Snare problems

Discussion in 'Drums' started by Feverdream, May 27, 2009.

  1. Feverdream

    Feverdream Guest

    I've recently recorded a band who loved the mix, but the drummer was unhappy with the snare sound. Now he's a big guy, with a big kit, and his playing is solid but funky. Very Bonham influenced. Anyway, when we initally discussed the sound they wanted, it was all about getting a huge sound from the kit.

    In the mix I gave the band, the drummer wasn't keen on the snare sound. He said he wanted to hear the snare when he hit the kick drum. he wanted all the buzzes and rattles in there. He does a lot of ghost notes, band he wants to hear them a bit clearer.

    Now I'd used an expander on the snare to cut out any bleed from other drums, and to help give it a huge sound after I'd cranked up the compression (waves plugins).

    I've taken the expander off, to give his drums a more natural sound, but I don't like it. It loses all the power, the snare seems to lose it's clarity. most of the ghost notes and buzz-sounds are on the bottom mic (I miced it top and bottom with SM57s), but turning that too high just sounds awful.

    What would you folks suggest? I want the ghost notes higher, without ruining the overall snare mix. I had a really nice sound before.

    Also any tips on how to improve my mic placement to better capture these sounds woul dbe appreciated, because although it won't help me with this mix, the band want to use me again so it'd be good to know if there was anything.

    A pain in the ass, these drummers.
  2. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    North Vancouver
    Leave your compressed snare the way you like it and maybe try a copy of the bottom snare mic and/or a copy of the overheads send them to a bus, and eq that bus. Use the EQ to remove any frequencies that iare not part of the ghost note. Then compress the bus to taste.
  3. Feverdream

    Feverdream Guest

    That's a good idea I didn't think to add an third snare track!

    I could do a cheeky Drumagog, but I don't like cheating, especially not on retro-sounding rock music.

    Any tips on the mic position for future recording?
  4. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    North Vancouver
    Well if the guy likes the kit the way it sounds to him, mic it from his perspective.
    I use QTC50's on overheads, and I find I really don't need much from the other mics.

    The trick is to take the time in the beginning and focus on the overheads as the only mics for the whole kit. Once he is happy with the sound on the overheads alone, then you can add in the other mics as icing on the cake.

    But as you found out spend the time with the drummer and ask the basic questions,
    "How do you want this to sound?
    "What Drum is the center of this song?"
  5. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    I think the issue is snare tuning. It seems the majority of people want to hear a lifeless, dead snare these days. Drummers who want to hear the snare buzz and rattle are not happy with these sounds. The solution to this is to go for a very sloppy snare sound: tune the top head high, and then tune the bottom head higher until you start getting really nasty ringing and buzzing. Then drop the snare wires as much as you can without losing definition. That should make him happy.

    When it comes to mic placement, try micing very close and on the rim of the snare drum. A bottom mic shouldn't be necessary, and will only add a bit of ambience. Limiting can help a lot, as it will smooth out the attack and bring even more of that ringing and rattling to the front.

    Annoying engineers with my snare drum sounds
  6. jdhughes

    jdhughes Guest

    I know I know nothing compared to most of you in the recording world, but I am a drummer. Most of the ghost note sound is from the snares themselves. I am assuming you already have the bottom head recorded, so maybe try adding that as the third track. And, like the guy above me said, tuning is a big deal. To tune for a sensitive, but not too loose snare sound, tighten them, and then loosen them progressively while playing as low and soft as you will play. At first, since they are too tight, you will hear no snare. Stop loosening them right as a snare response is heard.
  7. Feverdream

    Feverdream Guest

    Yes, you're right, most of the ghost sound is from the bottom head mic, so I intend to use that as the third track. This guy has a pretty deep snare, 7 inches I think, so there's quite a difference between the two mics.

    I'm about to go upstairs and try this now. Thanks for all your help folks.
  8. RonanChrisMurphy

    RonanChrisMurphy Active Member

    This is always a tough one when you are dealing with a band with distorted guitars. Drums that preserve a lot of that low level detail and drums that can compete with big guitars and bass are usually two very different drum sounds.

    As a guy that is probably better known for recording drums than anything else, I have probably seen it all. When I hit an impasse like you are facing, I ask the drummer to bring in a CD of a band that is very similar to his, where he thinks the drums achieve what he is going for. This has the dual benefit of giving you some perspective into what he is going for, but also sometimes a reality check for the drummer. If the band sounds like Motley Crue and the drummer bring in old jazz recordings, you know something is askew.
  9. Feverdream

    Feverdream Guest

    Yeah, a lot of the subtleties that would come through with a quieter band get lost in the mix, especially if, like me, you're using very limited gear.

    I've managed to get the sound quite a lot better using the extra track of bottom head snare.

    I've had to do a few more tweaks on the rest of the mix too. The drums sound a bit less polished now, so I've used PSP Vintage Warmer on the mix to give the whole thing a rawer, dirtier feel.

    I think the sound the drummer was after was very much a Bonham one. But then the band also cited modern rock like Clutch and Red Hot Chilli Peppers as influences, which is very different. Something that sounds like it was recorded 30 years ago isn't going to sit well with vocals that are compressed and EQ'd to sound crisp, dry, and modern.

    It's probably a case of finding a compromise between the two, and doing the best I can with what I've got.
  10. RonanChrisMurphy

    RonanChrisMurphy Active Member

    One of the things I often point out when I do drum recording workshops is that people often say they want a Bonham drum sound, but the reality is that if you tried to integrate the Bonham drum sound into a modern recording the band would hate it and tell their friends you are a crappy engineer. Those kinds of sounds can not compete with the modern way that guitars, vocals and bass sit in a mix.
  11. Feverdream

    Feverdream Guest

    Absolutely. I wouldn't want to put my good name (*cough*) to something that sounded poor.

    I got the drummer round to listen to what I'd done. He made a few suggestions (pretty much "Make the drums louder") but in the end he was very happy with it.

    Thanks for all your help and suggestions people. When I'm sitting in my megabucks studio on a big pile of cash chatting with Prince over a smoothie, I'll remember you. All of you.
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