding

- buy the groove tubes "the brick" for the snare channel instead of the
octo pre LE

i have been using the Wavesc1 gate for getting rid of the bleeding
but i can`t make it sound natural.

so which of those options below can you recommend me to improve
my snare sound and which to get less hi hiat bleeding

here is one of my crappy recordings if you want to check my crappy snare


constructive criticism about the mix its wide open welcome :P


BobRogers Sat, 06/17/2006 - 09:54
Rosemary wrote: Hi, Bob! I don't know enough about what everyone says that classic is to really be positive, no?
I'm just kidding. You're about my daughter's age so I feel like I can give you a hard time.
I like to hear the drums sorta separated like they were spread out in front of you and panned by where they are in the kit. Does that sound right? Oh, well. I don't really know how to say it, but I like to hear the snare really rich and snappy, and the toms deep and tight, and the cymbals crisp and not carrying out too long and the kick really tight and right there, no?
That's what I think of as the "modern standard" sound of recorded drums (and it's definitely what FlyingGator is trying to achieve). However, it's not the way recorded drums sounded in the 50's and 60's (the era I think of as "classic"). The modern sound didn't really become standard until people had the tracks to do it, say the '70's.
Our Band plays Clapton, Beatles, Hendrix, Petty, Blondie, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Orbison, Righteous Brothers and lots of different stuff from the 60s.
That would be a good list to demonstrate what I'm talking about. Take cuts from those artists, arrange in chonological order, and listen to the drums. You'll see how the sound changes with the technology. (The sound of the bass changes a bit earlier - probably about the time that four track become standard.)
I'm not a classic bassist. I was trained by Pete Hand, a true classic jazz bassist whos retired now. I learned to sit back in the groove and play bass. I mean I don't solo and run all over the fretboard, no? So I probably don't really know what classic really means, but I do play session tracks when a band has one of those soloist guys who doesn't record well.
Well that fits my definition of a classic bassist."] James Jamerson,"]Duck Dunn, and"]Carol Kaye would all fit the mold, and they are the people I've studied to try to improve my playing. (The instructional material I've linked to is very good.)

Cheers, Bob

stickers Sat, 06/17/2006 - 11:26
IMO, The brick won't work well on snare. it's not an aggressive pre what so ever.

The drum , the drum tuning and the room are most important in getting a better snare sound. Next in line would be, mic placement followed by mic choice.

And dont forget a drummer who hits the drum. he needs to hit in the center on the drum. I dont know why there so many drummers that dont make an effort to hit the drum center...mind boggling to me, oh well.

MadMax Sat, 06/17/2006 - 20:45
After a couple of years worth of playin'... OK, a couple dozen more than a couple... here's a bit of hard cold reality...

As has been mentioned, it doesn't matter if it's a $20 or $2000 snare. It comes down to tuning... kinda'. If you're trying to get a big fat snare sound, it's gonna be as tough as a 3am steak at Denny's to get that sound from a friggin' piccolo. Use an appropriate sized snare. Im' not saying it can't be done, just that it takes a LOT of extra work.

Tune it! This includes the snares. When recording, if the snares are too tight it will kill the sound and make it lifeless. Too loose, and it won't have enough snap to call it a snare.

Don't over deaden it! Use tape VERY judiciously. Only use tape as a last resort to get rid of ugly ringing that you can't tune out. (Which is an indication that either the heads are old, or too damned tight... usually the bottom head!)

Mic placement is (pretty much) critical. If you're getting too much hat bleed, then the mic is probably pointed somewhat in the wrong direction. Which BTW, as a recordist, it's your job to actually take the time to wade through the process of moving that mic around until you find exactly the sound you're after. If the drummer is wailing so hard that you can't move the mic while he/she's playing, have them stop. Then, move it a bit and go back to the listening position and check it. BTW, the 57 is just fine.

It's not critical that the drummer hit the exact center of the drum. (The reality is that hitting the exact center every time results in a fairly dead sounding drum!) I strike just shy of center and can just about rip your ear out. What's more important is that the drummer plays em' like they're his! Striking the drum consistantly is probably the best thing you can ask for.

Try the method as Rosemary stated. Also, try tucking the 57 between the snare and the bottom of the hat, facing towards the drummer. The 57 should be positioned so that it's aimed slightly downward... and pointing right at the point where the drummer is regularly striking the drum... if it's 2" from center, point the 57 at that 2" from center spot, etc... I usually start my positioning where the angle of rotation, in the horizontal plane, is about half-way between the center of the snare stand and the center of the hat stand... again, it's a starting point. You get good rejection from the hat, but the close proximity still gives you a good balance of in your face snare and crispy hat.

Bottom line... if you can't get a decent sounding snare/hat from a 57 and a decent mic pre, one of two things... either you've got a broken SM57, or you need to keep the day gig!

Keep after it!


Pro Audio Guest Fri, 06/16/2006 - 16:03
thanks for your response rosemary

Well it was recorded in a small home studio. A couple of studio projects c4s as overheads, each tom with a sm57 the snare drum also with a sm57 and the kick was trigered. then it passed trough a focusrite octopre each drum to a diferent channel then to a layla 3g.

the guitars where recrded trough a line 6 pod and so as the bass

the problem i get with the snare its that it lacks of hi frequencies. and when
i boost them in the mix the hi hat bleed trough the mic becomes more
evident and sounds to crappy. so what i want its a way to get more hi freq
whitout the necesity of boosting them trough eq because of the problem
fore mentioned. OR mic the snare in a way i get less bleeding so when
i boost the highs it doesnt become so evident the bleeding.

i will try tho mic it the way you mention and see what results i get.
the kind of sound im looking for its the traditional metal bands
as metallica, pantera, speed metal and thrash metal type of bands.
big fat and loud :lol: . im not sure if it is supposed to be
as boomy as my mix. but again thank you very much for your feedback. :D

BobRogers Fri, 06/16/2006 - 17:09
What frequencies are you trying in to boost? I would think you could you could get more pop if you pushed it somewhere in the octave centered about 1.5kHz? That should not push the high hat too hard. My guess is that you have done more harm than good trying to get rid of the high hat. (But then, I'm a drum mic minimalist. Kick, Snare, 2 overheads. Separation? We don't need no stinking separation?(Rosemary, we have to discuss the term "classic rock" some time. As a bassist, you should know that it ended with the heyday of Jamerson, Kaye, and Dunn. Acording to Remy, that was the day of one ribbon mic to take care of the drums.))

As far as gear goes. It sounds like you don't think much of the sound of your snare live, so that's the first place I'd put any money. But even there you can get better sound than shows on that recording if you have good heads that are properly tuned and snares that are adjusted.

Once you have a good live sound, the signal chain you have can produce a good snare sound. Yeah, a better pre would be nice, but we're talking a snare backbeat here, not subtle nuances. Use as a light a touch as possible on the compression on the octopre.

Markd102 Fri, 06/16/2006 - 20:14
All sounds start at the source. If you drums don't sound great acoustically in the room where you are recording, then you won't have a hope of getting a good sound on 'tape'.
Listening to the recording I would guess that both the snare AND the room are very dead. Start by getting some more 'liveness' in the acoustic sound. New heads and tune that sucker up. You'd be amazed at the amount of pros who use a $20 snare they picked up at a pawn shop. It's more about knowing how to tune it and how to hit it.
The toms however sound great. Nice job on everything else.

Davedog Fri, 06/16/2006 - 22:53
I agree with all the posters who have suggested that the snare itself needs to be special before any amount of mic control or processing can do much good. While I am one of those guys who can get a 'good sound' out of any old snare, its much easier to do so with a great source.

57's are ,as our new young bass girl says, very sensitive to placement. Its also true that bleed can be your friend. Think of the snare hit as a separate 'note' in the arrangement. When you solo the snare sound look at its length as well as tone. A gate will help in determining the length of the hit. At this time, after you've decided on the length as it pertains to the arrangement of the music, this is the point where you begin to isolate this sound. If it means sticking a bunch of processing on it and moving it to another track then so be it. Every bit of control you place on it will do one of two things...either you begin to get close to your goals or you screw it up unbearably and you start over. Either way, youre recording so whuts the prob???

And Rosemary, that snare trick of reamping through a speaker is really Old Skool.....Love it!

Another trick for isolating the snare top sound is to simply buy a Beyer 201 mic. Its actually one of the times where you really CAN buy a better and easier to achieve sound.

RemyRAD Fri, 06/16/2006 - 22:56
Leave it to the guys down under. I second what Markd102 said. The biggest problem with your snare drum is that it is poorly tuned. I really don't think it's your acoustic room treatment? I've gotten good sound in crappy rooms so...? To my ear, the snare drum, actually sounds too tight and lifeless with no snap, no snare. This kind of musicianship also is not terribly conducive to that open articulate sound you seem to be after? There is no finesse. It's all rather brutal. As far as the high hat goes, it sounds like too much of a high-frequency boost somewhere else may be the problem? It's no louder or softer than the rest of the crashing smashing cymbals. Now you might be able to get a better snare sound by placing a small diaphragm condenser mike underneath the snare drum that is phase inverted along with the SM57 on top but that still does not necessarily solve your problem of " too much high hat". Actually I didn't find it to have too much high hat? Otherwise I thought it was overall a fine heavy-metal type recording, if that's what you like?

Smashingly brash
Ms. Remy Ann David