Emergency Repair: Fixing Bleed In The Snare
It’s too late. Tracking is over and you’ve lost your snare to hi-hat bleed. The drummer has gone home and there’s no budget to re-track drums. You’re probably sitting there wondering how such a rookie mistake could’ve happened when the snare sounded so good at first.
You’ve already spent way too much time trying to gate the bleed out of your snare track but it’s no use. Suddenly, as you’re toying with the idea of manually replacing every single snare hit, a light bulb comes on – there’s a better way to fix this.
Ditching the Gate
You’ve got to overcome your reliance on gates as the “easy” solution to your cymbal bleed problems. They’re quick and dirty, but they’re killing your tone.
Gates are too consistent for their own good – they react the same to the hissing attack of your hi-hat as they do to a good crack on the snare. Hell, your racks toms might even trigger the gate to open with a drummer that hits them hard enough.
You want something flexible and adaptive to fix your snare troubles, something that can more readily clean up cymbal bleed following your guidelines. You need a filter-based solution.
Adjustable Filter Automation
The solution to cymbal bleed is something we’ve sought out over hundreds of sessions, and the most natural-sounding solution also seemed to be the most tedious one: sweeping a filter to allow the attack through, then rolling it off quickly to get the bleed out.
Unfortunately, this type of automation is extremely labor intensive. It was taking more time to clean up toms, snare, and kicks than it was to track them.
Tools like Tominator have begun to replace the manual automation with a triggered alternative. They’re less invasive than gates, sound more natural, and provide complete control over your cymbal bleed cleanup in a single plugin.
How It’s Done
Your approach may vary based on your experience and needs, but Fluff’s provided us with a great starting point for treating cymbal bleed, especially on snare mics:
Here's the play by play:
- Find the ideal Threshold to trigger the filter to open.
- Dial in the right Cutoff frequency for your snare.
- Play with the Attack, Release, and Speed controls until you achieve a natural, consistent sound.
- Use Hold as needed – for snare tracks, a longer hold time usually won’t be necessary, but it’s great on toms that you’d like to ring out.
- Make sure to A/B your adjustments frequently to hear how your sound is changing vs. the source audio.
- Listen to how your processed track sits in the mix with the rest of your drums and make additional changes as necessary.
Don’t Forget: Your Cymbals
After you’ve successfully rescued your snare from hi-hat bleed, it’s important to reevaluate how your filtering has changed the balance of your mix. All of that bleed was undoubtedly playing a role in your drum kit’s sound during tracking, and you may need to bring up your hi-hat mic or overheads to “re-balance” that portion of your mix.
Remember, our goal isn’t to eliminate the cymbals from our mix, just to isolate our drums for easier mixing.