A quick way to fatten up your snare is not only to make it more prone in the low-mid area, but also to give it an extra push with a reverb. It is not a new trick, Phil Collins really made it well known back in the 80’s, but it certainly is very effective when used properly. The effect is much heard in rock and metal. But don’t let that hold you back to use it in a dance production also!
Instead of using a preset, here we’ll explain how to make your own gated reverb.
First of, take the sound of a snare and adjust its length. Most snare tend to have a ‘ring’ or tone which lasts longer than you’d most probably like . You can shorten it by a simple cut after each hit at the correct position; much easier is it to use a gate on your channel. Wel’ll be using a RChannel from Waves to achieve this. The main advantage of using a complete channel for this, is that all the common tools are right there in a single plugin and in the right order. By adjusting the threshold of the gate you can easily adjust the amount of ‘ring’.
Once you’ve given it the right length, it is time for the reverb bit.
Do you remember the time
Add a fx channel to your daw and insert you favorite reverb to it. The goal of this reverb is to fatten up the sound. Keep in mind that the reverb is stereo and so the result is a wide snaresound in total. Choose a preset that sounds wide, or with enough ‘noise’-information so it really adds character to your snare. Try to avoid the deepest lowend that some reverbs generate though. A nice startingpoint can be a Hall or Plate preset.
Now send the snare track to the FX channel by using an aux. Set the levels accordingly.
The reverb has a reverbtime (RT) which in most cases is longer than it has to be. This is okay; we are after the sound of the reverb instead of using a reverb to create depth, which we normally would want to achieve.
Now, we want the total hit to be longer than the actual clean snare but short enough so it won’t overlap with the next hit. To make the RT shorter we could adjust its RT time in the plugin, but then the reverb would give us a room-ish sound. Not quite the sound we need. We want it to fill time with reverbnoise and not with realism.
The trick and the treat
Now this is the exciting part; add a gate to your FX-channel right after the reverb plugin. Make sure that it is a gate which can handle a sidechain input. Activate the sidechain input on your gateplugin and feed the gate with the signal coming from your snaretrack.
The gate will now open when the snare starts and it will close when the level of the snare is below the threshold of your gate.
As the stick hits the snare the reverb will be audible until the gate after the reverb closes. The length of the gatereverb is adjustable by editting the threshold of the gate on the FX channel track.
Wide or mono
Although your reverb in first instance will be stereo, it is advised to make a gated reverb also in mono. A stereo reverb tends not to glue directly to your snare, it is like listening to a snare with a wide noisegenerator.
To avoid having two sounds that do not blend, you could make the gated reverb mono. This way it immediately becomes part of the snare. Now you do have two sounds blended together and you can easily adjust each sound, impact and length.
Listen to the included sample; it plays a clean snare hit, a mono gated reverb and a stereo gated reverb.
Ofcourse, you could make a blend of a mono and a stereo gated reverb, that adds even more character. Try to make it so that the gated reverb blends with your snare, not just an effect that is activated by the snare. When used properly it really makes a world of difference!