Snares EQing and compression - the topic that never dies

Discussion in 'Production' started by Quotec, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. Quotec

    Quotec Active Member

    Jun 30, 2013
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    Sup fellas?

    So I have been making dnb for a long time and have learned very many useful tricks how to get my tunes sound better. I can definitely see a great leap in sound quality over year or so. But one thing seems to have improved a little or even not at all. Yes, the mighty drums which in my case are rather pathetic. I have been watching countless tutorials on Youtube, roamed around in Google etc. but I haven´t found any great piece of advice on how to mix drums, especially the snare.

    I am struggling really hard with this one. So I thought that maybe more experienced and competent producers from this community could help me out with great advice.

    My question would be: how do you make your snare sound punchy and distinguished? I mainly have issues with bringing my snare out of the bass-pad-lead madness - it just seems to have died in the background.

    Techniques that I am using when mixing snare: some layering, standard compression(the funny thing is that I don´t really know what compression does), boosting at 200-300Hz(around +8dB), a little boosting at 800-2000Hz(2-5dB) and also at 3000-6000Hz(2-3dB). I also kinda like to add Blood Overdrive to it(using FL Studio 10). I should be doing something with Free Filter too, but I don´t know what.

    Could you help me get better and possibly brush up your knowledge? A tutorial(for FL Studio) on relevant topic would be splendid. I am also in an active search of some great sounding dnb drums sample packs, do you know of any?
    And yes, I make liquid dnb. Forgot to mention it.

    Many thanks in advance!
  2. Sultanare

    Sultanare Active Member

    May 30, 2013
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    Sup man,

    so first off, don't use compression if you don't know what it does. A mistake a lot of beginners seem to make is putting a compressor on every channel without knowing what it's actually doing. Boosting at 200-300's good, 8db's a little extreme though I would think. I've never heard of people using free filter on a snare before lol. I don't really use it because it cuts off everything above 16khz, so I just use EQs for filtering.
    BLOKHE4D's sample pack is really good for clean, punchy drums. Danny Byrd's pack is a classic, mainly for the loops though. I find the one shots in that pack to be a bit strange, probably meant for layering I'd imagine

    I'm not terribly experienced (been producing for a year now), but I hoped I helped :3
  3. Artific

    Artific Member

    Jul 14, 2011
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    Bristol, UK
    My advice would be to watch how loud your kicks and snares are in the mix. I find that turning the volume up on a kick and snare can lead to less punch and clarity and you normally just end up with a muddy low end on the kicks and a jumble of high frequencies on snares. To get a cleaner mix on your drums bring the volume down so they are peaking around -10db and then mix other elements to that level rather than mixing your drums to try and cut through the mix. If frequencies clash and elements start to sound lost, you should apply EQ or move something to another space in the mix through panning, stereo width and careful reverb.

    Another thing is to watch what compression and EQ boosting you do as these are normally applied to the samples meaning you lose further dynamic range and sound quality in efforts to make the drums cut through the mix.

    If you are layering the snares, make sure you have your transients lined up. The best way it has been explained to me is thinking if balls hit a tennis racket, if they all hit at the same time you get the strings creating a much larger and clearer wave rather than multiple smaller hits creating a more jumbled pattern. By lining up the transients on snares, you get the clearer punch at the start of the sound from less phased sound waves.
    Mason John likes this.
  4. cele

    cele Well-Known Member VIP Junglist

    Jan 26, 2012
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    yes definitely look into transient shaping, also the choice of sample is very important since you can't really polish a turd

    You really don't need to boost the snare that much usually, a few dbs ~200-300 is fine and maybe at ~6000 if you want some clarity or make it cut through the mix more.

    Some simple things that you seem to haven't mentioned would be sidechaing your snare to your bass/synth/pad and making a small dip with a an eq on bass/lead/pad where your snare peaks.

    Also layering drums can be helpful

    Compression basically makes the quieter parts of your mix louder and the louder parts quieter, i don't know what compressor you are using but most have the same functions.
    You usually have a Thereshold knob, this signals when the compressor will start working. (ie if its set to -24, the compressor will start working once the signal is louder than -24db)
    Then you have a Ratio that signals how much the compressor affects the signal (a ratio of 2:1 would mean that for every 2db that the signal is louder than -24 it will only let through 1 db -> f.ex if the original sample peaked at -6 then the sample will peak at -15 after the compressor when you use a 2:1 ratio)
    The attack signals after how much time the compressor starts working (useful for keeping your transients, which are what is going to make the snare punch through the mix)
    and the release signals after how much time it stops working.

    As a Rule of thumb my Kick peaks between -2~4db and my Snare peaks between -3~-6 ish. Depends on the Tune though obviously
    Mason John, Tone1304 and wingz like this.
  5. subprime

    subprime Dysjoint VIP Junglist

    Feb 2, 2009
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    Yeah, for this try what cele said, and use a sidechain compressor to make a little bit of space. Send all the 'bass-pad-lead madness' to a buss and sidechain it to the snare using really super short attack and a quick release. If you can't get the attack fast enough use a muted duplicate of your snare track and move it a few milliseconds forwards so that the compressor acts fractionally before the snare hits. Adjust the threshold and ratio to suit, experiment a bit. You probably won't want any audible pumping or breathing unless you're trying for some crazy effect.
    Anyway the end result should be that you can actually lower the volume of your snare and still have it cutting through the mix clearer than it is now.
  6. turbo46

    turbo46 New Member

    Jan 27, 2014
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    what compressor do you use for sidechaining? if i have snare and bass mono and synths can i do the group?
  7. JimpaDirt

    JimpaDirt Vettvilling VIP Junglist

    May 23, 2011
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    A galaxy far, far away
    ^this very much. Most of the times (at least in my projects) it's because all my midrange sounds fight with my snare about the space that my snare doesn't come trough. But every tune is different, you need to have a lot of tricks up your sleeve and know when to use what I guess...
  8. dfault

    dfault New Member

    Dec 10, 2013
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    Use your ears. Learn how to use your gear. Then you can just do whatever the sound needs according what you hear. Pick sounds that work together. EQ the other tracks to make room for your snare. Pay attention to transient peaks and learn how to use a limiter. If you "always" do something you aren't using your ears. It's easy to get into habits based on random suggestions people give on the internet or in magazines but they aren't listening to what you are listening to. If you find a sample that works, don't be afraid to reuse it. Things like that are how people develop a signature style. The people who know how to use a compressor to improve a sound don't use them all that often. Compression is a very unnatural perceptual phenomenon that people only comprehend fully after several years of listening to it and using it. I've been at this a while and I never use a compressor unless I have a specific reason for doing so. A compressor changes the frequency content of the audio more than people realize it does. I have a million other things to say but I must get back to making music...
  9. Mania

    Mania i fukin wot m8 VIP Junglist

    Jul 29, 2013
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    Melbourne, Victoria, AUS
    For sidechaining generally a transparent compressor works the smoothest. It depends on what you have, but logics compressor shows the different compression curves, which vary a lot, and generally the one with the straightest curve (platinum) gives the most transparent and smoothest results. In any other DAW, this would probably be the stock compressor.
  10. Serum

    Serum Well-Known Member VIP Junglist

    Jan 30, 2002
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    One of the best things I ever did when starting out was to read a manual for a hardware compressor to understand exactly what it does to the sound. Until you understand that you're on a hiding to nothing.

    It's a matter of knowing what kind of dynamics you want in your snare and at what frequencies then finding a sound that's close and either processing it or layering until you've got everything you want. The simpler you can do it the better.