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For the last song I recorded, I tuned the snare very wet, since it sounded much drier on recording than in person. I ended up getting a good sound, but when I went to mix the song, I found that the snare really had 2 fundamentals- one which dominated for rim shots at about 195Hz, and one which dominated for taps at about 170Hz.

Rimshot spectrum

Tap spectrum

Now, it turned out that I could use heavy eq to remove the "doofy" 170Hz tone, leaving only the higher fundamental and barely affecting the rim shot sound. The end result was good, but how did this happen in the first place?

I also came across this sound in a professional track too- The snare in "Resister, Resist Her" sits around 200Hz, but there's a small tap section at 1:08 where the "doofy" sound comes through, and the fundamental is around 180Hz. Very similar to what I experienced.

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    "Doofy" ... Is that a technical term? :-)
    – Aaron
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 18:27
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    What FFT window size are you using for the spectrum graphs? BTW "fundamental" may not be a meaningful term in the context of an inharmonic sound like this.
    – Theodore
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 14:45
  • ...not just FFT size, but sample rate.
    – Theodore
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 15:20

2 Answers 2

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Drums respond very differently depending on where you hit them, how hard you hit them, what you hit them with, and so on. They're very dynamic instruments in every sense of the word. So I think the short answer is just that. If the drummer does something different, the drum will sound different.

Why specifically is there a difference with your rimshots? Well, I think the general consensus is that rimshots give you more attack and woody pop but less body. So perhaps the "doofy" sound you're referring to is just the darker tone that you get with more body and less attack. From the images, it appears the rimshot has a lot more midrange energy. Beyond that, I can't give you a detailed breakdown of the physics involved.

I would be cautious about taking those snapshots from the frequency analyzer too seriously.

  1. Are each of those pictures truly representative of all the strokes of that type?
  2. The difference may have been exagerated by processing. Are these frequency spectrums of the raw tracks or have these post EQ and/or compression?
  3. The resolution in the low end is iffy and the bottom ends look almost identical except for the peaks. Look at the down slopes on the left side. Almost identical.
  4. These 2 hits are clearly at very different dynamics so it's not really a fair comparision. I can see there is WAY more energy in the rimshot -- at least 2dB across the board and as much as 5dB in the mids and low mids. Cumulatively across the whole spectrum, that's a huge difference! So it's hard to know without doing a controlled experiment how much of the difference in timbre is attributable to the different technique vs the dynamics. In the commerical track you reference, the snare at 1:08 is being played more softly than the usual backbeats in the surrounding sections, so it's a similar situation.

Finally, gotta say, why would you EQ out that sound? I didn't hear your "doofy" snare sound, but I like the "doofy" sound in the referenced track. I wouldn't EQ that out in an effort to make non-rimshots sound like rimshots. Generally, I wouldn't EQ out frequencies unless they're actually problematic.

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  • 1) They are representative of... 80+% of strokes of that type. 2) I put one eq in broad strokes before the FFT. Very wide bass boost and mid scoop. No compression or other effects, this isn't the version I used in the actual mix. 3) I can upload some more spectra with no effects, different windowing, etc... But that's getting off topic. I don't have a problem with the way the FFT looks, I have a problem with the sound. The FFT is just a visualization to help explain the problem. 4) Of course they're at different dynamics. I'm comparing a tap to a rimshot. ...
    – Edward
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 18:10
  • ... I suppose I can look back at the original recording later and see if I have any loud taps or soft rimshots in there, but yes I'm playing rimshots louder because I use rimshots for the backbeat and taps for the, well, taps. I eq'ed out the sound because I didn't like it. It wasn't an attempt to make the taps sound like rimshots, it was an attempt to make them sound more like the taps should sound, in my vision for the track.
    – Edward
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 18:16
  • Your direct answer to my question seems to be "I don't really know, it's different because you did something different." I use both taps and rimshots often... Why doesn't this stark difference come up often?
    – Edward
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 18:21
  • The FFT is all I have to go on because I can't hear the actual sounds. So I'm trying to gather additional information.
    – ibonyun
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 18:40
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    It sounds like YOU yourself are the drummer, so I don't know what I'm going to tell you that will be news to you. Technique will change timbre. Dynamics will change timbre. Tuning will change timbre. Maybe your taps and rimshots are hitting different spots on the head. On a snare head, a 1 inch difference can be huge.
    – ibonyun
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 18:49
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Snare wires too tight.

That seems to be the strongest contributor here.

My initial assumption is that it was most likely related to the relative tunings of the batter and resonant heads. I did an experiment where I tried 9 or so different tunings on the same drum, recorded them, and analyzed them, but I could find no pattern.

Eventually, I realized that I get more consistency between taps and shots with loose snare wires. Tightening your snare wires too much chokes the resonance of the drum, this is pretty well known. But it seems that this dampening effect can be non-constant with velocity. So, it is possible to get a tuning where the fundamental can speak fairly loudly at low volumes, but gets choked at higher velocities (i.e. rim shots.)

You engineer your rim shots to sound good, but then the taps are super "doofy" by comparison. You're stuck wondering why the taps are so doofy, when the problem is really that the rim shots are not doofy enough!

The tuning that gave me problems was a tom-like tuning with snares pulled too tight. Wet, yes, but only for taps.

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