How Do You Variate The Sound Of Your Snares, If At All?


…am working on some hip hop’ish instrumentals at the moment and I’m getting sick of that stationary snare sound, meaning the same snare timbre every N lines.

There are different ways of achieving variation in the snare-sound department and I’m looking for options & tips here to keep snares fresh over time…I’m not talking about groove, although that brings in an important element of realism as well, but the main question is…

How do you variate your snare sound, if at all?

One way is to use a bunch of different velocity (multi)samples of the same kit over a tracks duration, maybe layer these underneath other snares. Or some people use a flanger on a very slow rate, slightly mixed with the original snare sound to create a sense of slowly modulating change.

You can use a lfo device in Renoise on a random setting and randomly variate a gainer device / volume within a certain range to variate the loudness every time a snare hits, but dealing with samples it won’t sound that realistic imo, at least for what I’m going for now.

Automating the tone of a reverb device on top could help as well, or do compression tricks maybe…but I’ve yet to dive into that kind of stuff to create the sound I’m imagining.

I want each snare sample to sound different from the last, while retaining recognition that it has the same origin, without having to use 1000’s of samples.

Ideally I’m looking for dsp chains or some automation method combo that can be applied to any snare hit and produce variation over time :slight_smile:

Anyone got some tips?

One word: Phaser.

try pitching some of them up/down by a semitone or less. combine that with sample offset usually works well.

that’s what I meant with flanger :slight_smile: and is a nice easy way to create change over time, but not a one stop solution for what I’m looking for.

Cheers, sample offset is something I haven’t used yet for this, and I can imagine cutting away the onset of the attack portion of the snare, by starting at a later offset can be a nice quick variation alternative, will try it out!

well, it is no automation tip or anything, but since your original question is broader (how do you variate the sound of your snares?), i’ll just answer that.

i just load up 5 or 6 different snares, combine them in different ways, different rhythms, combine them with 4-5 hihat-samples, and do pitching-stuff as well. for example, (at the risk of giving away one of my tricks, but who cares, i’m not famous anyway), lots of times playing your snare an octave down can sound pretty cool as a way of variation. i agree, it is crude variation, and i can do it because i don’t do hiphop with clear-cut beats, but at least it is a tip you could try out.

Sonic variation is critical. Jonas I’ve already posted a topic about this (using the chorus), check it out:

Yeah, all modulation effects work. But I have seen phaser to give the most realistic results. Flanger creates a bit artificial ring to the sound. Of course in the end it all depends on the settings, and the settings should be mild enough to cause different sound for different hits, but not be recognizable phaser/flanger/chorus.

Cheers, sample offset is something I haven’t used yet for this, and I can imagine cutting away the onset of the attack portion of the snare, by starting at a later offset can be a nice quick variation alternative, will try it out!

Yep it’s the way we usually do it on our tracks, …works well for us.

this of course depends on the type of music you are making. but it is something i haven’t tried before so will check it out, someday :)

sounds like they are using a phaser on the snare/clap in this track…

I use a 02XX effect with varying parameters, the more it drops the less punch it will generally have. It doesn’t work on all samples though, if it has a clear tone it will sound horrible, but if it s mostly noise driven it works like a charm. ^_^
(That and 09XX effects and ringmods at low frequencies and modulation)

I use lots of pattern commands on my snares. Most useful of them: 07xx, 01xx, 02xx and 09xx. At higher LPB you can get endless variations on the sound with those commands.

Use a drumsynth rather than a sample. Arguru Voyager is a good one for this.
Then you can add a bunch of LFOs to slightly alter several different parts of the sound (tone pitch, noise peak frequency, noise/tone mix) so all snares will be even more noticeably unique.

I also usually modulate the pitch of the whole snare channel to make the timing +/- about 5ms, ie. set the track delay to -5ms and add a chorus with a depth of 10ms, 100% wet, no feedback and a slow LFO <1 hz. The native renoise one or ‘Classic Chorus’ are good for this.

Infact, I do this to all drum channels and will often have 4-5 tracks each with their own instances of drumsynths and independent choruses for maximum uniquenessness.

This track is almost 100% voyager used in this way:

how about a simple lo-pass filter attached to either an lfo or a keytracker device so it makes variations in the cutoff for each snare hit? do the same with a lofi-mat Hz and/or bitrate, even possible before the filter in the chain. if you keep this subtle, it will probably work for you.

LFO on random low speed through hydra to multiple parameters.

Last one I set up has signal follow controlling Drive of Distortion, then random LFO to offset of the signal follower and tone of the distortion. Keep the values pretty low to keep it subtle though.

Count the snare hits in your track, and load that many different snare samples. Voila, variety!

Or just use the amen snare, because that never gets old. :drummer:

Or, or, count the snare hits in your track and replace them with that many different fart sounds, because that never gets old.

little bit of ring mod, use a one shot lfo triggered by the snare, or a signal follower to decay the intensity and the frequency. do the same with wet mix on a reverb device, automate or lfo the decay value on the signal follower or LPC on the LFO to keep things varied.

I’m playing a lot with enveloppe decay parameters (sometimes attack too) combined with low rate flanger effect.

When i really want something more complex, i use an EQ-10 with automated parameters…

  1. Your snare can gain significant sonic variation from dynamic control (i.e. compressors/maximizers/etc) on the master track. Depending on the cooperation between simultaneous sounding parts, your snare will sound and “feel” different, even if it’s the same sample. I spend large amounts of time simply adjust compressors, sometimes sidechaining, though never automating or using other effects. There’s no wrong way, but this way feels very clean and fun to me.

  2. when using a snare-clap combo (great sound for hip hop), keep your snare quantized; unquantized, tap/overlay a variety of very similar claps with a pad (adding the clap sounds in the same track as the quantized snare). The small variation in samples (e.g. sample your own clap 3-5 times) + the human delay offsets creates a unique sample for every overlay you create. Try to stay as close to the metronome as possible, and you’ve just created an entire pattern with unique snare-claps with your own human touch.