99: Why Your Snare Sounds Like Sh*t And What To Do About It

99: Why Your Snare Sounds Like Sh*t And What To Do About It

"Your snare sounds like shit" is a meme at this point, as you probably know. 

Everybody is struggling with their snare sound and we remember how we just couldn’t figure out how to make a snare sound amazing when we started producing and mixing. 

So we wanted to talk about what it actually is that causes a snare to sound “bad” or amateur and tell you what to do instead.


Here's what we cover in this episode:

  • Tuning, head selection, muffling, snare wires
  • Phase / Polarity
  • Playing technique
  • Stereo image
  • Snare bleed in overheads / other mics
  • Room
  • Mic placement
  • Compression
  • EQ
  • Limiting/Clipping
  • Samples (or lack thereof)
  • Reverb
  • "What the heck am I meant to do with this bottom mic?"

Book A Free Coaching Call With Benedikt:

This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.

Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)


[00:00:00] Benedikt: we are about to answer the question of all questions, like the most important audio question on the internet, I think. And that is why does your snare sound like shit? And it doesn't only happen to us. It happens to everybody in the audio world. I think Hello and welcome to the self recording band podcast. I'm your host, then it is time and I'm here with my friend and cohost Malcolm Owen flood. How are you? Malcolm?

[00:00:36] Malcom: Hello? I'm great. Benny, how are you, sir? 

[00:00:39] Benedikt: Great. Thank you. I had a wonderful weekend. Yesterday was one of the best days. And in a while, like, I don't know that this was just. Perfect winter day. So much fun with the kids. We did so much yesterday. I don't, I don't know why that is not the norm actually, but it's, we, we, I mean, we tend to have fun and weekends, but yesterday was special. We went was, we were [00:01:00] out in the snow and then we got in and we played X-Box and then we, uh, we did like what else did we do? We did, we played the piano, made some music with the kids. We, I w I went cross country skiing. We like all these different activities. And one day it was just a perfect day yesterday.

[00:01:19] Malcom: That sounds like a pretty great day. I've got to say, well done. 

[00:01:22] Benedikt: Yup. Yup. Well, rested today. And I jumped right into some last, not last minute, but like, you know, the typical busy-ness before the holidays, but I feel ready and rested for it. So it's cool.

[00:01:34] Malcom: Yes. Yeah, I know exactly. what you mean with the busy last minute holiday stuff. It's like, we've got to get these albums done before Christmas so we can all start thinking about it.

[00:01:43] Benedikt: Yeah,

[00:01:44] Malcom: That's the main reason because everybody wants to just leave this year behind them, check the boxes. It's funny. 

[00:01:52] Benedikt: So how, 

[00:01:53] Malcom: it actually 

[00:01:54] Benedikt: weekend? Okay, sorry. Yeah.

[00:01:55] Malcom: It's good. It's good. It's, it's kind of a, Yeah. the same, just trying to tick off all of [00:02:00] the projects that we can, Um, before the new year, I'm going away on a trip to Mexico, which I'm very excited about. I'm sure there's people in different places of the world that just can't believe that I'm able to go on a vacation in a different country because the COVID situation seems to be very different in different places. If that is you, I'm sorry. It sucks. But luckily we're in a position where we can do that for now. I'm so very excited to go somewhere warm. That used to be like a, a very common thing For me taken off to a warm place in the winter. So looking forward to that, um, and yeah, and then, yeah, just ticking off all the boxes I can on projects that I've got going on and it's been going awesome. Had like a couple of different mastering projects. Come back with the thumbs up on the first try, which is always nice, you know, normally on singles, it always goes that way with mastery. Cause like it's just one song to think about people don't get really overthink it and mastering is kind of like that in nature. But EPS usually there's something ups in albums, but this time it was just, everybody was like, we're stoked this release this great. There we go. [00:03:00] 

[00:03:00] Benedikt: Perfect. That's the best. That's the best. Yeah. Just a quick little question on that. Just out of personal interest, do you. Like when you sent the first master at this, have you, at this point prepared all the different versions and formats, like ready to go. So if they sign off, like you can just send them and you're done, or you're just like studying one thing. And then when they sign off, you have to actually create all the 

[00:03:24] Malcom: Uh, it depends on, uh, the deliverables. So if it's just the, like the one version of the song they sent me, then yes, it's all prepared. I just do it all at that time. And if they approve it, I'm like, yeah, go ahead. It's, it's ready to be released. Um, but in often there's like instrumental versions of whatnot as well that have to get run through. And I don't do those until the primary is approved. 

[00:03:46] Benedikt: Yep. Okay. But so like the different, I don't know how many, like which deliverables you deliver deliverables, you give to bands, but like the, I dunno, 44, 1 16 and the high res or whatever you do, like these are already, or is it just [00:04:00] one master to rule them all 

[00:04:01] Malcom: totally on deliverables. So it's 44 1 and an, and an MP3 of just because I like to make sure that there's a decent codec going through I'm like that that's just not being done like on like make mp3.com or something. 

[00:04:14] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:04:15] Malcom: So I like to, to provide that. Um, so those two are delivered uh, like I'll like, you know, flack versions of stuff like that are I have to be requested, 

[00:04:23] Benedikt: Okay. All right. Cool. Cool. All right. Got it. Cool.

[00:04:25] Malcom: you know, why I started doing that? This is worth mentioning. I think, uh, I was providing 48, 20 fours and people kept trying to upload them to their distribution companies and getting errors because 

[00:04:37] Benedikt: Really?

[00:04:38] Malcom: distribution companies like CD baby, one of the biggest don't accept it. 

[00:04:42] Benedikt: That, despite you explaining what the different things were for, I assume like you didn't just 

[00:04:48] Malcom: think it was doing more harm than good than help. So it's now, uh, upon special request if they want it and they know what they're using it for, we can do it, but, uh, 

[00:04:58] Benedikt: Interesting. I never had that, but I [00:05:00] also never asked, so maybe some people get errors. Like I, I send like a standard 44 1, and then I send the high-risk slash video thing, like just as you described. And then I send, yeah, it depends on what they request, but those two are like the basics that I send out, but I never had anyone like complaining that they couldn't upload anything. So 

[00:05:20] Malcom: Yeah. I just kept, kept getting emails. It was, it was going to be like a FAQ. It was so frequent people. just couldn't figure out what they were meant to do with this file. Cause they don't really understand what the difference is often. Right. Um, so Yeah, what really sealed it for me though, was our, our friend Bobby Baylow, who has a pretty Cool. YouTube channel. These is a very scientific guy and, uh, he did some tests and found that 44 1 was actually outperforming on YouTube then 48, which is told the, not what you'd expect because 48 is typically how the video world works, but just how the YouTube kind of system deals with audio. Apparently you're getting a cleaner result with a 40, 41 file. So I'm going to stick with that [00:06:00] unless people want the other, 

[00:06:01] Benedikt: yeah. 

[00:06:01] Malcom: it's been the standard for my entire life. So it's pretty safe. 

[00:06:05] Benedikt: Yeah. I mean, but that's, that's depending on, I mean, this is too much for this episode, but like that's dependent depending on the video format. Right. I think the 48 works. If it's embedded in a container format that is able to play back the, the lossless audio thing, it's just as problematic when people create like, I'm not sure I'm probably getting it wrong now, but the way I understood it is when you create an MP4 or something that has the 48 in it, it causes problems. But if you create some other format that, that has the 44 1 in it, and it's like actually playing the lossless thing, then that is better than the MP4, something like that. So I think 48 works well, but you have to do it a certain way to make it work. 

[00:06:45] Malcom: Right. Which I think. on this, honestly, I think providing that as it's, it's unlikely that it's going to happen. 

[00:06:51] Benedikt: Yeah. I'm already glad if people just, if people don't upload videos that are in mono, so 

[00:06:56] Malcom: Yeah. that's what I was just gonna 

[00:06:58] Benedikt: classic, you know, [00:07:00] I don't know, like 

[00:07:01] these people. 

[00:07:02] Malcom: I'm so glad you mentioned it. That that happens like once a year, it's insane. They, if you were making a music video please send it to your engineer, whoever mixed it, or your producer At least. and be like, what do you think of this before you release it before you approve it? Because video people. Always not always, but more often than it should happen. End up bouncing their video out. And the audio is in mano. For some reason, they've just, I don't know how it happens or why wide happens. Nobody's ever explained to me what happens. They've just been like, oh, I'm sorry about that. But then I fixed it and I'm like, that's great. But why is this happening? I don't, I don't understand. 

[00:07:38] Benedikt: Yeah. Same, same just happened to me. That's why I was stopped with nine. Like a band is releasing a single next Friday and they sent the video to me. I didn't request it, but they sent it to me, the, Hey, check it out. We're so proud of this video. And I'm like, cool. But like the songs know, and the weird thing is they had a sound effect in the middle of it. Like some sample that's not in the actual song, that's just in the video and that was stereo, but the song itself was 

[00:07:59] Malcom: oh no, [00:08:00] that was the sounded crazy. 

[00:08:01] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. So I'm like, why is this like short samples, stereo and all the rest is motto and like, yeah, there was some mistake obviously, but they just checked it on phones and didn't notice that. Yeah. So 

[00:08:11] Malcom: It's a bummer when it happens. Cause I mean, you put so much into the song and then now the video representation of it just sounds terrible. 

[00:08:20] Benedikt: yeah. exactly. We dad, we caught it before the release, so they had actually a chance to, to re-upload it, but sometimes it's delayed, so, all right. Let's get into today's topic. I think today's episode. And we are about to answer the question of all questions, like the most like the most important audio question on the internet, I think. And that is why does your snare sound like shit? I mean, this is, I think are like, honestly, a lot of people in our community as well. I think I'd have to look it up, but I think most questions, like the most asked question that I ever got. Is like why, like how to make a snare sound awesome. And it doesn't only happen to us. It happens to everybody in the audio [00:09:00] world. I think, I think people struggling with, for whatever reason are struggling with snares zones a lot. And it's become a meme at this point. Like snare sounding like shit is like, uh, an internet phenomenon. And like, and I remember myself, like years ago when I, when I started, I remember how frustrating it was comparing my, my snare drum sounds to like real professional productions. And for whatever reason, the snare was, was also in my case was also the thing, always the thing that stood out to me and that I just couldn't get. Right. And instead of telling you how to, how to mix the snare, because there's not only one way we all try, we're trying to explain to you what could go wrong or what might cause your scenario to sound weird compared to your favorite records. Does that make sense? So 

[00:09:42] Malcom: Yep, absolutely. Yeah. it's a, it is just as crazy trend on the internet. People just love making fun of snares and like, usually there's nothing wrong with it, but it's just something people like to say. Um, but, uh, it, it's kind of like, there's always humor in the truth. And it's more so less [00:10:00] about snare sucking. It's more so about how hyper-focused we all are as engineers and music, people on snares. Like it's been that way forever. Like even going to live shows and I'm like, oh, that's a really nice sounded snare. Oh, this band snare sucks. 

[00:10:13] Benedikt: yeah. W why do you think that is? What is it that makes us snare that makes us focus on the snare so much?

[00:10:19] Malcom: I don't know. I don't know. There's something satisfying about when it's right though. Right. It kind of hits in this nice way. It's it's satisfying. It just is. Um, but I, I couldn't tell you, I mean, kicks kind of had their moment. I feel like too, um, you know, like early two thousands metal people were like more click, more click and 

[00:10:40] Benedikt: totally. Yeah. 

[00:10:42] Malcom: uh, now, now it's snares and I think snares are more deserving. 

[00:10:46] Benedikt: Yeah, I think so too. Maybe it's because it's the that the, the backbeat, or like the two, the four that's like really important. And I learned, like, I didn't know that a couple of years ago, but I've learned that this is apparently very different from country to [00:11:00] country. Some people clap on one and three others clap on two. And for some PE some cultures are more like, yeah, and some cultures or some, some, some genres, the one and the three are more important than the two in the four. I don't know. But maybe we all in rock or whatever we are in American culture, or I don't know, maybe we all gravitate more towards the, the backbeat of the two and the four. Maybe that's so important. Also, I think to me, the snare drum is sort of the most characteristic element of a drum kit. It's like the voice of the kit to me. So everything else is sort of, I mean, it all matters, but Tom's, to be honest are not that important symbols, as long as they don't say. They are symbols, you know, but like the, the scenario is sort of the voice of the, uh, the kid it's it's loud. It's I dunno. It's it's, there's something about it. Yes. Like you said, it's when it's right. It's just satisfying. And when it's wrong, you can immediately tell. And to be honest, I've heard a lot of productions that are not so bad, but when the scenario really sucks, I can't really listen to it. Like it can ruin a whole mix for me if it's like, and it does, it's not a matter of like a [00:12:00] certain way it has to be done, but it just, if it doesn't fit, that's what I'm trying to say. If it's like, just off for some reason, that's the problem. I think so.

[00:12:07] Malcom: Yeah. That makes sense. it is kind of like the most full range sound on a drum kit as well. You know, symbols are kind of the highest kicks or the lows and Toms are usually kind of more associated with low rumble as well. The scenario is kind of both I mean, it doesn't go super soppy, but the good snare usually has some punch in it. Right. Like where you feel it. So it's, it's getting like that, that low mids at the very least. So maybe that's why I don't know. It's always center and it's very constant as well. So we, we just focus on it and we like them 

[00:12:37] Benedikt: Yup. All right. And let's tell people, let's try to explain what could go wrong or what the common problems are in with a snare drum. 

[00:12:44] Malcom: for sure. Yeah. And I think our list starts almost, uh, in order of importance. But not quite yet. I mean, maybe I don't know. It, uh, it's a long list. We're probably going deeper than we need to. But I, I tried to kind of quickly order [00:13:00] things and like, you know, this is fairly important in this order, but it's not entirely like that. And it is dependent as well. You know, what might make the difference for one drummer might not make the difference for another. So just keep that in mind as you're listening to us, go through this list, listeners. 

[00:13:15] Benedikt: All right. All right. Okay. So let's start with the fundamentals, basically like the foundation, which is tuning heads, selection, muffling, dampening, and the actual snare wires. So the instrument itself, basically like how it's set up, how it sounding on its own. So that's, I think one of the most important things, and it's, it affects everything because it doesn't only affect the snare close mic, but it's also, it affects the overheads. Like even if you replace it with simples, it's going to be everywhere. So the basic characteristic of the snare, how it's tuned, high pitch, low pitch. If it's rainy, if it's dead, if it's like too muffled to dad, if it's too open all these things, if there's a long. Decay. If the snap wires are really audible or if that's a really short [00:14:00] snap if you've picked the right head, if you've got plenty of attack or like a more, I dunno, like, yeah. Tell totally depends. Like all these things change the characteristic of the drum itself. And no matter what you do after it will always have this Sonic, like footprint, this characteristic baked into it. So it's really important to pay attention to that, even if you plan to replace it later. So if you really know you won't use the scenario at all, then maybe you should try to eliminate it or like eliminate the annoying parts of it as much as possible in the overheads. Like, because some of it will still come through no matter what.

[00:14:33] Malcom: Told me. Yeah. I, uh, I'm, I don't know if we've ever said that before, but even if you plan to replace it, it will still be in overheads and the rooms, like, I mean, that's obvious to us, but I don't think it's something we've ever actually said on this podcast. And that might be a little bit of a misconception there. Isn't really replacing drums. We say sample replacement, but it's not full a hundred percent replacement. And there's some really clever tricks to make it close to a hundred percent replacement, but it's not [00:15:00] really totally possible. And that's worth remembering. So even if you think your snare is a placeholder, you're going to be stuck with it. 

[00:15:08] Benedikt: Yeah. Yup. So some of the most common mistakes here or things that could go wrong. And again, we don't go too into too much detail. We just give you the things you need to be aware of, basically, because there are so many different ways to, to understand Rome and all of that. That would be an episode on its own, but some common things I want to give you listeners. And that, to me, those are. If the pitch, like the tuning of the snare just doesn't match the song with the genre. And I don't mean like the note, I don't care about the note being tuned to the song or something like that, but I mean, in zombie genre is a low tuned, very dead fat snare, for example, works well. And in others, like a high pitch ringy sample snare would work well and there's, you know, there's always tastes and, and there's no right or wrong, but sometimes it's just right. And sometimes it's just sounds wrong. So, Nope. So mistake number one is just a weird tuning or [00:16:00] tuning choice for the genre you're making. So that could be, that could be a problem. Maybe you're comparing. You're recording your song to something else and they use the appropriate, like inappropriate tuning and it just works. And you like how that sounds. And you're not aware that no matter what you're doing mixing or with microphone placement or whatever, can get you close to that because you've tuned it completely differently. Like yours is lower or higher or longer or shorter or whatever. So if you want to achieve a certain snare sound, make sure you are also in the ballpark of that tuning. And that sound basically. So the wrong pitch is.

[00:16:35] Malcom: Yep. Yep. That's that's definitely wise. I like to just have a couple snares on hand so we can just quickly shoot them out. They're usually hopefully tuned a little bit differently and it's kind of like different flavors. One's going to be in the right ballpark. It's just like trying out different guitars. Like, is it a less ball or a tele song? Oh, this tele is easily. The choice that, that kind of is like a rapid fire and easier thing to do rather than being like, okay, can you crank that snare up way higher? I want to see what it [00:17:00] sounds like now you can do that, but it's, it's kind of like more work. It's just really quick. If you have snares that kind of have their natural spots, they like to live in. If you've spent any amount of time with your standard drums collection, if you have a collection you'll, you'll, you've kind of figured out where they sound best, hopefully by experimenting. Um, and yeah, it's funny because I'm pretty Sure. Benny you and I both liked. Lower fatter. Snares. 

[00:17:27] Benedikt: Often the least. Yeah. 

[00:17:28] Malcom: Yeah. Often. 

[00:17:29] Benedikt: Yeah. I started enjoying the higher pitch ones more lately, but like in general, like a Nick EPIs near to the house body and like weight to it. Yeah.

[00:17:38] Malcom: Big fat splat. Yeah. And then I was just listening to one of my favorite records, like the other night it's called bringing down the horse by the wallflowers. And it's got a Piccolo snare on it, just like the whole album. And it's just, it's so good. It's perfect. That pickles are like those really skinny high-pitch stairs for you listening. So it really was a reminder is like, yes, it's what you like as a [00:18:00] snare by itself, isn't necessarily the perfect choice. So hearing it in context is everything. 

[00:18:05] Benedikt: Yep. Totally agreed. So the, the, the other two things that I wanted to say about. Pointy about this first point, like common mistakes are making this near to dead. So a lot of people can't stand the sound of the, of a ringing snare of a ringer snare. And they think they have to use a lot of moon gel or even verus like tape or whatever to make it really dead because they think it's annoying. When in reality, not all of that ring, you hear in the room will make it into the recording. Like a lot of it will be masked by guitars and by symbols and all that stuff. So it's, it, it will be probably much less annoying than you think. But what you're doing is you kill the attack and the volume of the scenario. So if you make it to dead, it will be like a cardboard. Basically. There is no sound to it. It's not open enough. So I see it a lot of times, like when I used to produce, uh, people were always surprised by how open I would have my, like, I would like to make my snares. And they were always [00:19:00] worried that it's going to be too annoying, too ringy. And. You'll be fine. Like, let's check it out when it's recorded. It will be there. It has to be allowed enough. It has to have the crack, the impact, the attack, and, uh, what you are used to hearing in your jam space will not work well in the context of the whole loud thing. So I think that's a very common mistake that people think they've controlled the snare when they've actually completely killed it. So, 

[00:19:24] Malcom: yeah. you can be hyper-focused on the different frequencies coming off your drum and think that they're all bad where in fact they are the sound of your drum. So it's, it's a balancing act for sure. Is there is such thing as too much, for sure. You know, there, there can be way too much rig and that's gotta be dealt with. Um, but it's all again, going back to context that helps a lot. If you have like good, solid scratch tracks, so you can throw the track up against that will make a world of difference in helping you gauge if a sound in a drum is a problem. 

[00:19:52] Benedikt: Yep. And then the last thing is to me, at least is a common mistake that I used to make also is, a snare [00:20:00] bottom head that. To that that's not tight enough. So let me explain, let me explain real quick. What I like to do when I like to have, um, a deep, low tuned snare drum that is fat. And like, as you described, like that sort of characteristic, I like to bring down the better head. Like that can be a little more loose and like lower, but I like to still have a pretty tight resonant side, like a pretty tight, lower bottom hat. And the reason is if that is really tight, you'll get all the snap and you get a quickly reacting, like quickly directing snare wires, which if that is not the case, if it's too loose on the bottom, it's always sounds weird and cheap to me. And then like the snare wires don't really react properly. They are a little late or like they don't like there's no, no snap. And it almost always, uh, it almost always sounds cheap to me. So instead of. Cranking the top head and turning down the bottom hat. I like to turn down the top. Hat depends on how much rebound you want from the head and all [00:21:00] that. But I like to still pretty much crank the bottom hat just to get this, these quickly reacting, snappy snares. And that to me just, just works. And oftentimes when I listen to this near bottom mix of people who sent me drums to mix, I completely throw them away or mute them. It just because the lower head is not tuned properly. And oftentimes that means it's too loose. It's not tight enough nuts, nappy enough. I'm too slow, whatever I'll get rid of it. And if it's done properly, you can have a low tuned fat snare. That's still snappy and has all the crack. And that's still like that's the cuts through the mixed properly.

[00:21:34] Malcom: Right. Yeah, yeah. I'm a big fan of what the bottom of the snare can do for a Trump sound. Even if you're not making it by the way, just, just because you're not throwing a bottle of Mike on it doesn't mean that what's going on down there. It doesn't matter. It totally matters probably more. Cause you have no close mates to help control what's going on down there now. so where I would go next in this conversation is like how many wires you're thrown on down there? Um, to me that makes such a huge [00:22:00] difference in the drum sound. I like usually like pretty thick strands. Um, not the strands are sick, but the amount of wires on the strand is like 30. Around there kind of thing. That's like a big fat snare strand. I love how that sounds. Um, It doesn't, it actually sounds less buzzy to me

[00:22:19] Benedikt: Yeah,

[00:22:20] Malcom: adding more. Cause it's just more of like a solid response. I dunno. It sounds, it sounds so great. I think. And 

[00:22:26] Benedikt: know what you mean. It's, it's easier to tune also. I think the thinner wires or like less. Wireless 

[00:22:34] Malcom: Yeah. 

[00:22:35] Benedikt: are harder to control because they sometimes have these weird, this weird buzz, like not the actual is near bus, but like, after that, there's sometimes this, you know what I mean? Like the one, the stuff that 

[00:22:44] you don't want. Yep. So that's the really annoying part. Like if it's well tuned, well centered, then that shouldn't happen, but it's more likely to happen with less wires to me, at least like it's, as you said, it's a more solid thing. It's a little more buzzy or louder, like the snail [00:23:00] wires, but it's not an annoying bus. So yeah, to me, I think that's totally right. If done well, like you can do with, with lesser, with, yeah. It can, it can absolutely work, but to me it's also easier yeah. 

[00:23:11] Malcom: Told her. Yeah, I've seen, I've seen, I had both work like all the time, but, uh, just worth playing with, I think a lot of people are pleasantly surprised when they try to throw in a big fat wire on. 

[00:23:22] Benedikt: Yep. Agreed. 

[00:23:22] Malcom: Yep. So while we were planning this episode, I was thinking, okay, like what are the most common things that make me think, oh, this scenario is just a disaster. And it's usually when I get a reference mix from the band, that's like considering me for mixing. And they're like, Hey, this is like, what do you think? How, how have we done so far? And, uh, Uh, very often problem is that the scenario is just totally out of face. Um, as this is like, okay, that's like, that's a disaster. And if I just fix that, you'll think I'm my like, missing genius. Um, and so it's just that that's pretty much the point is you have to check the phase between your [00:24:00] mics and make sure your stair bike is told the in phase. Me and many other engineers like me treat the snare as like the master. It's like a phase gets based on our top smear bike. That's that's like the most direct sound we're getting and everything's going to be conformed to make that work. And uh, usually the most commonly miss thing is just flipping your overheads or your bottom is near mic. And just making sure that those two things, if you get those two right. It's probably going to work out pretty good. Cause you know, I like to check all my mix against it, like buy Toms and hi-hat or whatnot, but you, you definitely want to make sure that those did bottom snare and your, uh, your overheads are especially important when it comes to like the phase coherency of your scenario bike. 

[00:24:42] Benedikt: Yes, a hundred percent phase, such a big one. Um, That's probably has the most impact of all the things on our list here. If it's wrong, like you can completely eliminate all the good stuff about your snare 

[00:24:54] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. And again, like it's at the top of our list because it happens all the time. So [00:25:00] when it was mentioned, and like I said, it as if it only matters when you're mixing. Benny and I, we, we strongly encourage you to get this right. Well, tracking. It makes it way more rewarding. You're playing to a drum kit that has punched now. Um, it's I think it's so important that you get right. It's part of engineering drums, and that's like that alone is a reason to go into a studio to record drums. If you can't figure that out on your own or don't have what you need to do it like just having that in phase snare kit is like creates the picture that you were recording the rest of your instruments to 

[00:25:28] Benedikt: Totally. Like how do you know if the drum sound will work when you're actually not listening to the final drum sound? You're listening to a cancel like version of it. That's not what it's going to be in the end, so yeah, totally have to get it right. Okay. 

[00:25:39] Malcom: It's so on and inspiring. 

[00:25:41] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. All right. So the next thing is also happening at the source and that is playing technique and that's also such a big one to me. And that's something to me that most of the time simply means you're not hitting hard enough. So, um, not hard or not consistent enough. It's not always about like having to hit it full on, like depends on the round genre, but [00:26:00] usually it's good to hit a snare really hard, even if it's not the most heavy stuff you're making. Like if you've ever watched a really good drummer, the, the force they are able to, to like put into the sand round was pretty incredible. It doesn't look like it, but it's really loud. Like they played really loud and they play consistently. And if you're standing in front of a kit in a room where someone, when a really good drummer plays the kit, you'll notice that they control the symbols pretty much like it's. Like symbols all over the place. It's not annoying, but they really hit the shelves hard. And consistently we've talked about that a couple of times, and that doesn't only what that does is not only makes it the snare. It doesn't make this nail louder. It sounds different. It sounds completely different. Just make, just do the experiment. Just try it. Like Micah, Stan drum hit it like hard, hit it soft and then compare the different hits, different volumes. Compare those at equal volume. And you'll find that it's not only allowed like a volume difference. It's a drastic tone difference. It [00:27:00] completely sounds different. Like the snare drum only starts to sound open and full and big and explosive. Once you hit it hard enough. And I know that it's not, not important for it. Like it's important, but it's not like there's no, no one technique for all genres, but in general, at least in the stuff that I'm working on, most of the time, people are not hitting hard enough. It just 

[00:27:21] Malcom: Yup. Yup. Yeah. it's wildly important. Um, and the, the next like that that's half of the coin, the other half, the picture here is I just changed metaphors halfway through a sentence there, but the other side of it is, um, the consistency and accuracy that it has been hit with. So it's, I mean, that's great. If you can smack the snare hard 10 times in a row, but can you do it for five minutes, six minutes song, you know, these people that have these giant epics and it's just impossible without like a lifetime of skill, to be able to play the drum to a studio level, that entire performance. Right. Um, so you really have to work at that and just become a [00:28:00] total. Beast at hitting your drum the same way every single time. And that is yet again, the velocity and strength that you're hitting the drum, but also the, the spot you're hitting your drum. Um, I'm sure many, many drummers and, and people guitarists who are sneaking onto their drum kit before the drummer shows up for practice have seen like a circle drawn in the center of their snare drum. And that's there just to train you as like accuracy hit it here. This is the spot. Right. And it's really hard. It's super hard, but it's amazing what a good studio drummer can do to that circle. They can just demolish that one spot. It's it's pretty crazy. And, uh, so Yeah. that like those, there's nothing more worth investing your time. And then that technique, I think for, if you want to be like a studio level, drummer is just become a beast of dynamics. 

[00:28:52] Benedikt: Yes. Also knowing the difference between room shots and no room shots, that sort of thing. It's also super important and like, yeah, it's, [00:29:00] you have to learn that stuff and really like practice. There's no way around it. You have to put in the work and it will take time. But when you get there, when you've ever, if you've ever seen a drummer who, who really nails that, it's, it's fascinating. It's incredible to hear, to watch those drum rolls and listened to those dramas play.

[00:29:16] Malcom: our working title is while you're sitting there sounds like shit. I'm not sure if you're gonna use that for the actual thing I hope we do, but, but, uh, I think we should just add a point and, uh, your snare sounds like shit because you're not. doing a rim shot. 

[00:29:29] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. Period. 

[00:29:31] Malcom: There's so much better Almost all of the time. 

[00:29:34] Benedikt: all of the time. Exactly. Cool. So I'll leave the, I I'll I'll let you talk about the next one, because you put it on the list here. Stereo places.

[00:29:42] Malcom: Yes. So this is, again, going back to like getting mixes from people being like, what do you think? And it's another telltale sign of it, not sounding pro to me is that the snare is leaning hard, left or hard, right. Not hard, but more than it should be, um, snares or something. We [00:30:00] want up the center pretty well every time. And if you have done a bad job at placing your overheads or whatever, you're using this, they create the stereo image of your kit. You might have your snare leaning hard one way or the other, and that doesn't create a very good listening experience usually especially with your samples or main standard makes up the middle, but you hear this like weird, distant sounding version of it off to one side. It's just another common thing that is told the ruining the drumming experience of listening to this. 

[00:30:30] Benedikt: Agreed a hundred percent. Totally. So, yep. 

[00:30:34] Malcom: Careful with that. 

[00:30:35] Benedikt: Yep. 

[00:30:35] Malcom: Um, I guess the actionable on that is a measure your snare to your overheads, you know, just make that distance the same. That's that that'll go a long way. 

[00:30:44] Benedikt: Yup. There will some sometimes be a trade-off because usually you'd want the kick and the snare in the center. But if I have to make a decision, if it's not possible to have both because of like how the symbols are placing, like other factors I'd prioritize the stand rum. I think you can filter out [00:31:00] a lot of the low end of the kick. And, um, I don't know. I just, yeah, when in doubt I would prioritize the snare. 

[00:31:06] Malcom: I agree. 

[00:31:07] Benedikt: Cool. All right. So the next one is snare. We've already kind of covered it. It's near bleeding, overheads and other mikes. So what I mean by that is even if you try to eliminate the snare in your overheads or rooms, you will always have some snare in there. It's like, there's no way around it. And, um, That can really mess with your final snare sound, even if you've replaced it with a sample there, just if, if the snare has a cardboard quality to it, like a cheap sort of sound, even with the best sample, there will be some of that quality in there. And it can really, depending on, yeah, I don't know if you've done a few different things. It can really cause problems. And I think it's always worth paying attention to that and listening to the overheads in the rooms and how the scenario sounds in those. It might not sound spectacular, but it shouldn't be really problematic or very cheap sounding 

[00:31:56] Malcom: Yup. Yeah. So the problem here.

[00:31:58] Benedikt: yeah. 

[00:31:59] Malcom: Th the problem [00:32:00] here isn't that there is snare in your overheads. So you're your other mix. There, there will be, you're going to there's bleed of everything. If it's happening in the room, you're hearing it. Right. But the problem is if that bleed is bad, um, and, and, you know, this is like something that happens all the time with like high hap lead in, into a snare bike. People are just like freaking out. I can hear the high hat and it's like, well, does it sound bad? Is it if not, it's probably going to be okay. And then that, I mean, that comes, that's a whole nother episode. The volume of it is very important too, but. 

[00:32:29] Benedikt: Yeah, totally. Yeah. And I think it depends on the genre and like what you're going for when it comes to drum sound and a lot of people skip that decision or that thought process. What I mean is you can set up overheads in a way that they are primarily symbol mix and you can set them up in a way that they are kit mix. And we have an entire episode on that if you're not go back and listen to that. And the thing is, it can sound awesome if there's a lot of snare and a lot of kit in the overheads. So if that's intentional, that's super awesome. And maybe you just need a little bit of the close mic and that works for the. But [00:33:00] sometimes people want a super modern, precise, like metal sort of sound, and they want to use a lot of samples and they actually don't like the way the scenario sounds in the overhead. So if you just pick the wrong approach for your overhead technique and you capture too much, if the kit, then you get problems, when it comes to mixing a drum kit and you have to do all sorts of tricks to get rid of the snare. So it's worth thinking about this when you set up the session and how you, like when you make the decision, uh, about how you were going to position your, your overheads, because you might want to angle them away from the scenario. You might want to put them closer to the symbols. You want to treat them as symbol mix more. If you don't want the scenario in the overheads. Whereas if you like the sound of the snow and the overheads, and you want a more organic, complete picture of the kit in there, you can, you can do differently. And then that's okay. So it's all about being intentional. And so, and in case it's already too late, like if you have tracks that have the snare in there, but you don't want it in there, there are ways to get rid of it. So maybe the reason why your snare is not sounding the way you want it to sound is because you haven't [00:34:00] controlled the overheads enough in the, in the mix. So maybe you should not just like, high-pass it. And like add some top end and get rid of the residences. Maybe you should also throw a limiter on there. And maybe one that is actually killing the transients, like the opposite of what you would do in a master. For example, like if you put or something like that on overheads, or there are like cheap limiters sock, limiters can work well for that. If you put that on your overheads and set it so that it just affects the snare, but leaves the symbols alone. These limiters can get rid of much of the snare, make it sound a little longer, kill the attack a little bit, make it like sink into the mix more and leave more space for the actual close mic to come through. So maybe you have to do more of that. Maybe you have to clip the overheads. Maybe you have to do some sort of tricks to get rid of the snare as much as possible in those. And if you've, if you've not done that if your overheads are very dynamic and there's the loud snare trends and in those overheads, that might be the reason why your snare doesn't sound good. Despite you using your favorite samples of whatever.[00:35:00] 

[00:35:00] Malcom: Yeah, yeah. Again, like you said, it's, it kind of depends on the snare sound you're going for in your head, but that is a very, for people that don't know how to like to mix like kind of modern sounding records where you want that very direct sound. That's a, that's a total common mistake is like thinking that that overhead stuffs helping, um, where it's just kind of confusing, like the focus of the, of the drum sound. 

[00:35:20] Benedikt: Yep. All right. So the actual room that not the room mikes, but the actual room, your recording, and has like also plays a role. And if that's different, like a room can add to the snare sound and can make it sound awesome, but it can also be the reason why it sounds like shit. So totally depends. Like if you're in a small untreated room, that just doesn't sound great, but that's very audible and obvious in your recording. That might be a problem. It might sound your you're might make your snare sound like yeah. Cheap. And like this, this typical jam space sounding recording where you hear those reflections from the wall, but they're not really reverb, not really a big room, not really [00:36:00] ambience, but it's this weird quality to the stand room that that's just hard to get rid of. So, yeah, that's I think a typical, a pretty common problem when people record drums in less than ideal spaces.

[00:36:11] Malcom: Yep. Yeah. Episode 97, we talk about, should the room be too dead or too live too big or too small 10 and stuff like that. You should just go listen to that. That, uh, that'll kind of solve your decision-making on that process. Um, but Yeah. if it's a problem it needs to be dealt with. 

[00:36:26] Benedikt: Yeah. Just know the room is important, even in the close mic. All right. Then a mic placement, like, do you have a go-to approach when it comes to that? Or do you have like, let's turn it around to fit the topic better? Like, is there a common mistake you see people make when it comes to putting a standard on the mic, a the I'm sorry,

[00:36:47] Malcom: I, yeah, that would be a problem. If the stair on the mic. hasn't worked well for me in the past, uh, 

[00:36:55] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:36:55] Malcom: I mean, I think not really, [00:37:00] sometimes I'm, uh, I see stuff and I'm like, is that work? You know? Yeah. that sounds good. I, but, uh, I think if there was something it's like way too close or way too far away, it's just one of those extremes or not aimed at the skin at all. like, like I, there, there is definitely something to be said for like going out the rim or like the shell of the drum, but I think you still need that top mic, no matter what, 

[00:37:22] Benedikt: Yup. Yup. I think the thing that I had in mind with this is when it's not about the snare, as much as it's about like the, the bleed, what, anything like all the other stuff you're going to capture in this NanoMech. So if you aren't, if you want to use your natural snare and not just go with samples and you put the mic on the snare in a way that you don't properly reject the high hats, for example, and just now Mike is for the higher bleed again, if the high hat sounds great, then maybe that's not a problem, but usually let's say you have a very dark sounding snare. That's not bad, but you want to add a bunch of top end [00:38:00] to it, or maybe the drummer doesn't hit hard enough and you need to compress it more to add more smack. You're going to bring the high head bleed up and this can sound unusually sounds pretty bad and weird because it's off axes. It's not like the full picture of the high hat it's like in the middle and not, not to the sideways should be usually. And it's like, so you, you can't treat the scenario like you want to because you're introducing other problems. And that is usually to like the high that it's just becomes too loud and annoying. So you're limited with what you can do to the snare and you don't end up getting the sound you want and you have to do, you have to make this weird compromise. You have to gate the snare really hard, or you can't cue it as much. You can compress it as much. And that can be the reason for a bad snare sound. Not because the placement itself was bad, but because there's other stuff in the mic that prevents you from doing the treatment necessary to achieve.

[00:38:51] Malcom: Right. Yeah. That is such a good call. Um, it didn't really occur to me, but Yeah, every time I place a drama, it's, it's always like, it's the [00:39:00] primary kind of positioning of it, of like where on the side of the drum kit is, is where those high hats are. It's just automatic built in now is try and reject those high hats as much as I can as a default.

[00:39:10] Benedikt: Yeah, comes down to blink technique also, and drum set up like put the high heads as far away as high up as possible, play them controlled hits, and they allowed all that goes together. But it's also the placements, like one of it. Yep. Okay. Now compression wa I start, but I want to hear your, your opinion. So what I mean by that, why compression can be the reason for a shitty sounding snare is that you could not compress it enough or you could over compress it, or you could like compress it the wrong way. So oftentimes when people mix them. They don't know that you, in order to achieve a certain sound, you have to compress the snare pretty hard sometimes. Not always, but sometimes you want to, if you want that extra punch, extra smack, there are different ways to achieve that. But oftentimes that has to do with a compression technique to make it [00:40:00] sound as if the drummer hit even harder than, than they already did. So might be that you, you are keeping a pretty natural sounding snare drum because you're afraid of compressing it too much when you actually have to literally smash it to get that sound. Sometimes that's the case, but the opposite can be true as well. Maybe it's totally fine because the player was great. The standard one was great, everything was perfect. And it just needs a touch of compression. Maybe it needs some automation and you still smash it because you've seen somebody do that. And in your case, that might be the wrong decision. So there's, there can be too much, they can be too little, but it's a very important thing. And I've seen both, both of those things go wrong all the time. So.

[00:40:39] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I don't really have anything to add to that. It's it's you should never do anything without an intention in mind. So if you're just compressing it, because that's what you saw somebody else do, please stop. Just, just don't do it unless there's a reason that like, it should sound like you need it compressed. Right? This there's kind of this [00:41:00] theory that I've been thinking about a lot and it's like, I've just been, self-assessing how I mix things. And I've been realizing that when I think about my mixing as editing, I get some really good results. So I'm not compressing to make the snare sound better. I'm compressing to change the performance. I'm queuing to change how the drummer hit the drum. It's editing more than it is mixing. I mean, it's not, but if I think about it that way, I get some really great results. So compression is a tool to make the drummer more consistent, make them hit harder, change the tack of how he hits the drum. Right? That is, that's like a form of editing in a way. So always think about why am I doing this with every single step, 

[00:41:42] Benedikt: Yeah, agreed. And sometimes also it's worth also thinking about how much compression to apply to the different. Layers, if you will. Like, what I mean is there's this close mic layer, then there are the, the overheads and the stuff that's not really close, but also not like far away. And then [00:42:00] there's the room mikes. And oftentimes to me, it makes a lot of sense to keep the close mix pretty dynamic. If the performance allows that like that, if it's like hit consistently and like sounds great. Sometimes it's worth keeping the natural attack and leaving that pretty much untouched, maybe applying some parallel, parallel compression or something that doesn't mess with it too much. But then the further away you go from the kit, you can like start to compress more or like mess with it more. You can like room mikes can be really squashed. And that character of a really compressed snare and the rooms can add to like combined with the pretty natural close might, can lead to a very great result. So oftentimes it can sound pretty compressed and full of energy and impact, but the close mic is often not. The thing that's compressed really hard often it's the room mix and those, the combination makes it work. So it's worth thinking about this and not like smashing every single like layer the same way, or they are. That's at least how I, how I think about it, but it highly depends on the performance. So I totally agree with you [00:43:00] that we are changing. We are optimizing the performance and sometimes the tuning, we can make a snare sound a little longer, a little more ringy, a little shorter, whatever, like with compression, but doing that wrong can totally mess up a snare sound.

[00:43:13] Malcom: Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. Next on our list was ETQ and it's it's for the same reason, 

[00:43:18] Benedikt: Yeah.

[00:43:19] Malcom: just if it, uh, it can totally butcher butcher a sound and it's worth mentioning that, like going over both the IQ, probably screwing with your phase as well. Which brings us back to the phase problem that, which was like at the top of our list. So you, you really shouldn't have to do that much, but it's not, it's tricky because I say that, but sometimes you told he has to do a lot. 

[00:43:38] Benedikt: Yeah, it's similar to the compression. Like the two things that can happen are you are afraid to acute enough and you don't do enough when it actually needs a lot of ACU or you are doing a lot when it actually doesn't need a lot. So both things can, can be true. And I think I've seen this. You've probably heard it. I even sent an email out a [00:44:00] couple of weeks ago. To my email list where I quoted crystal doored, LG, who said an interview that he sometimes boosts like the top end of his SS, LEQ all the way like 12 DB or whatever. And then he has another instance as a plugin and boosts 12 to be again on the syndrome if he has to. And he's just like, no, one's going to die. You know, if that's what I have to do, I have to do that. Um, so don't be afraid to do a lot if that's what you need to do and no one's going to die. Don't do that. If you already have a very bright snare. So like it's, you know the, the most common things to me when it comes to IQ, like two things, I think of immediately, when I think about wrong IQ are, if you have too much of the cardboard cheap sort of frequencies in there. So that, to me, that's like the 600 to 801 K maybe like this mid range thing, 700, some like somewhere there. I usually take out quite a bit of that because depending on the room and all that, this is the cheap area to me on, on many snare [00:45:00] drums. So if you have too much of that in there, uh, it can just sound not good, not professional at the same time. If you scoop it out too much, it can be very fake and weird sounding. So it's yeah, 

[00:45:12] Malcom: It's a balance 

[00:45:13] Benedikt: is important. Yeah. And then the other thing I think about is people when people at top and tourists, they had room to make it cut through better or to make it. I think a lot of people add the very annoying stuff where you want, like the, I'd say the upper mid range or the lower highest. So like if you boost three K 4k 5k, that sort of area, it adds a lot of crack and it makes the same cut-through, but it can get very annoying very soon. And I don't, I personally don't really like that sound. So I like to use a broader shelf most often, and I set the frequency higher than that. I like to boost eight K 10 K or something on a snare drum and more broad and like more musical. And that opens up the whole thing keeps it sounding natural. But if you do like these narrow boosts in the upper mid range that a lot of people do, or that I hear on a lot of [00:46:00] mixes, that just sounds fake and UN and like harsh and annoying to me often, like a little bit, it always depends on the source, but a little, a little bit can be, can be cool, but sometimes oftentimes people do too much of that. At least that's what I like, how I think about it.

[00:46:15] Malcom: Me and my buddy were chatting and we stumbled upon this fake shared pet peeve of like, I challenge anybody to go find a tutorial made by a plugging company that it makes NICU. And just like, I'll be shocked if the first thing they don't do is just boost high-end with their magic IQ. That sounds great. You know, it gets like this like little thing where they're like, Hey, we're trying out our new EEQ on the snare drum. And we just boost the high end 10 DB less than how good that sounds with no context. And it's like, we're all being trained subliminally by YouTube to just boost high-end every single time we open a NICU and it's not, it's not good. It's not True. It's not a, it should not be a default movement. And it is resulting in these overly bright, weird sounding mixes. So, so [00:47:00] careful with that, 

[00:47:00] Benedikt: Yeah. Agreed. Agreed. All right. Cool. So, and then the next thing to me is limiting, clipping um, 

[00:47:09] Malcom: I'm curious. 

[00:47:10] Benedikt: Yeah. Okay. It's I, I was about to ask you if you have some standard procedure or if you, if you use limiters and Clippers on a snare drum at all, or how you think about, what do you think about when you hear limiting, clipping in the context of snare sound?

[00:47:23] Malcom: Well, for sure. I, I definitely clipped my snares. Um, I usually don't have like a limiter directly on one, but, uh, there's uselessly, limiter hitting my snare somewhere in the mix, you know? Um, cause snares go loud and hit limiters. But, uh, but uh, it's normally not right on the plugin. Um, that said, I'm sure it could be done and could work. Where, where I thought you might be going with this is like straight up distortion on the snare. And that is definitely like the sign of a crappy sounding snare is like, you hit it. and it's like, oh, that sounds like slipping, like bad clipping I clipped, but you shouldn't hear it, you know?[00:48:00] 

[00:48:00] Benedikt: Yeah, exactly. So adding distortion to a snare is a pretty common thing and a good thing if done well. So the subtle distortion from clipping, or from hitting some, some analog gear or some simulation of that heart that is actually desirable often, like it adds a little more thump. Like the 200 area oftentimes gets a little more pronounced and it's like, it can be a good thing, but you have to know what you're doing and it, you don't want it to sound like it's just breaking up unless it's intentional. Of course. But, so, so yeah, I agree where I was going with. This was what I was thinking about. You might have done everything correctly on your snit rum, and maybe even on your drum bus, but maybe you mastered your song yourself or somebody mastered it and they just totally overlooked what the master limiter or the limiter on the mixed pass or wherever did to the actual snare transcended the snare sound. So you can do everything correctly and completely ruin your snare on the master. If you don't pay attention to that, because like, usually, usually you [00:49:00] should control that before the master, but you can ruin it in the master as well. So if, if you just cranking it up for the sake of like, foot for, for just getting more loudness out of. And you're not paying attention to how that actually sounds like if you only care about level, you can completely push your snare into the mix. Almost make it disappear like the attack of it, and that can ruin the impact, the whole feel of the drum kit. It's just, you gotta be very careful with that. So the, usually in a rock mix, the first, like the two things that trigger the limiter first are the snare and the kick, depending on the balance of everything. Like sometimes it's the kick. Sometimes it's the snare. And for me, it's most often the snare. And if I go to my mixed best or my mastering chain, and I look at the limiter and how much it does, if I see that it's only affecting the snare and it does like five DB or so, and everything else is untouched. I usually go back to my mix and fix something so that this doesn't happen. Something is usually off because if I move forward with that, [00:50:00] I might kill, I might have to kill my snare on the master in order to get to the decided loudness and to control everything else. So. I'm just saying that even if you don't use a limiter on your snare, some limiters somewhere in your processing or in the mastering or on the mix bus definitely affects it. And you have to be careful with that and listen for that. So that, that's basically what I'm saying. And there is intentional limiting and clipping, and it's adding a sound to the snare and all that, and it's controlling the snare. So to me, it's limiting controls. The snare makes it more consistent, but it's like a tiny bit that I use on a snare drum sometimes or on the drum bus. And clipping is not so much about controlling. At least for me, it's about when it's, after it's been controlled after I've taken off a DB or two with the limiter, I might add a clipper to add a consistent intentional distortion because I like the sound of it. Or maybe I use it on the master to add a little bit of loudness without the, the side-effects or for limiting. Some Clippers can do that very transparently. They just chop off the transients instead of ducking the snare into the mix, if there's a [00:51:00] difference. So I do all of that intentionally. But if you don't do it intentionally, if you're just trying to raise the level and you just throw something on there, you chances are you're going to ruin your snare sound.

[00:51:12] Malcom: Yeah. you do have to be careful. And I love that little tip in there of checking to see how much your limiter is working against your snare. Um, early on in the mixing, because that, that is such like a debt gave away of, I mean, that's kind of what this whole episode is about is hyper-focused on the snare sound. And because of that, we end up pushing it louder than it needs to be often because it feels like it's fatter. The louder, the snare is the more fat it feels like because those frequencies are just less. They're like they're not competing with other stuff. But that doesn't really work at the end of the day. You have to find a compromise, not a compromise even, but you just have to, uh, Get it right in. I don't even know how to say this, but it's probably too loud. 

[00:51:52] Benedikt: Yeah, yeah, it's too loud or too uncontrolled. So it might even be too loud, but maybe it's just not controlled enough and you need to put a clipper or [00:52:00] whatever, or some saturation on the scenario to tame those peaks. And then, so you don't have to do as much on the masters. So it could be both, but it could be just too loud. So, but just checking it is worth it. 

[00:52:10] Malcom: yeah. 

[00:52:11] Benedikt: The next thing here is samples or lack thereof. So could just be that you're using the wrong sample. That just doesn't work well with your source tone or that you are, that the samples are too obvious and it's just too fake sounding. You got the machine gun sound and you don't want that. You're using one shots for all the like very fast fills or whatever. Like that can sound very weird. Of course. And or the opposite is true. Maybe you are. Pretty often the case, maybe you are afraid of using samples or you think they sound weird or you shouldn't do it, or your favorite drummer doesn't use some or whatever. So you're not using samples. And that's the reason for your snare sounding lecture, because you should have used samples to get rid of your shitty snared room. So I hear that so often, like people would send me mixes and I'm like, yeah, I would probably do something about the snare. And they were like, yeah, that's actually intentional and cool because we don't want to use samples. And I'm like, okay. [00:53:00] But like 

[00:53:01] Malcom: it's intentional, but it's not cool. 

[00:53:03] Benedikt: but just to me, it just doesn't sound good. So, you know, so don't, if you have to explain what you've done, if you have to explain that to your listeners, it's probably a bad thing. So if it's just not cool sounding, just use samples or don't use samples or use different ones. If the samples you're using don't work. So either way, I think samples can be the reason for your snare to Nazi.

[00:53:25] Malcom: Absolutely. Yeah. there's a, there's a total art to effectively using samples, um, and making them sound real. I'd like that something that took a long time to really figure it out. And I'm always experimented with that still. It just like finding ways to gel them in there and make their do their job even better. And, uh, I've been on both sides of this. I've been just being like, no, let's, let's not go down that road and then regretted it later because it would have just, you know, made it more professional sounding, um, or vice versa, been way too stoked on how my one-shot snare sounding. And it's just like, not, not humid enough. So it's like, [00:54:00] this is gonna take a while. Um, the reason I'm mentioning this is because when you're first trying it, that might lead you to jump to conclusions and make biases about if samples are good or not. So if you first try one and you don't know how to do it, and it sounds like a machine gun every time you're like the drums are playing, like that's, that's probably not the samples fault. It's more so an experience with using. 

[00:54:20] Benedikt: Yeah. Agreed. Totally. All right. So the next one, I'm not gonna start it. I'm going to ask you, and that is, do you, because that's so different for everybody. Do you use an enjoy reverb on snare drums on drums or are you like Nope, no reword for me. I just get the ambients out of the close mix or the room mix or whatever.

[00:54:39] Malcom: There is a, there it depends. Yeah. I both, both what I don't almost ever do is I almost never use reverb on samples. Um, like if, if I want reverb or like room sound in all my samples, there's going to be, uh, like a room sound sample. And, and I would say that generally is how I get, [00:55:00] like most of my room sound is either from the live snare mic, like in the room or, or from a sample, um, rather than a reverb, but that's not to say that I don't use, I have a reefer bus in my mix template. Like always try. But on, I tried on the direct snare mic, that's really the only place it gets used. 

[00:55:19] Benedikt: Okay, cool. Yeah. Agree. I'm not a big fan of reverbs on drums. That sound like obvious reverb, unless it's like an again, an intentional, like artistic decisions. Sometimes you want that, but usually for most things, I don't enjoy listening to drums where I can obviously hear, we were like, the only exception would be like an 80 style gated reverb sort of thing. That's like just has to be there in some John was, that's like really cool, but it, for anything modern, some sort of organic sounding band music, I enjoy room ambience much more. And I don't care if it's samples or real or whatever. I like it is real. It's just a different approach. So I don't care, but I don't like obvious reverb on most of [00:56:00] those things, especially like on we talking about snares, but usually you want to apply that ambience or reverb to like several parts of the kit to make it work. And I tip, I, especially don't like it on Toms when there's this clicky sounding obvious reverb tail, this weird thing that often happens. I don't like that. And I tend to, if I use reverb, I tend to use darker reverbs to just, add some depth and some length, but without the annoying, you often get in the, in the reverb tail. So I don't want that usually. And the, I ever really use it to maybe add a little bit of length and depth to it. Maybe if it's a super dad, Stan, Roman, I want to add a little bit of length. I use a short reverb to just add a little bit of that. Sometimes I like a plate or something just for some depth. It depends on the genre. Sometimes I use it as an effect in certain parts or an individual hit right before a break or something that can be. But the reason I'm I've added to this list is because I I've heard so many mixes where people just add a [00:57:00] bunch of rework because they don't have room mikes and they didn't use room samples and they just don't want to have a really dry kit. So they add a lot of reverb, but it sounds like artificial reverb and it's not like really tasteful to me. So that's, that might be the reason why he just near sounds like shit because of the reverb tail. That makes it weird. 

[00:57:19] Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. totally. I would be willing to bet that if we pulled up a mix that had this going on, like this way too much reverb stuff happening to their drum sound, that that person spent way too much time in solo on their snare um, and just were like, you know, this sounds really cool. And now that's how it lives in my mix snare. I'm not even just snare river, but just reverb on drums can really muddy things up. Another reason I think it happens more often than it should is because reverb is kind of hard to hear. If you don't have good models so you might not really be aware of like the soup that you've created, the Sonic soup. Um, so, so yeah, it's definitely something to be careful though. I [00:58:00] have done some mixes where there is just zero reverb, um, on, on the drums and, and like, not even like a room sound sampler or anything, and it told these sounds awesome and punchy, it's not a necessity. It will sneak into the close mix and your overheads are gonna create some of that vibe as well. So it's probably one of the more overused effects in music. 

[00:58:20] Benedikt: Absolutely. I totally agree. Andrew, Shaps set this in an interview that I've listened to, where he was like on some of the audio slave stuff that he makes, where I really enjoy how the drums sound like. They sound this, there is ambience and it's like long and ringy and it's, it's like rumble and it sounds like a real kid that's distorted. And like, it's just a. Like the feeling you have when you stand next to kit in a room, it doesn't sound like close Mike's, but he doesn't use, he didn't use any reverb on that. And don't even not even roommates, I think are just very tiny bits of room. Mike's like a small amount. He just gets that from squashing, the close Mike's hard enough, you know, like the, the energy of the kid, you don't have to know what you're doing there, of course, but this totally [00:59:00] doesn't sound like a dry kit, but it actually is. It's just mangled. And like, there's this, this, the ring and everything just it's brought up with, with the mixing techniques he used. And so he, because he doesn't, he, he also doesn't really enjoy reverb on drums. At least that's what he sat there. And yeah, so you can create a big sounding drum sound. You can create depth and all of that without actually having to use rework.

[00:59:23] Malcom: Yeah. There's there's other ways around it, for sure. And when you like massively distorted compresses near Mike, you are bringing all of that ambiance. That was, you know, like you couldn't hear before, you're making it louder and eventually you're going to hear it. And that can be really cool. Yeah, Advanced technique though.

[00:59:38] Benedikt: Yeah, so totally. Totally. All right. So, and then this last one, um, that's that you put that on the list and I think it's really cool. You said, what the heck am I meant to do with this bottom? Like.

[00:59:48] Malcom: Yeah. Uh, so we, we kind of talked about this a little bit. I mean, this has many different angles to be considered, but, um, there's the face thing that the, the snare bottom being out of phase with your top common thing that makes [01:00:00] snare sound bad, for sure. But also just like a disregard for what is the purpose of this mic? It's not just for the snare wires. If you ask me, I think that a snare bottom can add a lot of like fatness, um, it can have sustain and it doesn't have to be this bright Sisley thing either. So it's just essentially all I think I want to say is just Like. give more consideration and, and experiment with it more, um, before you just use it because you recorded it. And actually that would be a whole nother argument in itself. Doesn't need to be there. Can it does. It does. Doesn't make sound better without it. 

[01:00:33] Benedikt: Yeah, totally agree. I didn't think about it that way, but you're totally right. I think a lot of people don't know what to do with it, but they think they have to use it. So they just leave it as it is, and then put it in the mix and that can totally ruin your snare sound. So unless you know why you want it and you carve out the stuff that you really want to have in there and get rid of the stuff you don't want to have in there then, um, it's, it's not gonna go well. So you need to know what you're trying to achieve with it. How much of it you need, you need to treat [01:01:00] it a certain way. So to me, at least near bottom, Um, only work well, if I like, I have to do stuff to it to make it work, I have to filter it. I have to bring out the bright stuff. I have to make it snappy. I have to listen for, do I want to add some of the, the kick Peter thing that like makes the snares rattle? Sometimes I want it for that. Sometimes I wanted for the actual snare wires and the snap sometimes, I don't know for length, there's different reasons to have, or not have a snare bottom mic. And you need to know what those reasons are and what to do to that mic, to in order to make it work like that. And if you don't know why, and if your snare top just sounds fine the way it is, maybe don't use it at all.

[01:01:41] Malcom: Yeah. it is one of the trickier things to figure out how to use and how to record, because it doesn't sound good on its own. You know, when you make the top of a snare, it's really easy to be like, yeah, that sounds cool. That's like, let's, let's run with it. Or, and Tom's and Kik, like, they all sound like the drum, but the bottom of a snare sounds pretty awful, almost always. [01:02:00] Um, and so you have to kind of keep experimenting and figure out what you're aiming for. And then you start getting this picture in your head of like, oh, this is a nice bottom snare. We nailed it on this record. 

[01:02:11] Benedikt: Yeah. Cool. 

[01:02:12] Malcom: Honestly that like that takes years and years. 

[01:02:15] Benedikt: Yeah. And I'm not even sure if I've ever said that, but

[01:02:19] Malcom: I honestly like just, just yesterday, I was looking at, uh, a friend of mine, snip bottom stair you've sent me a track, the lookout, like he be back, she brought over the multitracks and we'd go through them. And I was like, this is like an incredibly nice bottom snares. So smooth. It's like the perfect time that it was insane. He really nailed it. And it was like exactly what I try to make my bottom snares often was already happening. That was so pleased. 

[01:02:42] Benedikt: Awesome. Yeah. That's that's great news. Cool. I think we covered a lot here and, um, I hope this helps you make better near sounds in the future, or at least know what it is that your saying that your current snare sound is lacking and

[01:02:56] Malcom: That was a, that was possibly to comprehensive. 

[01:02:58] Benedikt: could be, we went pretty [01:03:00] fast. It had a long list to go through, but you can always relisten. You can slow down the playbook speed. Listen to us sound like drunk people. If you want to, you can make notes. And as always, if you have like techniques that have worked for you, like some tricks that we don't know or haven't talked about on this episode, just let us know, and I'd go to the self-reporting pant.com/community and just post it in there, let us know your thoughts. And there will be a discussion thread to this episode there, but you can also just open up a threat, make a post about what you like to do to your snare drums, or maybe share a story of what hasn't worked in the past or something you're struggling with whatever. So if you are also in, in the camp, like my standard sounds like shit, then, um, just let us know and we'll try to help you with that.

[01:03:43] Malcom: Yeah. one, one funny self deprecating story is that I did a mix for a band really early in my career. I was still in an intern at this time, I think, and sent it off for mastery. And then. I think I knew at the time it sucked. [01:04:00] I think I did. I, I convinced myself I did it, but I was going through that phase of like, I'm a professional, but I really sucked. And anyways years later I'm doing this like online course thing. And, uh, I kind of signed up for this like optional challenge where you get paired with, um, other people in the course. And one of them is this guy, Shane that I recognized his name can figure out how we start talking. And one of our zoom calls and he's like, oh, your name, I know it. I mastered something to yours. And he's like, I mastered this, this album. And I was like, oh shit, this is years later come so far. And even this was years ago now. And. I was like, Ah, honestly, if there's one thing that I wish you hadn't heard that that's the one and he's like, that snare was generous. That's what he said. That snare was generous because it was so loud. 

[01:04:50] Benedikt: yeah. Yeah, that's fine. 

[01:04:54] Malcom: So if you're feeling bad after listening to this, we've all been there, buddy. Don't worry about it. 

[01:04:59] Benedikt: absolutely. [01:05:00] Absolutely. All right. I remember myself drooling over like the kill switch, engage metal core, 2000 sort of sound where they were. I just didn't know what samples were and how to use them. And I just heard those snare drums and I liked that, that it's not, it's impossible to make enormous narrow sounded like that. Like how the hell do they do that? And I like that, that was bothering me for years until I figured out how they did it. But yeah, we've all been there. 

[01:05:22] Malcom: Yes. We've all been there right. on. Okay. 

[01:05:26] Benedikt: Thank you for listening. 

[01:05:26] Malcom: Thank you again for listening. everyone. 

[01:05:28] Benedikt: See you next week. Bye bye. 

[01:05:30] Malcom: Bye.

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