The Music Espionage

Snare Drum


The snare is arguable the most important element of the kit, the diverse techniques performable on this part of the drum kit allow an enormous dramatic range to be achieved. A good place to start is to open an EQ and sweep through the frequencies, find where different rudiments of the sound are, the instrument’s characteristics and use this to your advantage. The first thing you should notice is that the Snare has a very large frequency range covering from lox to really quite high.
The Snare’s low frequencies 100Hz to 200Hz (the Body), this area can be quite difficult to get right as it is typically the area where the snare will interfere with other frequencies of the drums, common to hear an unpleasant Muddy sound. Moreover, it is this area of the human frequency spectrum that gives the Punchy gut to the sound. When mixed right this area will work really will with instruments like kick and bass guitar and ring in the mix for a real thump.

The mid to upper mid contains most of the wire buzz and some of the smacking sound of the snare, the majority of this sound will live around 900Hz to about 2kHz. Moving on from this should be the wires, the snares characteristic BUZZ. Emphasizing this area can help the drum sound to be very exciting, you will have to be careful not to overdo it. This frequency can get buzzy and fatiguing in a hurry. Be sure to evaluate the sound of the drum the way it sounds in your recording. Many snare drums will naturally accentuate the wires enough that you won’t have to boost them. Between the 6-10kHz ranges, boosting these frequencies can give a lot of extra texture to your snare drum sound. These have the typical crisp sound and give the Snare its tonal air quality.
Compression: unsurprisingly not every drum hit is exactly the same and because of this you must control the dramatic range and make sure the out-put from such instruments is balanced and uniformed, this is where the compressor comes in! Another important element of compression is the Attach time. Setting an attack time that is too short will result in a ‘flattening’ of the sound of the drum. It just doesn’t sound natural any more. So you should pay a lot of attention to very small movements of the attack control because these small movements will make a lot of difference.