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Mixing Snare Drum with Samples

Hi, it’s Warren Huart. Hope you’re doing marvelously well.

I’d like to talk to you about — further about mixing drums. We’ve already done kick. Or if you may not have seen that one yet, we’re going to do snare today.

Now, as I’ve explained before, I have a small room here. I record in many different studios, but when I’m recording in my drum room, it’s pretty comparable to most people’s sort of smaller rooms that they would have in a house or garage setup, and I have a Ludwig kit, which is just kick, snare, overheads, and two toms, and I use a very small amount of microphones.

So if I want to get those drums just a bit bigger, a bit more ambient, and more cutting, I will add some samples.

So let’s talk about how we do that. Please watch the kick one, if you haven’t already. This one of course is for the snare. Also, leave me some questions and comments, and I’d love to answer in more detail what I’m doing here, and also if there’s further things that you want to see, please leave those as comments as well.

Okay, let’s check it out. This is a pretty simple setup here, but what we’ve done on my snare top, as you can probably tell, even just visually, let alone hearing, is it’s pretty compressed, and you might ask, “Why is it so compressed?”

Well, it’s more compressed than it normally would be to exaggerate the grace notes. If you’ll listen…

[snare top]

So you’ve got that, [emulates snare]. So, we printed it pretty hot so that we could capture those grace notes nicely, knowing full well that I’m going to add some other sounds to it. You know, as long as you’ve got the experience and you know why you’re doing stuff, it’s great. If I hand this off to another mixer without those samples in, he would probably go, “Oh my god, this is too compressed.”

Well, it’s compressed for a reason.

Now, the bottom snare here is nice and clean.

[snare bottom]

What I’ll do sometimes is a nice trick, is I’ll put a compressor — a sidechain compressor on the bottom snare, or even the top snare, and then feed the kick sample into it, and let the compression come in and remove some of that kick bleed.

However, I don’t really need to do it in this respect.

This song is quite organic, so it’s okay with a little bit of bleed. You’ll hear in a second.

Okay, so the kick — sorry, the snare top and snare bottom gives us this.

[snare top and bottom]

Okay, so it’s cool, but it’s certainly not snappy enough for modern music, so we’ve added two Addictive Snares. Here’s the first one here.

[Addictive Snare 1]

Now, that snare is also triggering the reverb. It’s a trick I stole from Andy Wallace. I read an interview from him years ago where he talked about using his sample to trigger the reverb, and not the snare top.

And it’s logical, because then you get a much cleaner verb. You don’t get the hi-hat, or the cymbal bleed, or the rack tom bleed sending to the reverb unless you wanted that.

Sometimes, I’ll even put a sample in there that only triggers verb and doesn’t even come out in the mix. This has also been time adjusted. All of these have been time adjusted, which I do a lot so they’re in phase with my mono overhead, because otherwise, you know, that bottom end and some of that crispness will disappear.


So you’ll notice it’s something I’ll do with the bass, etcetera, where I’ll go to the front of the sample — er, front of the live, and then — the live mic and then put it in phase with the mono overhead, which is down here.

So they’re all delayed to be in phase. 94, 94, 94, you know. Whatever it is, we make it work.

Okay, so the next Addictive sample is this one.

[Addictive Snare 2]

Which is a little bit more natural sounding. Definitely got a little bit more bottom snare in it. Let’s put all of those elements together.

[All snares in]

Now you’ll notice the grace note is missing. So the reason why we did this was to exaggerate the grace note, and then these same two samples here we use just to create the grace notes on a separate track, which is so you can have more control over it. And here it is.

[All snares]

It’s pretty nice. And that was our reason for compressing it and hitting it a little harder on that snare top, was to give us a little bit more of the grace notes. You know, that’s not traditionally how I would do it. I wouldn’t compress it and EQ it quite so hard as I did, but it was really useful in this respect.

On our snare master, we have a nice gentle slope of about 7kHz and above for a bit of top end boost. On the individual tracks, the only thing that’s really got any EQ over and above that is a little top end boost on the snare samples, just to kind of make them bite just a little bit more, and I’m using this MV2, which I really like.

[snare all]

To help exaggerate that grace note sample there.

Great! Now, obviously, there’s the snare verb, which is being triggered from one of our samples, as we talked about earlier. There’s actually a gate on it to control it a little bit more. Just get the right length in the track. Then the verb I’m using is another Waves one, and again, an MV2 on the end, just to bring it up so it’s a little bit more even.


You’ll hear some ambience in there. Like I was saying earlier, there’s ambience in those Addictive Snares.

Great, so let’s drop it into the drum mix.



Okay, so please, hit me up with any questions you might have, or comments below. That would be great. Subscribe to the channel, and if you go to, you can sign up for the email list, and get exclusive content. You can see how we record drums, and pianos, and you can download files that we’ve recorded, so you can edit them yourself, and try all kinds of stuff.

I’ll continually put additional exclusive material that you can get if you go to our email list.

Thank you ever so much for watching, and I really appreciate it!


Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at

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