The snare drum is the kick drum’s partner in crimes. An experienced engineer once told me that “it’s always about the snare drum” because it’s what give the production the steady back beat.
Since the snare is such an important part of the overall drum sound, you need to take care of it to get the best sound possible.
Let’s Talk Equalization
Regarding equalization, you don’t need that much below 120Hz, so I normally set up a high pass filter to get rid of all the unnecessary low end.
You can try adding a little bit at 200Hz to bring some the body out of the snare drum if you feel like it’s missing some weight.
I prefer some weight on my snare, so I’m often hunting in the 200Hz region to add something to the snare.
If you hear some ringing on your snare drums, you could always try boosting a tight Q on your EQ and sweeping around until you find the frequency that sounds offence. Once you find, just simply start applying a gentle cut until the ring goes away.
I often find that the snare can usually benefit from a cut in the mid range to elevate some of the boxiness. Try cutting in around the 350-700Hz region if you feel like the snare drum sounds boxy. Once you’ve ridden your snare of the dread boxiness, try adding some boost around 3-4kHz to add some smack to the snare drum.
Just like the kick drum, I try to compress the snare so that it’s tempo aligned with the song. By timing the snare compression to the song, you can get a vibey sound that moves with the track. I will usually leave the attack in a slow to medium setting so that the transient is unaffected and then from there I will set the release to stop before the next hit.
I will usually start with a ratio of about 4:1 and I will go higher from there if I need to. It just depends on the genre and how hard I want the snare to hit. You go two ways: make the compression gentle by removing just some of the peaks or you can go aggressive and get a snappy snare sound.
I would say that snare drum compression is probably one of the most discussed topics in the audio world. Every engineer has his or her way of going about mixing the snare drum, and I think it’s a good idea to experiment to find your sound.
So next time you load up a track to mix, try experimenting more with your snare mixing. You might be surprised with the results you get.
Also, make sure you check out my post on kick drum mixing tips. If you combine the two tips in the articles, you can get some powerful sounds in your drum kits.