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6 Tips for Snares

Finding the Key of Your Snare with EQ

It's important to know the fundamental of the snare so you know if it fits into the key of your track
Load up an EQ on your snare and create a bell-shaped curve. Boost the gain by 8-10db and narrow the Q
Next, let's sweep across the frequency spectrum, and look for a frequency that truly resonates
Next, take that frequency and apply it to a frequency key chart

Adding a Gate after the Reverb

  • Create 2 channels, one for the dry signal and one for the wet
  • On the wet channel, add reverb with a 4-second decay with the Dry/Wet knob all the way up
    • This will create the illusion that the snare will be very long, but often too long, carrying over to the next beat of the song and muddying things up
  • If we add a gate after the reverb and play with the threshold and the release, we can really clean up the reverb tail
  • Audio effects rack

Reverb Gain for Snare Build-Ups

  • For creating a snare build up, we can create an Audio Effects Rack with two channels, one for the Dry and one for the wet
  • On the wet channel, add a reverb, followed up by a gain that increases from a negative value to a positive towards the end of the loop. This will really create some tension
  • We can add a compressor at the end of the wet chain, and sidechain it to the original dry sound. This will duck the reverb as soon as the snare hits, and lifting whenever a snare has some space

Layering Your Snare with Noise (White, Pink, etc)

  • Create 2 channels, one for the dry signal and one for the wet
  • On the wet channel, add a Gate that's side-chained to your original snare, it'll follow the decay of your original snare
  • Next, add reverb and play with the decay
  • And finally, add one last gate to tame the reverbs decay tail
  • Find a noise sample of your choice and layer it over your snare
  • Create an Audio Effects Rack

Duplicate and Pan Your Snares

  • To create an illusion that the snare is wide, duplicate your original snare 2 times so you have 3 separate channels of one snare.
  • Keep channel 1 the same, but on channel 2 and 3, pan one to the left and one to the right, no more than 15 each
  • Add some light EQ on both the left and the right snares, which will create the illusion that the snare is being hit at different places like an actual drummer would do

Controlling the Width of Your Snares with Utility

  • To edit the width of your snare so that its more in the center of your mix, you might be tempted to reach for a utility, and narrowing the width. What this does is takes the audio from both the left and the right channels, and layers them on top of each other. Most of the time, the left and right channels in snares are actually different from each other, so when layered on top, can cause some phase cancellation.
  • Instead, above the width, we have a drop-down menu where we can select which side the snare's audio is coming from. Default is stereo, which is taking the left and the right channels and stacking them on top of one another. If we select left or right, only that channel will play out of both speakers.

Previous article Further Stereo Adventures with Ableton's Utility

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