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Snare Gate Changing Cymbal Sounds
Old 23rd December 2010
Gear Head
Snare Gate Changing Cymbal Sounds

I'm having problems with the cymbal bleed in my snare mic.

Yes, I aimed the cardioid mic away from the hat, but the ride is being picked up a lot.

Yes, I put a gate on the snare, but I don't have enough control. I can't shape the sound of my snare without shaping the cymbals too.

Right now, I have the snare gated with a slow enough release to capture the natural reverb trail. But to make my snare pop and sound real, I have to boost the high frequencies. I have it sounding pretty good, but if you listen closely, the ride cymbal gets noticeably brighter every time the snare gate is open, and darker when it is closed. The inconsistency bothers me, even though I reduced the gate to only 8dB of attenuation. Any less attenuation, and the cymbals just sound too loud all around.

1) Is this something I can fix in mixing?

2) What should I do differently when tracking next time?
Old 23rd December 2010
Lives for gear
andreaeffe's Avatar

1) Is this something I can fix in mixing?

2) What should I do differently when tracking next time?
In my opinion & experience:

1) in this situation, don't gate the snare. Don't overcompress/limit it too much, either.
I'd prefer a much gentler expander, 2:1 max 3:1 ratio, set to a very fast attack and a slowish release set in time to the beat/tempo, so it's like a gentle, couple of dBs fader ride down to the next kick/beat.
Then do a parallel gated/compressed/eqd snare (mult the snare track to another channel, gate it FIRST, really drastically, so it's a just badass short agressive shot, THEN compress it really heavily, don't be scared of 10 or even 16dB of gain reduction, with very fast attack and slow release because U want to iron it out and bring the minuscule "tail" of that short gated sound up compared to the attack portion of the signal, and THEN eq THIS sound, bringing the highs up drastically if U wish, and blend it back into the drum mix just that much so it enhances/brightens/tightens your snare, but isn't apparent as an additional sound of its own - and it doesn't screw up your cymbal sounds, of course).

Also remember your snare sound and brilliance, apart from "beef up" tricks like this, depend A LOT on the overheads and the room mics - the final sound is a SUM of these, not just the snare track.

And all the drum sounds, the whole balance and tone of the drumkit, is VERY interdependent, must get all the contributing factors right to have it sound good, and can't mangle/process one of these factors too much without audibly affecting the others, as U are observing & hearing with your ride cymbal.

2) next time, try using a tight, brighter snare mic (like the truly excellent Beyerdynamic M201, perhaps the best modern day snare mic, or some of the rather surprising AudioTechnicas, or even -careful!- some small diaphragm, brighter cardioid/hypercardioid condenser mic like the Shure SM81, KSM109,KSM137 or the AKG CK series, or the Rode NT5, NT3, or even a Neumann KM 184 or KM 185 -if U dare-, etc).

Make sure U're not compressing/limiting the snare on the way in or clipping your mic pres/desk inputs/converters - all this will be non-undoable later, and will adversely alter the peak transient/perceived snare "sound"-to-cymbal bleed ratio.

And perhaps try using some baffle to shield the snare mic from the hi-hat bleed, physically separating them (even a very home made metal or plastic or wood plate with some thick, dense foam stuck to it on both sides and fitted to a mic stand for positioning will do... works for Bruce Swedien, eh eh!).

Make sure U're making the most of mic placement, not too close to lose the snare overtones, but not too distant to pick up too much cymbal bleed and splatter.
Null zones of the mic pickup patterns and phase are your friends, here.

If it's a really dark snare or really bright cymbals or a drummer going wild on cymbal hits, apart from addressing these issues at the source (changing/tuning snare & wires, changing cymbals, restraining/educating/shouting at/changing drummer), use a bottom snare mic, and a very bright one at that - phase flipped of course.

And finally, be very careful that in wanting to angle the snare mic away from the hi-hat, U don't get into the situation where U're unwantingly angling it towards the ride, across the snare and on the other side of the kit by the toms (which is what I suspect happened here)!
It's like the old joke of the lady wanting to cover up her exposed breasts at the lakeside - by lifting up her skirt to cover them... or the guy holding his breath and sucking in his beerbelly - only to have his trousers drop and expose his butt!

Hope some of this helps.

Regards, Happy...snare & Happy Holidays,

Old 23rd December 2010
Gear Head
What an excellent post, I might say. You have inspired me to do better on this project, to prepare better in the near future with mic placement, and to prepare better in the long term with more creativity as additional mic options become available.

Thanks so much!
Old 23rd December 2010
yes this is where parallel compression and gating come in handy, andreaeffe is spot on. BTW this is also a case where retriggering can come in handy. What I like to do with retriggering, is get hit's from the drummer after you've dialed in
the sound during tracking. Then instead of using samples that everyone has, you have the hits of the drums that you've recorded, augmenting the sounds would be a snap.
Old 10th March 2011
For what it's worth it can be a musical sound to have the cymbals open up with a snare hit. Depends entirely on the performance and the track, but listen to something like Bulls on Parade by RATM/Andy Wallace as an example.
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