Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MixLine Tip: Save My Snare!

- MixLine, Kevin Becka

A badly recorded snare can often be helped by duplicating it and then treating the duplicates as separately processed members of the same "club." For starters, duplicate your track, either by multing it to a second channel on your console or physically duplicating it in your DAW. One of these dupes will be optimized for punch, while the other will be used to add snap. Alone, they will not have what it takes to flavor your drum mix, but that's the point - it's the combination that will work.

First, bring out the snare's low end on one track with some EQ at 100 to 200 Hz. Remember, this will be the foundation of your track, so don't be afraid to go for punch. Then treat the other track more severely, digging out the transient with a compressor set to a slow attack time (30 to 50 ms) and a fairly fast release (100 to 300 ms). The release time is tempo-dependent, so you can get away with a slower release time on a ballad than you could on an up-tempo song. Try to stay away from the dreaded "pumping," where the compressor gasps for breath in-between hits, bringing up the noise floor unnaturally. Set the EQ to bring out more of the top frequency range of the instrument at 1 to 3 kHz. Once both tracks please your ear, you can mix them accordingly. If you're mixing in a DAW, then make sure your latency is lined up perfectly by using delay compensation or physically correct it by sliding the tracks back by the amount of delay. Most DAWs will let you see how much latency is being introduced by a group of plug-ins. Take that number and move your entire track back to match up with its original position. Keep in mind that one track's latency may not match the others due to differences in plug-ins. - Kevin Becka

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