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Microphone Month 5

Enhancing Snare Drum Attack

Q: I’ve got a snare drum track in my mix that just sort of lays there; it’s thuddy and doesn’t have much attack or presence. I’ve tried compressing it, but that just makes it sound “flatter.” Anything I can do to fix it?

A: There are several ways to address this, but it sounds like some parametric EQ might be in order. Try boosting a band with a narrowish peak around 2.5kHz. Turn up the gain by 10dB or so, then sweep the frequency of the EQ up and down to find the “crack” or attack of the stick hitting the drum head. Once you’ve found the frequency, adjust the EQ boost to taste. Usually just a couple of dB is enough to lift the attack of the drum up.

You may also want to experiment with opening up the top end a bit, so you can hear the snares more. This will enhance the brightness. Add a shelf at about 6kHz and boost a few dB. Again, sweep the frequency to find the spot where the snares lift out and the sound becomes brighter, but you’re not hearing harshness.

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