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    go! Dat Snare Tho

    dat snare tho

    It’s the ultimate whip crack from the ringmaster kickdrum.

    It’s the lightning yin to the kickdrum’s thunderous yang.

    It can be made out of almost any sound or sample

    At 174BPM, it occurs every 0.35 seconds.

    In internet language the best ones are frequently preceded by the word ‘dat’ and succeeded by the word ‘tho’

    It is, of course, the snare. The essential ingredient that can turn a regular rolling groove into an attention-grabbing banger, without it drum & bass would be a dull place. But what makes the perfect snare? And who makes the perfect snare?

    Simple questions to ask, not so simple to answer. Every artist has their own technique and treatment (as proved by Methlab’s recent free #DatSnareTho samplepack), and their own personal perspective.

    Read on and sort out your transients from your tails with advice, reflections and deep theories from Billain, Calyx & TeeBee, Current Value, Cyantific, Delta Heavy, Krakota, Loadstar, MaztekMetrik, Misanthrop, Phace, Rene LaVice, ShockOne and Drumsound & Bassline Smith who went in on such a level they’ve potted the history of snares in drum & bass.

    Pro-tip: Bookmark this and read it when you’ve got time. This is the snare gospel with priceless information for any budding artists and some fantastic insight for all D&B fans who want to know more about why this genre sounds and punches the way it does.

    First, a little history in a jungle context from Drumsound & Bassline Smith….

    “Over the years, with regards to D&B, musical trends and advances in technology/processes have dictated what’s deemed ‘perfect’. In the early jungle days producers used chopped, processed and pitched up funk breaks which meant that the kick and the snare were predominately quite thin but left plenty of room for the heavy booming bassline.

    “Then, as it progressed into drum and bass in the mid 90s, drum machines were being used more and the music was becoming lead by the two-step beat putting more emphasis on having a prominent phat kick and snare like Dillinja in Hard Noize.

    “By the early 2000s the funk breaks were being cut at 200-500hz and substitute sample and heavily processed kicks and snares were added to make the breaks even thicker. Like what we did on Odyssey in 2004. Then, particularly with the introduction of sample packs (like Vengeance ), people started to create purely kick and snare lead tracks where the snare would be tuned, layered and processed with claps etc to say 200hz (Timewarp by Subfocus was a great example of this method)

    “Now it’s gone full circle as many artists are using software such as Superior Drummer to make brand new breaks from scratch using all of the processing techniques we have learnt over the last 20 years combined with the developments in software to ensure the drums have all the qualities of a funk break but with the strength and quality that’s necessary in a modern D&B tune.”

    History lesson over, back to the future: Here are 14 professional perspectives on serious snare science….


    What makes the perfect snare? 

    Pretty much anything that sounds strong as an opposition to the kick and bass coalition and has an audible snare signature or feeling… For every track there are only a few good ways that really work.

    Who makes the perfect snare?

    Buddy Rich in terms of technique. In terms of size? There was one in Ireland in 2001; Brian Fleming’s Millennium Drum for the Millennium Drum Carnival. It stood 308 inches in diameter and 75 inches deep.




    Calyx & Teebee 

    What makes the perfect snare?

    This question is 100% up to the individual. Some may prefer a natural-sounding snare while others are into a more digital or synthetic sound. For us, it has to have a good thwack to it with a relatively hard transient to hit it off.

    But the tail can be anything from short to spikey and resonant. We like the top end of the snare to sit quite wide in the mix and the overheads and room to slightly duck away at the impact of the first transient, just to get that chest oompppff prominent on impact .

    Who makes the perfect snare?

    This has changed over time for us. It used to be Photek and Dillinja. Now it is maybe Mefjus . But again, there are other tracks trickling through with fantastic sounding snares week in week out. That snare in Mefjus’s Ivy Lab remix on Critical is very special though.

    Current Value

    What makes the perfect snare?

    In the mix: the right tuning, the right leveling in the mix combined with the right length and timbre.

    In general: The perfect snare (if that exists) lives from well-proportioned timing components…

    Transient (preferably focussing on 1 kHz), the base frequency that “swings in and out” (Frequency can vary from 130Hz to up in the 5- hundreds) and the “rattle” giving it the noise carpet.

    Who makes the perfect snare?

    Someone who knows how to do the above! 


    What makes the perfect snare?

    Snares can come in a lot of different shapes and sizes – claps, rim shots, big snares, short snappy ones etc. but for me what they need is character. For example, I really like layering a live snare with a nice decay on it to bring a shorter snare to life. The important thing is to have a nice attack on it and if there’s low end, you really want that to hit quickly.

    Who makes the perfect snare?

    I’m a big fan of Sub Focus snares. He gets the nicest attack, it sounds really pinched but in a good way. The result is something that cuts through the mix, but sounds almost delicate. A good example of this is You Make It Better feat. Culture Shock & TC.

    Delta Heavy

    What makes the perfect snare? 

    One thing that snares all have in common in bass music is providing energy and character. They are the main feature of the drums and will often be a defining feature of a tune, much more so than house or techno where the kick is everything.

    A good snare needs punch, weight and vibrancy in the character that makes a tune feel alive. Snares are often sourced from breaks or real drum samples as they provide the character and are then layered with synthetic low end snares to provide weight and top airy white noise layers which make the drums feel big and bright and glue them into the rest of the tune.

    Snares with really different char