How to Create a Skrillex Snare

The ‘Dubstep snare’ is a punchy, over processed sound that really hits you in the chest.  Big time artists like Skrillex and Koan (amongst others) use this type of snare sound all the time.  There are many of ways of creating it, but we’ll take a simplified approach that will get us in the ball park quickly.

Today’s demonstration will be covered in Ableton, but any decent DAW will do the trick.  Take a listen to the snare we’ll recreate:

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Getting Started…

To get started, you will need to have access to a decent 909 snare sound.  Your DAW should house plenty of 909 sounds, as they are very popular.

Here’s a snippet of the snare I’ll use:

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Step 1 – Lay out a basic pattern and duplicate your snare track.

Once you have a MIDI sequence, you’ll want to duplicate your track 2 more times, so you have a total of 3 snare tracks to work with – all of which use the same snare sound.

Step 2 – Begin processing your first snare track.

One of the things that makes this sort of snare so punchy is some moderate-to-extreme Equalization in the 200-250 Hz range.

Let’s pull up an EQ eight from Ableton and really accentuate these frequencies.

We’ll take Band 2 and boost it 12 db around to 200 Hz.  Next we can isolate those frequencies by adding significant drops around 100 Hz  and 400 Hz.  All bandwidths have fairly small amount of Q width applied to them.

Try recreating the EQ in the image above.

Next, we’ll want to add a Saturator.  You could use a Compressor if you wanted to, but I find that the Saturator does a better job bringing out tone and body in this case.

Add some mild Drive, a medium curve, and you should be good to go.

Lastly, you’ll want to add a Brickwall Limiter of some sort.  I really like IK Multimedia’s but you should be able to achieve similar results with any Limiter.

Push the Limiter until you get about 6 – 8 db of gain reduction.  Set a quick Attack time and moderate Release time.

Take a listen to our first snare track:

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As you can hear, we have an over-processed snare with a lot of punch and body.

Now lets start to beef it up…

Step 3 – Process your second snare track.

For this second snare track, we almost under-process it.  By that I mean we’ll only apply some EQ.  We want to preserve the full dynamics of this particular hit.

This EQ is basically the same as the last one, with the exception of rolling off some of the higher frequencies.

You’ll want to adjust the volume ratio between these two sounds so that they blend together nicely.

I have this snare sitting slightly below snare 1.

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Step 4 – Process your third snare track.

For our 3rd snare, will throw on an EQ, but with some slightly different settings.

Band 2 will get a moderate boost around 250 Hz and band 3 will get boosted around 450 Hz.

In terms of volume, this track will be significantly lower than the first two.

Here are my volume levels for each snare in respect to each other:

Play around with these volume levels until you have 1 cohesive snare sound.

Step 5 – Bounce down to a single track.

Now is a good time to merge your tracks into a single track.

To do so, you will need to route their outputs to a single audio track.

All tracks are initially routed to your Master output, but you can change that by clicking on the Audio To drop down menu and select the track of your choice.

Now, all you have to do is hit record on that track (in my case 1-audio), then activate recording in Ableton and hit play.

All three sounds will consolidate into 1 audio track.

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Step 6 – Tweak your final track.

Add some EQ and Compression to your newly consolidated track.

A slight boost around 200 Hz and a nice wide boost around 6 kHz will do the trick.  For band 3 I chose to remove some frequencies around 1 kHz.  This isn’t absolutely necessary, but in this case I liked the affect it had on my tone.

Lastly, add a compressor.

Some moderate compression will add an extra bit of punch.  Be careful not to over do it and you should have a really fat snare sound!

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Wrap Up…

There are many ways you could take this sound further, but you’re well in the ball park.  Try feeding your snare into a Send, throw some Reverb on the Send, and layer the two together.  Maybe a bit of Chorus is just what you’re looking for?  Experiment and tweak to your liking.  Make it your own!

We hope you found this tutorial helpful!  Be sure to check back regularly for more great info from Samplepacks.ca.

 

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2 Responses to “How to Create a Skrillex Snare”

  1. Sebastian Says:

    Hey… I work in LPX not Ableton. Can I just get that sound sample and replace one of my snares with it? Thanks, if you do this, please email me a link to the ↓load…

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