#1
One thing I've noticed in my years of recording is that very few engineers are shy of telling you how they get their sound on an instrument. Yopu can know the chain, have the gear, but knowing when that chain works in a mix is the most important thing to know.

What I want to do is see how you guys approach processing chains, and maybe we can build up a group of people who are willing to help each other.

So, I'll be super brave here and provide my usual hard rock/metal snare top signal chain, placed in order and adjusted to the mix:

Pre-processed, with overheads. I don't solo instruments out when mixing; I mix in place, so everything is going on at all times. It makes a more natural mix. If something isn't fitting in, then I'll solo out to see what's happening with it.

https://soundcloud.com/blockroom-recordings/snare-with-overheads-no-chain/s-AejKx

But, to satisfy, snare solo, no processing:

https://soundcloud.com/blockroom-recordings/snare-solo-no-processing/s-jCnj0



The ProTools gate. Set to tame the bleed, not eliminate it. The bleed keeps the snare sounding natural and not over-processed.



The ProTools compressor. Again, it's set to tame the more... violent hits. Again, we want those to come through with how they will interact with the next 2 plugs.



AIR Harmonic Enhancer. This really posts the 2nds and 3rd order harmonics, giving the top and bottom of the snare a very smooth snap and body. For this specific song, I cranked the DEPTH to max to liven the snare up as it was a little clinical. Other than that, I always throw this on and crank the HIGH GAIN and LOW GAIN with out adjusting anything else.



Focusrite RED2 EQ. The High Pass is actually set to 30hz, not Off. I crank the low shelf at about 120 and USUALLY crank the high shelf at 6-8kHz to gfet some definition to the snare. In this case, the AIR HE covered the high-end, but the drummer was using a 12" snare, so I only cranked the Low shelf in this. Put a roll off at 14kHz, and that cuts on the hi-hat sizzle.



Focusrite RED3 Comp. 1.8 ratio, medium-fast attack, slow release, decent threshold, 15dB of make up and most importantly, 50/50 mix. So what this is doing is getting the snare and squashing it, and with the slow release, the cymbal bleed doesn't have time to build up between hits, so it stays low in the snare signal. This is paramount to keeping the snare forward and the wash to a background noise that blends into the set.

The most common mistake on snare is people set a SUPER fast attach and fast release. What that does is causes the compressor to hit the snare immediately (loosing the smack of the snare) and immediately bringing the noise floor up after the threshold is lost. This makes a thin, weak snare sound that has no impact in the mix and washes out the Overhead's definition and makes that disgusting bleed in the middle of the track. Compressors are the HARDEST signal processors to master. Compression is the most difficult effect to get right. Practice practice practice. Always.



Lately it's used the Bombfactory 1176 instead of the usual SSL LMC-1 that I used to use (and will use some 1176 compressor until the LMC-1 is made as AAX). This is the last processor in the chain, and the hardest to set. The settings you will use here are completely determined on the guitar tone. Too much will fatten the snare out and cause it to get lost in the guitars. Too little and well, nothing happens but a bit of noise floor. Here I did moderate input and output, a relatively quick attach (the 1176 is not known for overly fast attack anyways) and a moderate release. This is letting the initial attack of the snare through and letting the compressor come back natrually without pumping the wash. a 12-1 ratio fattens the snap up nicely. A fun trick for an effect on your snare if you have an 1176 plugin is to hold Shift and click any of the ratio buttons. This emulates the 'ALL BUTTONS IN HULK SMASH SIGNAL' that is quite disgusting trashy and fun. Crank your input and gradually bring up your output and you will have the trashiest thing ever. Try this on duplicated room mics for drums and super clean bass guitar.


Post Processing, with overheads:

https://soundcloud.com/blockroom-recordings/snare-with-overheads-processed/s-F69GS

Post Processing, solo:

https://soundcloud.com/blockroom-recordings/snare-processed-solo/s-HiixG

In place in the rest of the mix. I think the mix is a tad bass heavy, but it's a starting point:

https://soundcloud.com/blockroom-recordings/processed-snare-in-the-mix/s-WqmHT


With this, you may have noticed that I'm not using any fancy plugins... you don't need to! If you have ears and can get the feel of a song, you can use whatever is built into your DAW to get results. I could have used some Waves plugins, but honestly didn't need to. Other than the snare beings somewhat flat when tracked, it was good, clean signal.


What chains do you guys have?
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#2
First off, I love this idea. It might also be helpful if you provide a 'before' and 'after' sound clip of some sort on dropbox or soundcloud or something.
Secondly- i dont think you mentioned where your snare source came from. I know you said its a 'snare top'; but did you mic an actual snare, or is it sampled, ezdrummer, ect? Because depending on where it came from really dictates what you need and how much you need. Also, it would be nice if you provided what you use for reverb for the snare, what you like using for your metal mixes

I will say, that seems like a lot of processing for a snare, but i guess thats why the before and after would be helpful, id love to hear the sound you ended up with.

Id like to participate in this too, so ill try to get some chains together. I could actually use this as a critique my chain type thing, because i know im not the best mixer
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#3
Quote by Watterboy
First off, I love this idea. It might also be helpful if you provide a 'before' and 'after' sound clip of some sort on dropbox or soundcloud or something.
Secondly- i dont think you mentioned where your snare source came from. I know you said its a 'snare top'; but did you mic an actual snare, or is it sampled, ezdrummer, ect? Because depending on where it came from really dictates what you need and how much you need. Also, it would be nice if you provided what you use for reverb for the snare, what you like using for your metal mixes

I will say, that seems like a lot of processing for a snare, but i guess thats why the before and after would be helpful, id love to hear the sound you ended up with.

Id like to participate in this too, so ill try to get some chains together. I could actually use this as a critique my chain type thing, because i know im not the best mixer


Good points. The snare in this case is an actual snare, recorded with a Heil HE30 into a Digimax.

Edit: added samples of Pre, Post, and in Mix
Quote by Watterboy
Do you have any dilithium crystals or fresh warm dumps for sale
Last edited by the chemist at Jul 28, 2016,