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Building the mix from the snare

From: Audio Mixing Bootcamp

Video: Building the mix from the snare

The snare drum is the pulse of the song, which is why so many mixers like to build their drum mix around it. In this movie, I am going to show you how to start with the snare first and build your mix from there. When we start with the snare drum usually what happens is it winds up being more prominent in the mix. Now, you might want that, and that's a reason why you want to start with the snare. Many people just feel more comfortable starting with it because it is the pulse of the song. Either way, here's how we do it. You'll take notice that there's two snare tracks: one with a snare top and one with a snare bottom.

Building the mix from the snare

The snare drum is the pulse of the song, which is why so many mixers like to build their drum mix around it. In this movie, I am going to show you how to start with the snare first and build your mix from there. When we start with the snare drum usually what happens is it winds up being more prominent in the mix. Now, you might want that, and that's a reason why you want to start with the snare. Many people just feel more comfortable starting with it because it is the pulse of the song. Either way, here's how we do it. You'll take notice that there's two snare tracks: one with a snare top and one with a snare bottom.

The snare top means there is a mic on the top of the snare, and the snare bottom means there is a mic underneath the snare that's capturing the sound of the snares themselves. Just as when we started with the kick, we're going to bring the snare top channel up so it reads about -10 on the master meters. (music playing) Now it might go a little above and it might go a little below -10, but it's where the average is.

Somewhere around -10 is good. If it's a little above, it's okay; if it's a little below, that's okay too. Now, we're going to bring the bottom of the snare, or as it says, SNARE bot, which is the snare bottom mic. We are going to bring that up until we can just about hear it. (music playing) If we mute it, we can hear the difference. (music playing) Now since before we created a group for the snare, now we're going to engage that, and that means that with the movement of one fader, we can move the level of both of them up and down.

(music playing) Now, we're going to introduce the kick into the mix. We're going to use the Kick in channel, and that means it's the microphone that's inside the kick drum. I am going to use that one first because it has the most definition. I am going to bring that up so it's about the same level as the snare top mic. (music playing) Now, when I say the same level, what that means is not the same level on the fader, but the same level relatively speaking of what you're listening to.

So it's what you're hearing, they should be about equal in level, and not the channels being equal in how far up or down they are. We're going to do the same thing with the Kick out channel that we did with the snare bottom channel. We're going to bring it up until it's just about to the level that we can hear it. If it's too loud, it's going to sound too big and it's going to overpower the kick in mic and the snare drum. So we're going to bring it up until we can just about barely hear it. (music playing) It's easier to hear when you have bigger speakers that go lower.

So you have to be careful with this if you're listening on headphones or if you're listening on very, very small speakers, like computer speakers, because it's very easy to bring this up so it's too loud and it overpowers everything else. If that's the case, just bring it up so you can barely hear it, and in some cases if you can't really tell, you're better off not to use it at all. Now that we have both kicks in, what we're going to do is engage the group that we created previously. So now that allows us to change the level of kick drums with just one fader.

(music playing) Now, I am going to bring the overhead channels in. What that's going to do is it's going to change the sound of the kick and the snare. But the real secret here is to bring it in just enough that you can hear the sound of the cymbals, and what you're looking for is some sort of definition. In order to do this, I am going to go to a memory location that I've already noted that has a lot of cymbals. The way I am going to do that is I am going to bring up my Memory palette, and that's Command+5.

It brings in the memory locations. I am going to hit Drum Fill, and it's going to take us exactly where we need to go. Now let's listen without listening to the overheads. (music playing) You can hear the cymbals, but they are very subdued. Now, we're going to bring up the left overhead, so we can hear that with more definition. (music playing) Let's bring up the right overhead as well.

We're still listening in mono, by the way. We'll get into panning in the next series of movies. (music playing) Now, you can hear the definition of those crash cymbals and that's exactly what we want. Now, let's move on to the toms. The first thing I am going to do is bring up tom number two--that's the middle tom--and listen to how everything changes with that tom. All of a sudden, the sound of the kick and the sound of the snare is going to change, just by the fact that the channel is up. (music playing) Listen to tom number one, the same thing.

We'll bring it up to about the same level. (music playing) Now you can really hear it there. There's a lot of rumble from that tom. The kick drum and the snare drum are actually setting that tom off. It's actually ringing as we're going. That's perfectly normal, and what you're going to hear is a lot of different leakage coming from those tom mics, which is going to change the sound of the rest of the drums, but in fact that's normal. What we're going to try to do now is get the level of the toms, so when we hear that fill, all of the toms are going to be at about the same level when they are hit.

Here we go! (music playing) Let's listen to that again. (music playing) Let's listen one more time. (music playing) If you take notice as we listen, you can still hear the hi-hat, even though the Hat channel is still at 0.

Now, sometimes that's perfect for the song, but other times you'd like to have it either louder in the mix or you want to hear more definition. So let's just listen to it without the hat channel even in the mix. Listen for the hi-hat. (music playing) Now, let's bring the hi-hat in. (music playing) Mute it for a second. (music playing) The idea here is to bring it in just enough that you can hear the definition.

Finally, there is one channel that's still not in the mix, and that's the Room channel. Sometimes there is only one room mic; sometimes there's two, for stereo; sometimes there's three, which are left, center, and right. The idea of the room mics is to make it sound bigger and fatter and fuller and add some glue that you can't get any other way. Once again, the ideal level is just about when you can hear it. If it gets too loud, the sound of the drums begins to sound trashy; if it's too low, you won't hear it at all. Let's bring that up now.

(music playing) The idea here is that room mic will not only give you some glue, but it gives you some extra ambience from the room.

The better the room sounds, the better the ambience sounds. So that's how we build the mix around the snare drum. Usually when you build it this way the snare will be more prominent in the mix than if you started with another instrument. Keep in mind that it's all going to change as we add more instruments, as we add compression, as we add EQ, even as we add effects like reverb and even some delay. Those will all help change the balance of what we have here, but this is the beginning balance since where we start from and everything else will be tweaked from there.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Audio Mixing Bootcamp
Audio Mixing Bootcamp

103 video lessons · 19806 viewers

Bobby Owsinski
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 16s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
  2. 8m 20s
    1. Determining the listening position
      2m 27s
    2. Fixing acoustic problems
      2m 5s
    3. Setting up your monitors
      3m 48s
  3. 20m 17s
    1. Setting up your session
      5m 52s
    2. Setting up your subgroups
      7m 50s
    3. Setting up your effects
      6m 35s
  4. 8m 45s
    1. Developing the groove
      3m 46s
    2. Emphasizing the most important elements
      3m 44s
    3. Knowing what to avoid
      1m 15s
  5. 1h 4m
    1. Learning the principles of building a mix
      1m 1s
    2. Assigning the drums to a subgroup
      3m 55s
    3. Building the mix from the kick
      10m 8s
    4. Building the mix from the snare
      8m 46s
    5. Building the mix from the toms
      5m 25s
    6. Building the mix from the overhead mics
      3m 53s
    7. Checking the drum phase
      4m 44s
    8. Balancing direct and miked bass channels
      3m 36s
    9. Building the mix from the bass
      3m 26s
    10. Building the mix from the vocals
      4m 19s
    11. Balancing the rhythm section
      2m 44s
    12. Balancing the rest of the instruments with the rhythm section
      5m 22s
    13. Making a mix without building it
      4m 20s
    14. Balancing the harmony vocals
      2m 35s
  6. 23m 2s
    1. Looking at the three main panning areas
      9m 23s
    2. Panning the drums
      6m 9s
    3. Avoiding pseudo-stereo
      7m 30s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding compressor parameters
      3m 42s
    2. Setting up the compressor
      14m 44s
    3. Compressing the drums
      7m 53s
    4. Compressing the room mics
      4m 9s
    5. Compressing the bass
      5m 24s
    6. Using the New York compression trick
      4m 23s
    7. Compressing the clean electric guitars
      4m 40s
    8. Compressing the distorted electric guitars
      4m 48s
    9. Compressing the acoustic guitars
      8m 7s
    10. Compressing the piano
      6m 35s
    11. Compressing the electric keyboards
      4m 32s
    12. Compressing the vocals
      4m 34s
    13. Compressing the horns
      3m 55s
  8. 25m 36s
    1. Learning noise gate basics
      9m 23s
    2. Using the noise gate on guitars
      3m 57s
    3. Using the noise gate on drums
      7m 38s
    4. Learning de-esser basics
      2m 15s
    5. Using the de-esser on vocals
      2m 23s
  9. 36m 4s
    1. Understanding equalizer parameters
      10m 16s
    2. Learning subtractive equalization
      8m 57s
    3. Learning frequency juggling
      8m 28s
    4. Using the magic high-pass filter
      7m 39s
    5. Learning the principles of equalization
      44s
  10. 49m 46s
    1. Equalizing the kick
      6m 7s
    2. Equalizing the snare
      2m 57s
    3. Equalizing the rack toms
      5m 4s
    4. Equalizing the floor tom
      4m 32s
    5. Equalizing the hi-hat
      4m 56s
    6. Equalizing the cymbal or the overhead mics
      6m 49s
    7. Equalizing the room mics
      5m 13s
    8. Equalizing the bass
      3m 59s
    9. Editing the bass rhythm
      4m 21s
    10. Equalizing the rhythm section
      5m 48s
  11. 47m 58s
    1. Equalizing the electric guitar
      8m 15s
    2. Equalizing the acoustic guitar
      4m 55s
    3. Equalizing the hand percussion
      3m 28s
    4. Equalizing the lead vocals
      6m 5s
    5. Equalizing the background vocals
      4m 14s
    6. Equalizing the piano
      4m 46s
    7. Equalizing the organ
      6m 49s
    8. Equalizing the strings
      6m 4s
    9. Equalizing the horns
      3m 22s
  12. 30m 47s
    1. Learning the principles of reverb
      1m 59s
    2. Understanding reverb parameters
      6m 49s
    3. Timing the reverb to the track
      6m 6s
    4. Equalizing the reverb
      2m 51s
    5. Using the two-reverb quick setup
      5m 35s
    6. Using the three-reverb setup
      7m 27s
  13. 59m 8s
    1. Adding reverb to the drums
      7m 56s
    2. Adding reverb to the vocals
      11m 59s
    3. Adding reverb to the guitars
      5m 17s
    4. Adding reverb to the piano
      4m 19s
    5. Adding reverb to the organ
      3m 43s
    6. Adding reverb to the strings
      5m 36s
    7. Adding reverb to the horns
      2m 57s
    8. Adding reverb to the percussion
      4m 46s
    9. Using reverb to layer the mix
      12m 35s
  14. 46m 8s
    1. Learning delay principles
      1m 40s
    2. Understanding delay parameters
      6m 54s
    3. Timing the delay to the track
      1m 28s
    4. Using delay timing variations
      2m 51s
    5. Equalizing the delay
      4m 23s
    6. Understanding the Haas effect
      2m 51s
    7. Using the three-delay setup
      7m 23s
    8. Adding delay to the vocals
      8m 43s
    9. Using delay to layer the mix
      9m 55s
  15. 21m 35s
    1. Understanding the types of modulation
      2m 43s
    2. Understanding modulation parameters
      4m 13s
    3. Modulating the guitars
      4m 7s
    4. Modulating the keyboards
      3m 17s
    5. Modulating the vocals
      4m 17s
    6. Modulating the strings
      2m 58s
  16. 12m 22s
    1. Mixing with subgroups
      5m 5s
    2. Using mix buss compression
      4m 21s
    3. Understanding the evils of hypercompression
      2m 56s
  17. 39s
    1. Goodbye
      39s

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