VIDEO: Recording Snare – Mics, Placement & EQ

recording snare with eq

Today I’m going to show you a couple of things to consider when recording a snare drum.

You would think it is one of the easiest drums to record, and it can be – if you do everything right while setting up.

But there are number of things you can do to make sure you get the best out of recording the most important drum so that it really cuts through the mix.

Here’s the video:

Replace Your Drum Heads And Tune The Snare

As with all drums when recording, make sure you replace your drum heads beforehand and tune them.

Getting the drums to sound great in the room before any mics are set up is the most important step.

The Right Microphone For Recording Snare

Placement isn’t that much of an issue. The snare has a lot of power, as long as you are close up pointing somewhere towards the middle, you are going to get a decent sound.

So I’ve got a Shure SM57, a Sennheiser MD421, an AKG C414 and a Røde NT55 set up here to give you a comparison of the different sounds you can get with different mics.

By the way, I have put together a PDF with 4-5 different microphones that you can use for each drum. From rock to metal, folk, pop and jazz – forget the endless forum research, this is the definitive guide!

Click here to get the PDF sent straight to your inbox!

I will show you a bit later on what we can do with EQ on the way in to really sharpen up the sound and get it to sound how we expect are snare to sound.

As you can hear, the SM57 sounds a bit flat in comparison to the others.

The MD421 sounds quite neutral with a bit more body, as does the C414.

The NT55 has a lot more high end and less lower mids.

So now I’m going to show you what you can do with EQ to really sharpen up the snare sound.

Using EQ To Sculpt The Snare Sound Before Pressing Record

Using EQ during the recording stage is almost as important as getting the drums sounding right in the room beforehand.

If you start with your drums EQd and sounding fantastic, you will spend a lot less time trying to wrestle them into sounding good during mixing.

And if you realise something isn’t quite right and can’t be fixed with EQ, you have the freedom to go and tweak a mic position – a luxury you don’t have during the mixing stage.

As you can see, I have added roughly the same amount of EQ to the same frequencies on each mic.

As we are only using one mic, I have boosted a fair bit of high end and boosted at around 4kHz.

Then to give the snare more body, I’ve boosted the fundamental frequency that is around 150Hz.

Listen to each mic and see how different they sound.

The SM57 does sound a lot more convincing with EQ, but still doesn’t match up to the clarity and warmth of the MD421 despite it being THE GO TO MIC for recording snare.

The C414 has good definition and body and the NT55 is giving the others a run for their money too.

I would probably go for the MD421 on the snare top and one of the condensers on the side to bring out some extra body and crack.

Extra Tips For Recording Snare

  • Adding a microphone underneath will bring out the high end of the snare, but make sure you flip the phase later on to avoid phase cancellation and a thin sounding snare.
  • Adding a condenser mic on the side can really add some body as well as some nice transients that tend to get lost on microphone close up.

Hope you enjoyed the comparison of the mics and what you can do with EQ to really spice up the sound.

Catch you next time!

About The Author

Nick Braren is an audio engineer and musician with over 15 years experience in the studio, on stage, back stage and front of house. He is the owner and operator of Upaya Sound, guitarist and vocalist of Vandemonian, father of 2 and husband of 1. When he’s not in the studio or in the band room he’s either travelling in his van or at the beach – or both.

Mixing Engineer




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