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Set up a gated reverb on a snare drum

Gated reverbs were incredibly popular in the 1980’s but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re not still a great tool to have up your sleeve today.

A gated reverb on a snare drum is a fantastic way to get the snare to pop, without the reverb tail muddying up the mix.

Process

1. Add some tasty reverb to the snare track by sending it to a Reverb track.
2. Compress the Reverb track.
3. Send the compressed reverb to a gate and cut off the reverb tail.

Adding the reverb to the snare track

I’ve got a Reverb track set up in my DAW which I’m routing the output of my snare track to via a send. Because I’m not trying to recreate an 80’s power pop sound, instead of using a huge live room reverb, I’m actually using the Small Dark Plate 2 preset from Lexicon’s MPX Native reverb. If you’re looking for that 80’s sound, you may want to try a medium to large room or a large plate.

Compressing the reverb

I’ve added an instance of Reaper’s ReaComp on the reverb track. I’m hitting around 2-3dB of reduction and I’m using a fairly aggressive Ratio – 10:1 but my Attack and Release settings are quite tame. While we’re aiming for a pretty unique sound here, we don’t want to make the snare sound completely unnatural so spend some time getting the Attack and release settings right for your snare.

Sending the compressed reverb to a gate

I’m using Reaper’s ReaGate to cut off the reverb tail. This ensures that while giving our snare some punch on one hand, we’re not conversely affecting the mix on the other by introducing any potential muddiness.

I’ve setup some auxiliary inputs on my Reverb track so that it’s now 4 in 2 out and I’m sending the dry snare track to both inputs 1 & 2 (Main Input L+R) and 3 & 4 (Auxiliary Input L+R).

In ReaGate, I’ve set the Detector Input to Auxiliary Input L+R so that the gate knows to open for our snare hits.

You can now modify the gate’s Attack, Release, Low-Pass, High-Pass and Wet/Dry settings until you find your sound.

Result

Snare – dry

Snare with reverb and no gate

Snare with gated reverb

Additional notes

Of course you don’t have to stop there. If you wanted you could use a virtual amp plugin to add a touch of distortion, or add some saturation or harmonic excitement to the track. There are some suggestions for doing this sort of thing on our enhance a DI recorded bass track article.

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