Making a layered Psytrance snare

Hey Daniel, hope u good. I’m producing since 3 years ago and recently I found inspiration on Zen Mechanics music or Symbolic, I love that kind of snares and I wanted to ask u if u know how to do them, for example, check the track Lifeforms & Ace Ventura – Royal Rumble, I asked to some guys and they told me It’s 3 snares in one with eq and compression and shaping. Thanks a lot bro.


Raul, I don’t know how exactly these artists making their snare drums, the best thing you can do is to ask them personally. But yes, most likely such snares made of few layers.

A snare drum sound consists of three parts: the transient, the body, and the tail. The transient is a hit that occurs roughly at the first 10~20 milliseconds of the sound, while everything else is the body and the tail.

If you look at any snare drum waveform, you can clearly see these parts:

Snare drum structure: the transient, the body, and the tail

Knowing this, you can manipulate with snare samples and layer them on top of each other, like a layered cake.

Now let’s try to recreate a snare drum sound from “Royal Rumble”. First things off, I’ll take one of the classic 909 snare samples as I feel it works well for this job, and transpose it to a few semitones down just to make the sound a bit lower.

Percussion sounds: buy samples or make your own

Then I’ll add one more similar sound on top, but with some brighter transient, and make this sound a bit shorter:

Then I’d add some raw white noise just to give more sustain to the body part, you can make it any synthesizers you have. I’m doing it in Massive just because there is a separate noise oscillator, it’s super quick to turn it on:

Also, I would add a clap sound, but just a middle part of it. That really adds some extra character and lovely dirty crunch:

And at last but not least, I’ll group all these layers and put two the most important devices: an equalizer and a compressor. On EQ, you definitely want to cut some unnecessary low-end, I would say under 250 Hz, and also boost some high frequencies with a wide bandwidth for a few decibels. As for compression, the point is to glue all our layers to make them sounds like a single piece.

Make sure your volume levels are in the green zone, which means you have no clipping on both input and output on this chain:

And here is how our snare sounds like on top of the reference track:

Sounds fine enough to me. Obviously, it’s not exactly the same sound as in the reference track, but we don’t have a goal to simply blind copy it. I just shared a method of how I do snare drums for myself, so feel free to use your creativity and try different variations of different layers to give it extra flavour and unique feelings.

Train your ears using a reference track

“Royal Rumble” is a track by Ace Ventura & Lifeforms, released on Iono Music in 2015. An absolutely stunning track, love it.

 1488   2016   Advice   Production

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

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