Dubstep Snare Thread

I think its time for a thread that is dedicated just to dubstep snare production. Hopefully it will be a good resource for everyone.

Id like to start it by bringing up a few basic elements of snares that I currently know of (Always trying to learn new and more creative techniques):
- boost around 200hz (depends on what key your in, F for example is about 174hz)
- either synthesized, using a sine wav with a pitch and volume envelope with very quick attack and white noise, or using a sample of an actual snare and adding distortion and then layering noise and other sounds such as a clap for the tail, or a combination of both such as synthesizing a tone, and then layering clap samples.
- reduce around 300-800hz because those are best suited for melodic elements in the song

Not to be cliche but… Zomboy does have amazing snares imo. I’m wondering what type of processing he uses on his snares, although im sure a good part of how it sounds is just a result of great mixdowns and mastering.

It would be great to have people share examples of good snares they have made (in your opinion) and the process of how they made them.

Also, a great resource for understanding the type of processing good producers use is in this Noisia video. (I know they are dnb but its still a great video)

tutorials and in the studio videos are a great way to learn so if anyone has any hidden gems please share!

1 BigUp

I think that Zomboy straight up uses a dubstep sample pack snare and tweaks it ever so slightly and then adds a tail from a clap or noise. The boost at 200hz thing is kind of obsolete if you get a modern sample. Most snare samples already have a boost there so if you do it again it you get that incredibley terrible blown out snare sound.

The biggest trick to snares is not the snare sample itself, it is mixing correctly to let it come through. So many people obsess over a snare sample yet FK up mixing it so that it doesn’t even matter. Zomboy could give people one of his snares and people still wouldn’t be able to “get the Zomboy snare sound”

1 BigUp

great point, i think its more about mixing the snare rather than the sample itself. The boosting at 200hz thing is more for if your synthesizing your own.

I cant remember if its from a vengeance pack but i have the snare sample from terror squad. Im sure he layered that sample with other things though but the sample itself isn’t that special like you said, its just mixed and processed very well.

If you have seen virtual riots live stream he does some really creative stuff with layering wierd sounds that you cant really hear that well in the mix but they make a big difference.

Thought I would add some of my experiences with snares.

Be careful with the Q. on the 200hz boost. If it’s too wide you will get more of a muffled boom than a punchy ring sound.

If it’s still sounding weightless try making another small boost lower down. If you boost in the right place it will help the kick and snare sound more like one complete unit.

Mind sharing the snare sample?

1 BigUp

there ya go. like i said, its nothing special, but its good because it gives you an idea of what he starts with and the full song shows you how it turned out.

keep in mind he definitely tweaked it and took out some of the wierd metallic tail.

Thanks mate – any chance you could send a wav? I don’t have ableton and hence cannot open, good tips on this board

Damn, totally forgot about that. Ill upload a wav sometime today

While agree to an extent, I feel like a lot of it is the sample though.

Mixing can only do so much for the sample, especially something like a zomboy style snare. Especially since these days most people making the genre have caught onto volume automation sidechaining, so their whole damn mix is more or less slapped to zero whenever that snare comes in, and it STILL doesn’t come close to zomboy’s. IDK how much more mixed it could be in the sense of going for that sheer power.

Sidenote, snare in Ressurected (during the drop) is peaking at 150hz or something like that on a spectrum. heard it live on a funktion one and was like damnnnn thats a heavy snare. Whereas in the non-drop sections its peaking at like 260hz. Nice change from the usual 200hz THOOOP.

Yeah you are right…you need a good sample but it is a chicken and egg thing. My point was that people think that they need the magical Zomboy golden snare sample but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything special to the samples. He mixes like a boss so they come through strong.

The best rule of thumb for checking your snare is to solo it and note the intensity. Your goal is to get a full powerful mix and retain as much of the solo’d snare. Bring everything else in and make note of how much the snare gets covered up. You have to adjust your mix levels to find a good compromise between loud synths and a loud snare. You can’t have both at max volume…each have to give up a little to one another. You could have a louder than Zomboy snare if you turn your synths way down but that doesn’t get the club beeeches grinding on you.

But thats what I’m saying, its so easy to set it up so everything in your mix gets whacked down to zip when your snare comes in, so it does have the same intensity as it would on its own, but it STILL doesn’t sound like his do. I really do think its either a sample or some sort of distortion/processing that makes it sound how it does. He mentioned he’s very fond of transient shapers.

And its not just all pro producers, zomboys drums IMO kick the shit out of anyone else trying to do the genre (I’m talking better than just about anyone on firepower or NSD). If I hear a tune I don’t know, as soon as I hear the drums I can tell whether or not its zomboy or not.

Yeah it’s easy but it is advanced mixing too. Its not just using the right sidechaining, you have to level everything properly and still retain the power / energy. I agree with you though…Zomboy is really crafty producer beyond what people notice. He does this thing where he detunes a lot of stuff to make it pop out more. That is one thing about his snare that I noticed…if you pull up the right sample…it seems slightly detuned so it isn’t center key. His leads are often detuned… He is too far underrated for his technical abilities. </zomboy love rant>

skream - percression, loefah - drive bi, loefah - left right left and coki - intergalactic have some nice snares if i do say so myself


Yea Ressurected and Immunity have to be 2 of my favorite Zomboy snares.

When you compare zomboys tracks so other artists it seems like he has much more sub than others.

I actually loaded a bunch of different dubstep songs into ableton and looked at their dynamic range and pretty much all of the well known dubstep songs of the past few years have around 3 to 5db of dynamic range. Which is extremely low, like professional mixing engineers would slap you in the face if you told them you were mixing your tracks to -3db RMS.

There are a lot of artists whose tracks are basically the same loudness as Zomboys in terms of RMS, but his snare just blows theres out of the water in my opinion. I honestly think that its a combination of many things though. Judging by some interviews and instagram vids i say he spends a shit ton of time producing, along with going to school for it, and if every time your making tracks you have that goal of making a hard hitting snare in the back of your mind, eventually your going to get really damn good at it.

I think he does a similar thing to Madeon and Knife Party. Keeps his kicks and snares a lot louder than the rest of the mix so they survive mastering

benga- pleasure snare tho

I usually start with a Cymatics Terror Drums snare. Low pass it and throw a FabFilter on it. I take down the 200h range then layer it with a 909 and basically EQ my 909 down to the 200h range.

The perception of the Zomboy snare has jack shit to do with the snare itself.just listen to his tracks quiet,they sound pathetically weak and tiny,they sound bigger on PA systems because there’s a almost a total lack of low mids and punchy lows in all of his mixdowns.those particular frequencies give the PA systems driver a hard time to recover (in time) so reducing the weight and energy of those frequencies to just one step of the “2 step” allows the speakers to drive the track harder (there’s a lot of quicker bass transients in frequencies around that area so not having the cone doing a work out allows it time to take a breath before the kicks and snares and because they are also highpassed and sapped of those frequencies,it has ample room to breath from its diaphragm aka a big deep breath=happily reflexing cones).without that ridiculous clipping and limiting his tracks will sound piss weak because there is an (over the top IMO)use of high pass filtering and butchering of low mids.ofcourse when almost nothing has any of that,and the RMS is more favouring the high end and high mid sustain,when even one element ist introduced that has its energy focused around those frequencies which seem to absent from almost everything else,ofcourse you are going to perceive it as huge sounding.add the serious SPLS being kicked out by the Funktion One’s,perception complete

I’ve never understood how this guy has been put on a pedestal considering he’s using the same "by the book"mixing approach of pretty much everyone who does loud mixes.now,to have low mids in almost everything and have it work on a PA system and not sound choked…that is an art form,which i’ve only heard Knife Party and Feed Me/Spor (albeit quieter and more dynamic)achieve.the object is to suppress,not kill (kill away if it’s the Zomboy sound you so desire though)

So just to recap,it has nothing to do with super special sidechaining tricks,or tuning things down (have zero idea what that has to do with production),it’s good ol’fashioned psycho acoustics

I will just add though that even though his stuff sounds loud on a PA system because of the above,it definitely doesn’t sound in time,and the reason being is because of all the group delay incurred by the higpass filtering during the mixing stage and PA systems already have an insane amount of group delay because of the sheer size of the cabinet (and not forgetting the room)so it is literally just the additional SPL’s making up for all of those deficiencies

Yea but I thought that everyone thought that about bro mixdowns. They are harsh and shitty and sound toontrebbly because of the low mid scooping and high pass filters on everything

This thread would seem to suggest otherwise,but that is exactly how i hear them as well