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Top 10 Ways to Transform Your Snare From Weak and Thin to Punchy and Tight

If your drum-kit were a band, the snare drum would be the frontman.

It’s the driving force of the drum-kit. If the drum-kit were The Avengers, the snare would be Iron Man.

The snare is the colorful and strong Superman to the thick and dark kick-drum’s Batman.

And because the snare sound is such an important thing to every mix, here are 10 things you should think about the next time you’re trying to make that snare sound explode out of your monitors.

1. Compress with the right compressor type

The right compression type can make the snare sound different. Experiment with different compressor types to bring out the character you really want from the snare.

2. EQ out the boxiness

Boxiness can make any drum sound awful. It’s one of those things you need to learn to find and cut immediately. Cutting the boxy sound from your drum will give it a rounder sound.

3. Add some thickness

Sometimes snares are all *whack* and no *thump*. Don’t underestimate the lower-mids when you need a tight and punchy snare sound.

4. Add some crackle

But without the *whack* the *thump* will just sound boomy and muddy. Bringing out the snares in the higher-mids is crucial to giving your snare sound the presence it needs.

5. Focus on bringing out the snare in the overheads

Sometimes the snare drum mic isn’t what brings out the character of the snare at all. Or any other drum for that matter. Focus on making the overhead sound the best sounding overheads you’ve ever heard.

Only then can you bring in the individual mics to enhance your drums. If the snare sounds awesome in the overheads, you’ve won half the battle.

6. Use a tight reverb

There’s a ton of different ways you can use reverb on snare. You can use a long reverb for a big spacious ballad. You can gate it for an 80’s snare sound. But if you’re just looking for a tighter sound without a lot of reverb a short, tight reverb will thicken up the snare sound without adding too much space to the mix.

7. Medium attack

You gotta let that crackle of the snares get through. If you use a fast attack on your compressor the snares will get eaten up by the compressor. Time your attack to the song but make sure you leave enough time on the attack to let that crackle get through.

8. Slower release

A slower release increases the sustain of the snare, making it sound thicker and beefier. Combined with the right compressor type you can actually get a pretty thick sounding snare drum by just using compression.

9. Separate reverb

A lot of times you send all the drums to the same reverb to get a similar sound for the whole drum-kit. This is often a tight “drum room” type preset or other. But if you want a distinct snare sound you should send your snare to a separate reverb to really bring it out in the mix.

10. Parallel compression

When all else fails, parallel compression comes to the rescue. Sending your drums to a separate buss and squashing them underneath the natural sounding drum sound can give you the best of both worlds without worrying about overcompression.


Out of all the different processors you use to get a great sounding snare drum, the most important one is by far EQ.

Compression is a close second, but if you don’t have a nice sounding snare sound to compress, you’re still going to have frequency problems.

A well recorded snare that you’ve sculpted perfectly with the right EQ will give you the perfect ingredients for a tight sounding drum sound.

To get that perfectly EQ’d drum sound, along with dozens of other EQ tips you can

Hit the link to get started on the path to perfectly sculpted drum sounds:

If your budget does not have room for my ultimate guide, you can always sign up for my free EQ course, and get over 70 hacks to better mixes, while you save up for the ultimate guide.

Image by: wigerl

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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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