Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Adding body and girth to a thin snare drum sound using no samples.

By Tim Dolbear

What to do when the snare drum track you are mixing has no body to it...

I am mixing a rock album right now that has a very "PINGY" and thin sounding snare drum, yet most of the songs are dictating a warm, fat snare sound. In this case I really hate to trigger the snare and use a sample and loses all the drum's nuances. In fact over the last few years I really have stayed away from replacing drums, the feel is never exactly right and the overheads still play out the original. This is where re-micing comes in. Like Re-amping, but without the "amp sound". 

There are a few ways to re-mic a snare. Both ways require you playing the snare track out of your DAW and into a speaker in your live room. For me, I simply send a feed to the headphone amp and plug in whichever speaker cabinet I want to use.  

First you may have heard of, the old "My snare has no snare sound to it, it sounds like a tom" fix. For this you take a snare drum, placed on a stand and set a raw speaker (no cabinet) on top of the snare facing down. and bottom mic the snare drum. Or lay a 1x10 or 1x12" speaker cabinet on its back and place the snare drum face down on the speaker and mic the snare side, now facing up, of the up-side-down snare. When you feed sound into the speaker, it "hits" the snare drum and the snares on the 'bottom' of the drum react, mic records it. Simple. 

But today we are going to talk about adding girth and body to a thin snare sound, something that is not talked about as much as just adding "snare sound".

This recording had a top and bottom mic for the snare, each on its own track. Take a listen.

I first solo's just the top mic track and feed it out of the DAW into the Headphone feed for the Live room. I plugged into the headphone amp an early '80's original 2x12 cabinet that has a Celestion G12-30 and a G12-35 speaker. These 2 speakers in this over sized cabinet have a nice low mid overtone, perfect for what I was looking for.

More about Eclectica Studios' speaker cabs

I then Mic'd the cabinet with a tranformer-less SM57 and sent it through a MANLEY FORCE preamp into an old Ashley SC50 compressor. Using the EQ on the original snare channel in the mix, I EQ'd the sound feeding the headphone amp so that what I was hearing coming out of the speaker and captured into my workstation was to my liking, I also added a slight gate to it to lessen the cymbal bleed.  Then I record the mic'd speaker to a empty track.

Next I switched back to hearing just my workstation in order to mix the parts together and turned off the EQ i used to flavor the speaker. I zoomed in on the 3 tracks (Top, Bottom, and re-mic) and time aligned the new re-mic snare track to the top mic to be in phase.

(In the picture the Snare bottom track, in the middle, has been phase flipped 180 degrees)

Now, using the 3 faders I blended the 3 tracks of snare together and added a little high EQ to the Top snare mic track.

Download All the samples

Happen re-mic'n!

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