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The Biggest Problem Mixing

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by stonewall, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    Out of all the things that could give you trouble having a great mix i find in almost every band i have been in since i started is the SNARE drum.Ive been doing sound from stage for at least 30 years of course i can do better from sitting at a board out front but for alot of us thats not something we can afford.I do what i would call a simple mix everyone give me their on stage sound there liking once they mess for a quick moment i will add them lightly in the board trying to mimic there stage tones perfectly a nice punchy wet kick tom 1,2 floor tom get the drummer to give me a beat a couple rolls nothing loud just a nice blend and balanced mix.Never can i mic the snare i want to but i cant put a mic up there to minus volume it would be just for show.This summer we have played 5 or 6 outdoor gigs not one of them could i put a mic on the snare.I dont think drummers realize how loud a snare is im not bashing im more curious is it maybe their head is almost straight above the snare and they cant hear the bottom of the snare ?i dont know it just seems very comon with more than just one drummer i know.Does anyone else experience this?
  2. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I agree. It seems like the snare drum either sounds really good or really bad and there's not a lot you can do at the board to fix it. More than any other piece of the kit it seems like you really need to have good sound at the source which comes from a good snare drum, with the right heads, correctly tuned and played with the right technique. That's a pretty rare combination, unfortunately.

    Also, I have found that I sometimes am at odds with my bandmates (we mix our own sound) as to how loud the snare should be. A couple of them just like it pounding in the mix whereas I'm more a guy who wants it to be there, but not in your face.

    I also have a hard time getting acoustic guitar to sound good in a full band mix and from other bands I've heard, it seems like that's pretty common. It's either too bassy/boomy or too clicky.
  3. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    There are many reasons you don't have to mic the snare. The biggest one is that it is bleeding into just about every other live microphone. It usually is loud enough in the overhead mics and the tom mics. Try this if you get the chance: once you have all the levels set for the rest of the band, leave the mics on and the master fader up. Then, have just the drummer play and listen to how much the snare drum is in all of the other live mics by standing in front of one of the speakers.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Generally, if you see a drum kit where the snare looks exactly like the other drums, you're probably fighting an uphill battle to get a good sound out of it. As multiple drummers have told me, the snare drum is where a lot of drum makers cut corners and that's why the "stock" snare drums that are included with so many kits sound like dog squeeze. There are exceptions of course, but virtually every drummer I've worked with who's legit is playing a higher-end snare that they bought independent of the rest of the kit.
  5. Yep - I agree - see way too many drummers obsessing over cymbal stands that are using a P.O.S. snare - too funny
  6. stonewall


    Jun 14, 2010
    For some reason im a little nervous to say something to the drummers i dont want to get anyone bent out of shape.I think im going to invite the drummer to come out front during sound check and let him hear his sound.Although i do agree alot of bleed... even without PA some drummer have a very tight bright snare that is very tough to deal with especially if he sings.One drummer i played with had a in expensive kit he had Black Evans oil filled i believe nice dead tuning no overtones before mic,ing his snare before PA nice woody warm full fat not bright sound kinda like flatwounds LOL...didnt need a mic on the snare what a great sound woody n warm snap so in that case bleed was OK.Does anyone know is it the skin or the snare underneath thingy,s that make a snare bright?
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Yep, often more than one.
  8. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Snares can be as tricky to get right as vocals. It sure helps if you have a drummer who has a well tuned, good sounding snare. Just like it helps to have a singer who has a good sounding voice naturally and has mic control.

    If you have a drummer who has a crap sounding snare, just like if you have a singer who's voice doesn't sound very sweet naturally.....perhaps they shouldn't sound that sweet in the mix either???

    It's only a louder representation of what they're already doing.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Why ANY drummer wouldn't get a cheap headphone amp and use it as a monitor is beyond me. That way, they can hear everything clearly and quit bring the hammer down on their drums.
  10. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    As a former drummer, I can say the issue lies squarely on the shoulders of the drummer. Bad tuning and poor choice of drum heads are the main issues most snare sounds suck. I can't believe how badly many drummers tune their drums....many sadly have never learned. A well tuned snare is the key to everything and contrary to some of the posts here you don't need a high end drum to get a good sound. You can make a high end snare sound just as bad as a cheap snare. And it is not that hard to tune properly but can you imagine a bass player telling a drummer how to tune his drums????
  11. jaguarette


    Sep 25, 2013
    Wow. Point taken. I am a drummer too and due to time constraints i literally play for 30mins a week in a church worship team & spend 0mins on maintenance. As a result everything sounds horrid, particularly the snare. What is the best way to tune? I use 2 methods: top skin tight & bottom skin loosened until the ringing sound stops, or just tune opposing nuts by ear until pitch is the same.
  12. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    I like to mic the snare and have the hi-hat bleed into it.

    The big difference is the drummers that I have the pleasure to work with are very good musicians.

    They listen, and play accordingly. The band sounds very good without PA support, the PA just gets the sound out to the audience.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    That's a workable approach if you have limited mics and/or channels, but it does constrain your options as far as EQ since the two pieces operate in significantly different frequencies so you kind of have to split the difference between the two.

    But again, so much of it tuning, mic placement and technique. I have heard a drum kit with 3 mics (kick and 2 overheads) sound amazing and I have heard kits with every piece mic'd sound like garbage.
  14. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    I have lots of potential tips I can give you...but some depend on what type of snare you are playing and the sound you are going for. I would not recommend loosening the snare side head to remove ring. Keep the snare side head consistently tight. And one mistake I have seen is people assume that the snare side head lasts forever because you don't hit it. The problem is that it loses it's flexibility over time so if it is old, change it. The top head should be selected based on the sound you want and the shell type you have. In general, for less ring, go with a two ply like an emperor....and then you can go up from there. But there are many other head options. Every drum has a sweet spot that you must learn to hit in the tuning. If you don't get there the drum sounds dull and lifeless and if you over tighten the drum gets choked. Those are a few simple tips. If you want more direction or advice based on your situation feel free to PM me and I will help you as best as I can.
  15. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
  16. jaguarette


    Sep 25, 2013
    Hey man thx for the tips. Let me clarify - i meant the toms when i said i loosen the bottom skin. I've never touched the bottom skin on any snare. I should probably change the bottom skin in our 2 snares @ church. I think its been on for a loooong time.
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  18. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    I mic the snare(s) AND the hi hat(s). That's right, my drummer has TWO of each. He also has two floor toms, two basses and multiple hi toms. And I mic everything.

    Anyway, I never have any problems with the snares. I don't know why, or why you are having problems. Maybe getting your own soundguy or a wireless so you can go out front and listen would help. Quality mics and quality drums are a must as well. Good luck.
  19. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Steve (drummer) uses one overhead in addition to the kick drum mic. This is complemented by whatever content is picked up by the vocal mics and is subject to whatever vocal FX processing (i.e delay / reverb) is active. Actually, it makes for a pleasing mix given that we're limited by mixer size.

    FTR, he uses the "2 drumsticks' length" from the snare head for positioning. It's been my experience that "triggered" drum kits can sound really bad in the wrong hands.


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