Triggering snare ambience

By March 12, 2008Mixing Tips And Tricks

It is common practice when mixing a song to send the snare drum to a reverb unit to get some “space” around the snare and give the listener a sense of depth with regards to the drums.  Even if only one element in the drum kit has some depth to it, it gives the perception of depth for the entire kit.

Rather than using a reverb unit, what we’re going to do instead is trigger a snare ambience sample.  The snare ambience sample is the sound of the room when someone has hit a snare drum in a reverberant environment.  This alternative to reverb can often provide a more realistic and believable sound, as well as adding extra power and depth to your drums.

How to do it

What I like to do is duplicate the snare track in my mix session and then instantiate a trigger plug-in over the ambience channel.  What the triggering plug-in will do is listen to the audio on the track (our original snare drum recording), and then whenever a transient is detected, trigger a sample (our ambience sample).  From there simply mix to taste underneath your original snare drum. It’s that easy!

You may need to tune the pitch of the snare ambience to match the sound of the snare drum and picking the right ambience sample can help complete the aural illusion.  There are plenty of snare ambience samples available on commercial sample CDs so if you take a look around you’ll find you’re spoilt for choice.  I also recommend using Slate Digital Trigger as the sample triggering plug-in.

Another trick is to use the snare ambience sample instead of the real recorded snare to trigger the reverb unit.  Doing this it’s possible to achieve a unique sound for your drum kit.

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