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How to Create Your Own Hybrid Snare Drum

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How to Create a Layered Snare Drum
How to Create a Layered Snare Drum - youtube Video
Hey guys, Matthew Weiss,, We’re going to continue with this idea of building drums, and I’m going to show you how to hybrid an acoustic-sounding drum with a totally fictitious synthetic sounding drum – or not even a drum, even some other kind of crazy sound.

Here is my first sound. It sounds totally weird. It’s basically just a noise track more or less. What I am doing to begin with is I’m giving it some shape. What I’ve done is, I’ve zoomed in very close on the waveform and I’ve taken just the attack section of the sound, just the front of the sound, and I’ve boosted it up nine decibels. Then, I’ve taken the very tail end of the sound and I have faded it out. So, what sounded like this before sounds like this now.

You hear that click right up at the front. That’s the attack.

Okay, my second sound is an acoustic snare drum. Sounds good. What I’m going to do is mesh them together.

Now, there are a couple of things that I want to tweak. I think that they sound good together. I think that they have a connected kind of texture. But, I want to do a few other things. I want to get rid of the ninja chop. That’s what I call that sound that kind of sounds like whack that comes after it, whoop, ninja chop.

I’m going to ease some of that out. Just a little basic EQ filtering out around 800 on the 1 track and some basic EQ filtering about the same range – like 1kHz – and then there’s a little notch down here at almost 6 kHz. I mean it’s still there. It’s part of the sound, so it’s not going to disappear. But, it’s just easing it off a little bit.

The other thing that I want to do is I want to build a little bit of ambiance around the sound itself. I’m tucking in this little reverb. It’s subtle. It’s in the background. You barely hear it. It just adds a little bit of dimension to the sound. Gives it a little bit of like a 3D thing going on. You wouldn’t even necessarily hear it as reverb.

Okay, the last thing that I’m doing, and this is just something that I’ve been doing as of late, I got this in phase plug-in and I go in there. What it allows me to do is these sort of micro timing shifts. I’ll slide the sound back and forth while I play it on loop. I’ll play around with the… This is a polarity flip that is frequency band selective, and I’ll play around with that.

Ultimately, what I’ve found as being the sound that I liked was keeping the timing exactly as is but using this frequency band polarity flip to sort of flipping the mid range out of phase and keeping the low and high end in phase. The difference is sort of subtle, but it’s important.


Here’s before. Here’s after. After. Before.

Notice how when the in phase plug-in is in with that polarity flip it’s a much thicker sounding snare. That’s what I liked about it. Before. After.

Okay. I’m busting everything down to a stereo track. Then, I am pushing it all out into an EQ and then into a compressor.

The compressor has kind of a unique little thing going on. This is my modified DBX160sl. What’s modified about it is that there’s a limiter circuit. When it’s engaged, it does limiting, and when it’s disengaged, it’s bypassed. In this one it’s not bypassed. It’s hard-wired in, and if I turn down the limiter, if I adjust the ceiling on the limiter, instead of engaging the limiter circuit all it does is it starts starving the head room going into the transformer.

Okay, yadda, yadda, yadda, that’s a whole bunch of technical stuff. What does it mean? It means that I can use the DBX as a soft clipper. The reason why I like this is it reminds me of overdriving an MPC. This actually, I feel, is a little better, because I can get a much finer control. It acts differently when it receives different gain, and it reacts differently when the head room’s lower so I can kind of play with the gain and the head room to get a tone that I really like.

In addition, I’m using some EQ. I’m boosting up 3.8 kHz which is the pop of the snare. And, I’m boosting 6.5 kHz which is sort of that shinier, more polished part.

Okay, yadda, yadda, yadda, what does it all sound like? Well, here’s the before. If you notice on this peak meter they’re actually the same level. In fact, actually it looks like the second one’s just a touch lower.

That’s the whole formula right there.

All right. These are going to be… Well, the one that I like is going to be available for download at the link below. So, go on over there. Check it out. Thanks for watching. Hope you learned something.


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

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