3 Crucial Church Snare Drum Mixing and EQ Tips


Mixing drums in live worship music can be really difficult. Not only are you battling the mix of the entire band – the room you’re in has limitations regardless of how small or big of a space it is. On top of that, the mics used, sound equipment installed, and mixing board will all play a role in the final sound of your mix. However, there are a few concrete “principals” that can be applied to live mixing that will help your drums cut through.

Church Mixing & EQ Tips: Snare Drum

The kick and snare are the backbone of the groove in any worship song. Without proper mixing techniques, they’re bound to get lost and muddied up in the speakers, making for a bland drum sound and overall mediocre mix.

If you’re trying to get your snare drum to cut through, here are a few tips on gear, mic placement, and EQ:

Church Snare Mic Selection: Shure SM57

This is a staple microphone – one of the most commonly used mic on a snare drum, and for good reason. The SM57 brings the main body (fundamental tone) and wires/shimmer out of the snare drum which keeps it sounding full while helping it to cut through.

Phase Issues: Mic Placement

A lot of people don’t understand how important mic placement is. If your drum overheads are not equidistant from the snare drum, you will run into phase issues. Here’s what this means:

Since sound sources produce waves that go up and down, and sound travels at a particular velocity, if one mic is further away from a sound source than another, the sound will hit each mic at a different point in time. By the time the mics send the sound waves to the board, one mic’s sound wave may be going up while the other is going down. This subtle difference in timing means the sound waves will cancel each other out and cause a ton of loss in the bass / low frequencies (meaning you’ll lose all of the fundamental pitch of the snare drum).

To avoid this, make sure your overheads are the same distance from your snare drum. This keeps overheads in phase with each other. To ensure your snare mic is in phase with the overheads, after you have placed the overheads properly, have a drummer play the snare drum while you flip the polarity-reverse switch on and off (it looks like a circle with a diagonal line through it) on the snare mic channel on your board or in your DAW software (whatever you are using to mix.) Make sure to turn off all mics besides the top snare mic and overheads while doing this.

Snare Drum EQ Tips

If you’re trying to make your snare drum “cut through” in a church worship service mix, here are a few frequencies to keep your eye on:

20hz-125hz: This area is nothing but sub frequencies and mud. Roll it off at 125hz to clean up the low end.

125hz-250hz: Generally, this is where the “body” of the snare lives. You’ll see big frequency hot-spots in this area. Frequency-sweep until you find the big “gung” sound and give a wide-Q 3db-9db boost. If there’s too much “ring” to the snare, take a super sharp Q and sweep until you find the exact frequency. Do a surgical cut out of the overall boosted signal and you’ll have the body of the drum without the ring.

250hz-400hz: This is a pretty muddy area of the drum. Do a wide-Q cut of 3-5db in this area.

2kHz-3kHz: This is where the snare wires show up. If you need more crunch from the snare, boost it. If you need less, cut it.

8kHz: Boosting 8kHz is a near fool-proof way to help a snare cut through a mix. This is where the “airy” sound of the snare lives. A subtle boost here can really help to bring some life into the snare.

Chris Fleming, Author

About the Author

Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.

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