Hi everyone this is Mathmatech for Utility Audio workshops, and here’s 5 tips for making a great snare sound. These utility audio tips can be used for any style of music, with live recordings, or drum samples, but mostly aimed at that Drum and Bass sounding snare in some examples. If you apply any of these helpful tips, you will get that snappy snare sound, that really cuts into your mix. Here we GO!
Number 1, my favourite tip, and that’s using Transient shapers. There’s a huge list of great options, and we will get into this on another post, but to start you off here’s an example when using Native Instruments Transient Master. NI has really kept it simple, and it just works out of the box. These three knobs really do what they say on the tin. Attack, to really get the snap, or you can bring the transient down and have it hit a bit softer. The release adjusts just that, and the gain brings up any lost volume or brings it down.
From the Native Instruments website:
TRANSIENT MASTER is indispensable for mixing drums, guitars, pianos, plucked strings — anything with intrinsic attack. It gives you another axis to work on. As well as panning left and right, you can position things quite precisely at the front or back of a mix without juggling volume levels.
Generally, more Attack and less Sustain brings a sound to the front; less Attack and more Sustain blends a sound into the background. Even before EQ, you can effectively ‘stack’ sounds according to the priorities of a particular mix.
Some other great Transient plug-ins are by SPL, Waves, Oxford, iZotope, among a list of others. Check the links below to do some research and price some out, and check back for our in depth look.
Number 2, is the most basic tip in this video, and that’s the quality of the sample, or recording of your snare. Even tho its the most basic, its the most important thing to learn from this Utility Audio list of tips, for great snare sounds. My fav quote that I’ve heard, and I say it often when people ask me for producing advice. “You can polish a turd as much as you want, it’s still a turd.” Picking a great sample, or a using a great recording, is the most important.
I’ve added some links to some of my favourite sample packs, and I might do a review of some sample packs in the future, just let me know in the comment section.
Number 3, is a great example of what to avoid. And that’s heavy compression. If you learn about transients, and how using a shaper brings out the snap in a snare, the compressor will do the opposite and will process the entire sound of the snare. Compressing a snare sample, or a snare recording will bring the level of the entire snare up, while squashing that initial transient, and effectively undoing any transient shaping you would do from Tip 1. A great tip here if a compressor is being used in conjunction with a transient shaper, as a slow attack, and trying to void any additional changes to the transient. Compressors can fit better on a Drum Bus, or the master channel, when it comes to snares. I wouldn’t recommend overly compressing a snare, if you’re looking to get a great sounding, punchy snare.
Number 4, Utility Audio tip for a punchy snare. Using envelopes, and this might apply more to drum samples, than a live or studio recording. Most Drum machines, or samplers will have an envelope, and you want to have attack at its fastest setting, and when you adjust the sustain and release settings, you pull out some of the snare after the initial transient. Leaving you with a great snare, that sits in the mix with more punch. I’ve used NI Battery, as a quick example, but this can also be achieved in Machine, with the same envelope settings.
Number 5, and one of the more advanced features of mixing, is using side-chain. I’m a huge fan of Fabfilters C2, and how you can eq the side chain signal, and the meters help to give a multi visual reference. So many new features. Turn off Auto gain. Adjust the dry and wet for some parallel compression.
Leave a comment with your fav plug-ins, or you’re go-to for snare mixing tips. More Utility Audio tips on the way. And check below for some links to some great products below to help you these Utility Audio tips.