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Brass Snare Blind Shootout - 5 Snares (HIGH tuning)
Old 3rd June 2015
  #1
Brass Snare Blind Shootout - 5 Snares (HIGH tuning)

My buddy and I filmed and recorded a brass snare shootout in my studio yesterday and I thought it could be informative to share a blind version of the test here.

Snares in the test, in no particular order:

all 6.5 x 14

-Modern Ludwig Black Beauty
-1920's Ludwig Two Piece Nickel over Brass
-One Piece Ludwig Nickel over Brass
-Joyful Noise TKO
-Pearl Sensitone

Test paramaters:
-All snares fitted with new Remo Coated Ambassador and Amb Hazy Snare side
-no muffling
-reso heads tuned to 380hz, lugs matched
-batter heads tuned until a drum fundamental of 180hz, lugs matched
-setup with a 1970 Slingerland 3ply Kick and a pair of Meinl Sand Hats.
-mics: 57 top, 57 bottom, AA CM414 OH's, 421 Kick IN, AA CM47custom Kick OUT, stereo room and stereo far room mics.

Recorded at Big Bear Studios in Rosemary Beach, FL
Drums played by Joshua Kidd of Rosemary Drum Co.

The clips are labeled as A-E. I will reveal the results in a later post.

Thanks!
Paul
Attached Files

A high.mp3 (1.54 MB, 2111 views)

B high.mp3 (1.27 MB, 2047 views)

C high.mp3 (1.26 MB, 1954 views)

D high.mp3 (1.26 MB, 1864 views)

E high.mp3 (1.24 MB, 1852 views)


Last edited by Paul C Johnson; 3rd June 2015 at 03:36 AM..
Old 4th June 2015
  #2
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drmmrboy's Avatar
 

I'm liking "B". Sounds nice with the kit. Might be that I'm working on something right now that has that sound, & it's in my head.

Thanks for taking the time.
Old 4th June 2015
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
shrimpbait's Avatar
 

Thanks for doing this! I like both b and c, but b sounds the best to me as well. Just a guess that b is the black beauty

All of them sound good though.
Old 4th June 2015
  #4
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Robert Randolph's Avatar
 

The filenames being underneath the player and closer to the wrong player makes it confusing.

I like C the best by a good margin.
Old 4th June 2015
  #5
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drmmrboy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Randolph View Post
The filenames being underneath the player and closer to the wrong player makes it confusing.

I like C the best by a good margin.
Yes, you're right. Confused me. Looking again, I realize it's actually C that I liked.
Old 4th June 2015
  #6
Yeah I'm not sure why the labels are below the files, that is confusing!

Keep in mind these are brass snares with fresh Ambassadors and NO muffling.

I will reveal the results shortly.

Paul
Old 4th June 2015
  #7
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Robert Randolph's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C Johnson View Post
Yeah I'm not sure why the labels are below the files, that is confusing!

Keep in mind these are brass snares with fresh Ambassadors and NO muffling.

I will reveal the results shortly.

Paul
C sounds so different from the others. Are you 100% sure that the heads were seated properly on all the samples and that the tuning 'stuck' up till the recording time? Was the snare wire set to similar tensions?

C just really stands out as a better sound. It's not even remotely close
Old 4th June 2015
  #8
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ARIEL's Avatar
I like A the best , but once the groove starts going they all have different vibes . A seems to have the best low end thickness that I like on a snare
Old 4th June 2015
  #9
Results revealed

Hey guys thanks for listening, here are the results of this blind test(180hz fundimental tuning):

A - Joyful Noise TKO
B - 1 piece NOB
C - Pearl Sensitone
D - 2 piece NOB
E - Modern Black Beauty

Here is a link to the full shootout video, all 3 tunings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOVfGZM_XkA

To answer a few of the questions, we tuned each drum immediately before each take making sure the heads were seated well, lugs even, and were able to get them within +-2hz of the target before beginning each recording.

I will say that the Sensitone (C) was much drier and had much less ring at all tunings. It felt to me like the head wasn't allowed to resonate as easily as all the other drums. The lug nuts were not as smooth while tuning and overall this drum did not feel a precise while tuning as the other drums did. I find it very interesting that it was chosen as a favorite! Maybe we should discuss why that is?

Thanks again,
Paul

Last edited by Paul C Johnson; 5th June 2015 at 06:04 AM..
Old 4th June 2015
  #10
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Robert Randolph's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C Johnson View Post
Hey guys thanks for listening, here are the results of this blind test(180hz fundimental tuning):

A - Joyful Noise TKO
B - 1 piece NOB
C - Pearl Sensitone
D - 2 piece NOB
E - Modern Black Beauty

Here is a link to the full shootout video, all 3 tunings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLxv1cEOkXw

To answer a few of the questions, we tuned each drum immediately before each take making sure the heads were seated well, lugs even, and were able to get them within +-2hz of the target before beginning each recording.

I will say that the Sensitone (C) was much drier and had much less ring at all tunings. It felt to me like the head wasn't allowed to resonate as easily as all the other drums. The lug nuts were not as smooth while tuning and overall this drum did not feel a precise while tuning as the other drums did. I find it very interesting that it was chosen as a favorite! Maybe we should discuss why that is?

Thanks again,
Paul
Maybe your fixed tuning system was better suited to that drum?

I'd imagine that it's entirely possible that the other drums may have performed better if tuned by ear to sound their best rather than to a predetermined value.

That would be my guess.
Old 4th June 2015
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Randolph View Post
Maybe your fixed tuning system was better suited to that drum?

I'd imagine that it's entirely possible that the other drums may have performed better if tuned by ear to sound their best rather than to a predetermined value.

That would be my guess.
The Sensitone had less ring at all tunings. I could tell while tuning it that it was choking the head somehow. Had nothing to do with the tuning it was like the head couldn't resonate as freely as the other drums.

I would say that the idea that less ring = better tuning is not necessarily the case. The ring is resonance, if there is no ring then something is cutting it off, whether that be interaction between top and bottom head or between lugs, or imperfections in the drum, or muffling. I've found that the most precisely manufactured drums ring the most when played wide open. I also find that when tuned to the right pitch to match the song, the ring can be very pleasing and gets buried in the mix.

While I agree that each drum probably has its own sweet spot, had we tuned each of these drums by ear they would have absolutely sounded different from each other BECAUSE of the tuning.

We felt that the most scientific and fair comparison would be for each drum to be tuned as closely to the same as possible, then do it at several different tunings in case the different drums preferred different tunings. Thats what we did.

Definitely open to any ways to make the tests better next time though!

Thanks!
Paul
Old 4th June 2015
  #12
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drmmrboy's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C Johnson View Post
Keep in mind these are brass snares with fresh Ambassadors and NO muffling.

I will reveal the results shortly.

Paul
Yep. C was dampened a little & stuck out. So I tried listening to the others, thinking, "just a piece of tape & that'll be great." Very hard to envision.
Old 4th June 2015
  #13
Check this out, same 5 snare recordings but in a different order and mixed over a music bed!

Where did that ring go?

Which snare would you choose now that you hear them in a mix?
Attached Files

180wMusic.m4a (962.2 KB, 1368 views)

Old 5th June 2015
  #14
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Robert Randolph's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C Johnson View Post
The Sensitone had less ring at all tunings. I could tell while tuning it that it was choking the head somehow. Had nothing to do with the tuning it was like the head couldn't resonate as freely as the other drums.

I would say that the idea that less ring = better tuning is not necessarily the case. The ring is resonance, if there is no ring then something is cutting it off, whether that be interaction between top and bottom head or between lugs, or imperfections in the drum, or muffling. I've found that the most precisely manufactured drums ring the most when played wide open. I also find that when tuned to the right pitch to match the song, the ring can be very pleasing and gets buried in the mix.

While I agree that each drum probably has its own sweet spot, had we tuned each of these drums by ear they would have absolutely sounded different from each other BECAUSE of the tuning.

We felt that the most scientific and fair comparison would be for each drum to be tuned as closely to the same as possible, then do it at several different tunings in case the different drums preferred different tunings. Thats what we did.

Definitely open to any ways to make the tests better next time though!

Thanks!
Paul
Did I miss where we can hear the drums with different tunings?
Old 5th June 2015
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Randolph View Post
Did I miss where we can hear the drums with different tunings?
Here's the blind shootout with low tuning:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/drum...ow-tuning.html

and here is the full video with all 3 tunings:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOVfGZM_XkA

Last edited by Paul C Johnson; 5th June 2015 at 06:02 AM..
Old 5th June 2015
  #16
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guavadude's Avatar
What did you use to tune these to a specific freq?
Old 5th June 2015
  #17
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guavadude's Avatar
What did you use to tune these to a specific freq?
Old 5th June 2015
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by guavadude View Post
What did you use to tune these to a specific freq?
Drumtune Pro
Old 5th June 2015
  #19
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My favorite is B, originally was going to say A but then noticed the names underneath (sneaky GZ). My second favorite is D.

I wasn't expecting to pick snares from the 1920's but they sound incredible!

Would love to hear brush on those.

u47u67u87
Old 5th June 2015
  #20
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guavadude's Avatar
That was a great shootout. Thanks for taking the time and posting. The TKO looks the best but they all sound pretty great and very usable. I have a Pearl Steve Ferrone 6.5x14" and was thinking I should get a BB someday.
I still probably will but I'm in much less of a hurry now. Seems like with snares, since it's a short noise burst, they are pretty forgiving. Of course there are differences but I could use any of those for that sound and be happy.
Old 5th June 2015
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by u47u67u87 View Post
My favorite is B, originally was going to say A but then noticed the names underneath (sneaky GZ). My second favorite is D.

I wasn't expecting to pick snares from the 1920's but they sound incredible!

Would love to hear brush on those.

u47u67u87
Those NOB's do sound nice and fat!
Old 5th June 2015
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by guavadude View Post
That was a great shootout. Thanks for taking the time and posting. The TKO looks the best but they all sound pretty great and very usable. I have a Pearl Steve Ferrone 6.5x14" and was thinking I should get a BB someday.
I still probably will but I'm in much less of a hurry now. Seems like with snares, since it's a short noise burst, they are pretty forgiving. Of course there are differences but I could use any of those for that sound and be happy.
I agree that any of these snares could get the job done!
Old 7th June 2015
  #23
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ARIEL's Avatar
Well I chose the Joyful Noise TKO snare as my fav , it was the depth and deep end that I liked . and of course it is a very pricey snare Never heard of the company either
Old 7th June 2015
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARIEL View Post
Well I chose the Joyful Noise TKO snare as my fav , it was the depth and deep end that I liked . and of course it is a very pricey snare Never heard of the company either
Sounds like you have expensive taste!

I suffer from the same problem.
Old 7th June 2015
  #25
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ARIEL's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C Johnson View Post
Sounds like you have expensive taste!

I suffer from the same problem.
haha , yes it seems to happen most of the time when choosing through A/B blind tests
Old 5th July 2015
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Pearl sensitone was my favourite, though really I'd be happy with C, E or A (in that order) Didn't like B or D.
Old 13th July 2015
  #27
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Sorry, but D and E were the only ones with similar tuning. When playing a snare at the center, the ring from the edge is the tonal element you hear, not the fundamental. Match the lug frequencies and put the same snare wires at the same tension as the rest. Or else mute the ring and use a drum dial to match the tensions rather the frequencies. if you want a truly accurate test. But IMO they all sound similar timbre wise.
Old 13th July 2015
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
Sorry, but D and E were the only ones with similar tuning. When playing a snare at the center, the ring from the edge is the tonal element you hear, not the fundamental. Match the lug frequencies and put the same snare wires at the same tension as the rest. Or else mute the ring and use a drum dial to match the tensions rather the frequencies. if you want a truly accurate test. But IMO they all sound similar timbre wise.
I can confirm they were all tuned within 2-5hz of each other. Reso's and batters were tuned in isolation from each other and we used Drumtune Pro, sampling at each lug. Lugs were matched. Some drums held their tuning better than others once they were played but there was some drift. The amount of ring you are hearing from each drum is true to the character of that drum within that tuning range. The sensititone was the driest of the bunch and you could tell while tuning it that it was dry(almost choked) at any tuning, compared to the others. Even the lugs screws on that one didn't feel very smooth and precise. It felt like a cheaper drum. Funny thing is, a lot of people liked it best.

I'm sure our tunings could have been even more precise if we had spent even more time with each drum but the differences in pitch you hear is only a few HZ. And going up or down a few HZ from there made no difference in how much each drum would ring.

When I listen past the slight tuning difference I can definitely hear the different characteristics in the recording that were felt in person from each drum. Some aspects are subtle (like comparing different mic preamps) but they are there.
Old 14th July 2015
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C Johnson View Post
I'm sure our tunings could have been even more precise if we had spent even more time with each drum but the differences in pitch you hear is only a few HZ. And going up or down a few HZ from there made no difference in how much each drum would ring.
That's a lot, when comparing two drums. While you are getting the characteristics of each drum, a slight change in tuning, even a fraction of a hz at that pitch, can exaggerate the difference. This is the problem with shootouts, and it's obviously not on you to make a scientific test, but Bob Clearmountain said he heard a night and day difference between his upgraded converters, until he realized they were calibrated a fraction of a db higher.

I think a test with mute rings would be more accurate, but even then, in all comparisons, we are listening for contrasts rather than absolutes. Sorry to be pedantic, but thanks for the thread, i like all of the snares.
Old 14th July 2015
  #30
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Robert Randolph's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
That's a lot, when comparing two drums. While you are getting the characteristics of each drum, a slight change in tuning, even a fraction of a hz at that pitch, can exaggerate the difference. This is the problem with shootouts, and it's obviously not on you to make a scientific test, but Bob Clearmountain said he heard a night and day difference between his upgraded converters, until he realized they were calibrated a fraction of a db higher.

I think a test with mute rings would be more accurate, but even then, in all comparisons, we are listening for contrasts rather than absolutes. Sorry to be pedantic, but thanks for the thread, i like all of the snares.
This was actually my point, but from another direction.

I don't think tuning them all to the same frequency is a "fair" test since it may happen that one drum shines at that tuning, and the others do not. Same goes for head choice, player and even the stick used.

I would personally prefer a test where each drum is tuned to sound as good as possible, perhaps by different people, then payed by a few different folks. It's a lot of work, and I'm sure this was already plenty of work, but it would be an improvement to the test.

Despite that this was a great thing to do and I'm glad it was done at all. These type of comparisons are rare, and even not done optimally are very useful. Thank you again to Paul and company for doing this!

edit: 5hz is a lot for tuning. That's between 25-50 cents for the fundamental range of most snare drums. Imagine having any pitched instrument auditioned at that discrepancy and there'd be an uproar.

edit 2: Since drumtune Pro shows cents and HZ, I wonder if he meant 2-5 cents, which would be much more reasonable.

Last edited by Robert Randolph; 14th July 2015 at 12:38 PM..
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