Using Snare Drum in your Mixes with Audio Engineer James Kananen

Snare drum is a common element of many music styles from rock to hip hop, and almost every other style of music you could imagine. The right sound usually has some sort of crack around around 2k-10k Hz caused from the metal snares that rattle at the bottom of the drum.

Snare Drum Samples or Recording your Own Snare Sounds Sounds

Snare drum can me sampled or recorded live in the studio. Great results can be achieved with either approach. Even if samples are used, the drummer’s performance is important to capturing the sounds of the song.

Using Snare Different Snare Sounds in your Mixes

Snare is usually high pass filtered at 100hz. There is almost nothing usable in that region and it just interferes with the kick drum. There is usually a fundamental frequency at around 120-200 hz and then some middle region between 300 hz -1 khz that can be scooped or left in for a more boxy tone. The crack or snap is usually between 1.5k-10k hz. Snare drum is usually recorded with a top and bottom mic. These are combined together (my mics usually sound best best the bottom mic phase flipped.)

Recording the Snare Drum in the Recording Studio

If you are recording snare drum, or just starting out, the most important snare drum mic is surely the Shure SM57 which has been used on hundreds of thousands of recordings. Pointing the snare mic at the center of the drum at between 2″ to 4″ or more is common. Another mic pointed the opposite direction on the bottom of the drum pointed towards the snare is great for snare bottom. Usually, an SM57 or similar dynamic mic is used for snare bottom, although a C414 or other higher end condenser is popular. I really prefer dynamic mics when im recording snare drum. I use Beyerdynamic M201 dynamic microphone for snare top and something similar or SM57 on snare bottom. I usually scoop around 500 hz and high pass at 100hz. Occasionally i will boost 5k or so for more crack, but this is only if the drum is sounding “tired”.

Tuning the Snare Drum

It’s important to tune the drum up well too obviously. There are tons of drum tuning tutorials on youtube, but the topic could get drummers talking for weeks. Tune it up to sound nice and it will record nice. If your snare sounds like crap the recordings will sound like crap. New heads are important to the clearness of the tone. Get a qualified drum tech to tune your drums.

Using Snare Samples Samples

I’ve used various snare samples on almost all types of music. While i dont always use samples, for someone who works with audio, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least talk about some of the samples recorded in my recording studio in Cleveland. 

These snare drum samples include samples with SM57, M201, RE20 and with High Velocity and Medium Velocity Hits from our Gretsch Birch Snare Drum, recorded in the studio. Compare the tones, or use the samples for free in any rock & Roll, R&B, Dance or Electronic music for free forever!

Other Snare Samples

Look for snare samples recorded in an airplane hanger, or in recording studios around the world. The sky’s the limit. From swooping someone’s signature sound, to crafting samples of your own, Contact me if you have any good snare samples!