$25 bucks to a better snare sound right this way... A couple of months ago, I produced an album with Omar Hakim on drums, and he turned me on to the Remo Active Snare Dampening System. In most cases, I don't like ringy snare sounds. The problem is, I don't like to put any form of muffling on drums-no tape, no rings, no gels. For a snare to sound great, it has to resonate freely. That's what the Remo Active Snare Dampening System is for. The device clips on to the rim of the drum. It has a piston with a little round felt pad at the bottom that rests on the drum head to cut the ring. Hitting the drum causes the felt-tipped piston to pop up in the air, allowing the drum to ring freely until it drops back down. There are rubber washers on the piston which control how high and for how long it can pop up before it returns to resting on the drum, which then gates the ring. It's similar to the wallet trick that people have used for years, but with far more flexibility and control. There's a thumb screw that adjusts the angle at which the piston will rest on the head, and it rotates so you can place it closer to the center or towards the edge by the rim. It's the only product I've ever seen that works like this. It was easy to set up and adjust, and the drums I tried it on sounded great. Unfortunately, I've found them difficult to find in stores. The two big chains in New York City don't stock them, and one store told me that they stopped carrying them when too many drummers returned them because they didn't understand what they're for. (Drummers!) I see it as an important piece of recording equipment that every studio should own. I plan to get a few more at some point and try them on the toms. I've had good luck using the strip silence feature in Pro Tools to remove sympathetic tom ring, but that won't work to remove the ring picked up by heavily- limited room mics (although the ring can be an important part of that drum sound too). In case you have to special order one, the model number is HK-2417-00. Or Google "HK241700" for many online vendors. I think that you will find a huge improvement in your recorded snare tone when you take the tape off the drum, play it in its most natural acoustic state, and use the Active Snare Dampening System to control the ring. ($30 MSRP; www.remo.com)

[Dampening refers to moisture. Damping refers to ringing. Drummers! -LC]

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