Join Larry Crane for an in-depth discussion in this video Repair bad snare with the Pro Tools Multiband Splitter, part of Music Production Secrets.
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- [Voiceover] I get sent a lot of drum tracks to mix that have been recorded in somewhat less than ideal situations and when the snare drum sounds really bad, especially with like bad ringing or bad placement of the microphone, I tend to use the Multiband Splitter to fix this. I used to use a crossover, a physical analog crossover in the analog realm for this kind of work where I could split a track into, like, three different bands; lows, mids, and highs, and then process those all separately, bring them up on separate faders. In the digital realm, we can do this as well.
Here's the track that we intentionally recorded really poorly. (drumming) And that's pretty ring-y and crazy right there. So let's go and set this up. In Pro Tools HD it comes with this or you can buy this if you don't have HD, and it is the Pro Multiband Splitter. What we get here is we get this four band crossover, basically, where it'll break it up into different frequencies. So I've opened it up, it's just set as default setting.
What we have to do next is to create aux tracks for these four bands to come up and so we're gonna go here new, four, mono, aux (mumbles), I always accidentally leave that in audio tracks and then I have to delete them and luckily today, I did this properly and just, for our own sake, I always name these because you can get pretty confused. The snare low, snare low mid, snare high mid, and snare high and then we have to go and assign these channels.
The Multiband Splitter pops up right here under plugins under your inputs of these channels and it's all labeled, really easy. Once you do this once, you'll never forget. The kind of non-intuitive things is you need to turn down your original track because it's now being sent to these. Well, you might want a parallel situation where you want to leave this in but generally you want to pull this down and just work from these band split tracks now. So let's go through and hear what we've got.
(drumming) Low frequencies. (drumming) Maybe that's the ring frequency. Little bit of pop there, and all the sizzly stuff. So it's great, go through here now and let's tune in what we want. (drumming) A kind of low component of the snare right there. Then let's go for like, the next ray part of it.
You can see the energy levels here, too. There's that ring just poking out. It's wider than you would think because it's actually a fundamental with several harmonics rising up above it. Let's get a little crack. (drumming) You hear more rings in the higher. That's a real mid-range-y guy there and then this should be lots of sizzle.
It's picking up the high hat. The crispy part of the snare. The simple, first thing you can do is just start pulling some of these down, like, as if they're just graphic equalizers. (drumming) Listen to that. (drumming) Notice how much of what we pick up about the snares really in that crazy high frequency.
(drumming) So what I'll start doing is putting compression on these channels. I like doing this, especially for the low part here, keep that steady and keep it in focused in the picture. Think of this all like framing a photograph or something and putting something around it that puts it in a perspective so in this case, I want a little more slap and good stuff happening in the low part of this snare.
You can hear that already. The only thing I just thought about before this was hear that kick drum? You can hear the kick coming through the snare mic. Let's just cut some of this out here. (drumming) Little steeper. Compress it. (drumming) You gotta be careful you're not bringing up too much of the kick drum tone and compressing that, although that could help as well in the final mix, so what's this guy doing.
Let's copy this compressor over and that's the ping pong guy, huh. Speed this up. (drumming) Let's do the same kind of thing here. Let's put a single-band EQ and let's cut. (drumming) Steep Q. (drumming) How's this going here.
All right, still slammin' a little bit. Okay, how about this. Let's copy this over. When I'm copying, I'm just holding down the option key and just sliding the guy right over. Make a few changes. Boy, sounds like a lid to a metal garbage can, right? So once again, I'm gonna put a little EQ on this guy and make it sound a little less harsh. (drumming) Let's see if that...
You don't need a lot of that guy anymore. (drumming) So let's check this out. Let's go back to the original, what do we have here. (drumming) Or. (drumming) So you can see how we can control and start tightening up the snare sound and controlling the highs and the lows, bringing more interest to the track and getting a little more pop out of it.
It's not always the perfect answer but it can save and salvage tracks that have been recorded a little poorly or microphones have slipped or moved into funny places and, you know, where a drummer hasn't tuned their snare real well, in this case. So try this out, it can save a poorly tracked thing, it can really help you out in the mix and you can apply this to other sources as well.
These tutorials work with any DAW, in almost every recording scenario, and are based on Larry's 20+ years of experience recording, producing, and mixing some of the world's best musicians, including Sleater-Kinney, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, She & Him, Jolie Holland, and Stephen Malkmus. Tune in every week for another tip.