Posted on 02. Mar, 2016 by Daniel Duskin (Record Producer, Mixing & Mastering Engineer) in Mixing, Saturation, Ssh!This is part of a series on getting a professional snare sound without samples.
Saturation is one of the biggest recording and mixing secrets to getting a professional mix, because it’s rarely talked about, and it’s used regularly on recording & mixing services for major label recordings and mixes.
It should be very educational to inform you that most great drum sample libraries have tape—or equivalent—saturation baked into those samples.
You’ll want to pick a saturation technique that will not only saturate—and even clip at extreme levels—but will also introduce a 3rd order harmonic in the lower frequencies. Saturation that typically does this is tape saturation, and large transformer saturation. The lower 3rd order harmonic will beef up the bottom, the additional broad band harmonic distortion will fill out the sound, and the clipping (if pushed) can help make a snare “crack” and reduce overs down the chain in mixing.
Be gentle with adding saturation.
A barely audible dose can go a long way!
If you over-do it, it’s easy to destroy a good thing, and often hard to go back.
Three of my favorite plugins for this task are by Universal Audio—the Studer A800, the Ampex ATR102, and the Empirical Labs Fatso. Lately, I’ve been reaching for the Fatso the most.