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How to Fix a Boxy Snare Sound

Dec 25, 2019

Sometimes your snare will have much of that “boxy” character, detracting from its punch. We offer 3 steps to fix the issue and get your snare punching like it should.

How to Fix a Boxy Snare Sound

Nobody wants their snare to sound like a wet box hit with a hot dog, so you’ll need a couple of mixing tricks that you can rely on to make your snare focused, clear, and punchy. You can fix a “boxy” snare using subtractive EQ, along with a quality transient shaper.

1. EQ Cuts Between 300-600 Hz

Fixing a “boxy” snare can sometimes be as simple as reaching for a parametric EQ like the H-EQ Hybrid Equalizer. “Boxiness” lives around the 300-600 Hz range of a snare, which means this should be your area of focus.

Apply a boost using a bell with a moderate bandwidth and sweep the band throughout the 300-600 Hz range. When the undesirable “boxy” characteristic amplifies, leave the band’s center frequency where it is and reduce the level of the band until the “boxiness” disappears.

2. Avoid Cutting Too Much

One of the main issues with cutting between 300-600 Hz is that it’s really easy to suck the meat out of a snare. If you use a bandwidth that’s too wide, you’ll end up with a snare that feels distinctly divided into two parts; low end and top end.

A narrow bandwidth generally works well for cutting resonances, but when you’re tone-sculpting your snare, use a wide bandwidth; the disconnect between your top end and bottom end will be less noticeable. Consider reaching for a musical EQ like the PuigTec EQP-1A when applying broad creative strokes to bring out maximum character.

3. Reduce Sustain Level

Sometimes you’re presented with a particularly “boxy” snare that won’t seem to behave. Most of a snare’s “boxy” characteristic is present within the tail end of the sample. If you want to deal with “boxiness” and make your snare punchier, reducing the snare’s sustain level can kill two birds with one stone.

Place a transient shaper like Smack Attack onto your snare, reduce the sustain level, and increase the attack if needed. Transient shapers are threshold level-independent tools, unlike compressors, which means they’re capable of applying consistent gain reduction to the tail-end of dynamic recordings, e.g. the snare track of a jazz drummer.

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