What do you hear in a higher quality snare drum that you don't hear in one of lower quality?

repete

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I think it’s subjective to what you like. I was at the drum center in NH and while I forget the brand, there was a snare priced in the 4 figures that did nothing for me. I also owned a student model Yamaha steel snare that sounded very good.
 

notINtheband

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I have always been surprised at how certain rooms and snares don’t mesh.
It was rare, but my gigging snare for 3 years, which always sounded fantastic, would occasionally just sound terrible in the right theater.
The first time it happened I was dumbstruck by the effect.
FOH advised me that the snare sounded terrible and I knew it wasn’t the tuning as I hadn’t changed a thing from the night before.
But sure enough, I walked out front and it’s like it was a different drum.
I swapped out for my backup and the backup sounded just fine.
Next gig, my regular snare sounded like it’s old self.
Our FOH had been the recording engineer for O.A.R. And FOH for everyone from Tom Petty to 311 to Sheryl Crow. He told me it was the way the room reflected and interacted with the snares frequencies and it wasn’t uncommon.
Eye opening the first time I heard it but I began to just take it as something to be aware of during soundcheck from then on.
 

stick2it

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I have a 5.5x14 maple Sonor "Select Force" I bought new, old stock, for $99. I replaced the Remo UT heads with single-ply Aquarians and added Canopus Vintage snare wires. Tuned right, it sounds and looks fabulous. I have other, pricier snare drums, but this Sonor looks and sounds as good as any of them. Canopus snare wires make a significant improvement to the sound of all my snare drums -- even those from DW which takes pride in their snare wires.

At the same time, I would not swap my maple Canopus bop kit for a cheaper one, as something is lost to my ears (playing jazz and, generally, acoustic music) in toms and bass drums as you go cheaper.

(As I always offer in my posts, every ear and every musical situation is different. If a snare drum works for you, then that's the one.)

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Seb77

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Several post mention sensitivity at low vilume - what about high volume performance/headroom? I remember playing a KS Supra and a KS Acrolite side by side - after tuning them the same I couln‘t hear a difference, at low volume that is. I later thought the difference others mentioned might be in how they open up with loud playing (something I didn‘t try back then)
 

HoorayGuy

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I have a 5.5x14 maple Sonor "Select Force" I bought new, old stock, for $99. I replaced the Remo UT heads with single-ply Aquarians and added Canopus Vintage snare wires. Tuned right, it sounds and looks fabulous. I have other, pricier snare drums, but this Sonor looks and sounds as good as any of them. Canopus snare wires make a significant improvement to the sound of all my snare drums -- even those from DW which takes pride in their snare wires.

At the same time, I would not swap my maple Canopus bop kit for a cheaper one, as something is lost to my ears (playing jazz and, generally, acoustic music) in toms and bass drums as you go cheaper.

(As I always offer in my posts, every ear and every musical situation is different. If a snare drum works for you, then that's the one.)

View attachment 524417
That snare would match my clear coated maple shells quite nicely. :rr:
 

DanRH

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Tuning range, sensitivity, warmness. I’ve had $700 snares I just got nothing from. I will say of the 13 I have now, all I’d love to have on the stand any day, any gig.
 

Cauldronics

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This is a good reason to buy snares that aren't made from the same material, size or build. Two 5.5x14 maple snares will sound more alike than different if most of the build between them is the same. I could see them being different in sound if one had baseball bat edges and the other 45 degree.

In my collection of snares, I have one maple 6.5x14 INDe and the rest vary between steel, aluminum, brass, beech, bubinga, birch/walnut and copper. There is one other maple Pork Pie but it's 12x6, and sounds not at all like the INDe. They all sound rather different from one another but I have spent a lot of time with each. It would be interesting to see if I could identify them in a blind test, but I think I'd do well on that.
 

Frank Godiva

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I think those two drums aren’t so crazy far apart where they’d sound like night and day. Especially with good heads and wires, and good tuning. They’re both pretty high quality, I suppose the strainer on the Catalina isn’t fantastic but the shells, edges, hoops, lugs are very nice.

Modern production methods and materials have made entry- and mid-level instruments exponentially better and higher quality. So now more than ever, you have to spend more to hear a difference. And even then - under mics and accompanied by a band, you’re talking about pretty subtle differences TO THE AVERAGE LAYMAN. You could record a dozen hit records with a Catalina snare and everyone would be fine with it. But we’re not just some Joe Bagadonuts, we’re passionate drum lovers. A Stradivarius just sounds like a violin to me, but the sound of Gladstone drums makes me a little watery eyed. The subtle differences add up to create that “perfect” drum - a drum that can’t really be improved upon. And then of course you need the perfect aluminum drum, and bronze, and maple, and mahogany, and on and on. Rabbit holeville.

One of the marks of the highest quality drums IMO is they sound excellent wide open at many tunings - no muffling required. There are no nasty overtones to quiet, no rattling to mask, nothing to clean up or hide. The higher quality drum sounds more musical, wires on or off. It’s much more sensitive and responsive, especially at low volume - more consistent across the board. It’s got it all, awesome sound at the center, at the edges, cross stick, rimshot. That’s all just the SOUND differences that are easy to articulate - there’s a whole slew of details that are harder to describe, like feel, and how that translates to sound - “pop” “breathy” “crisp” and the like. Intangibles.
my roommate in college nickname was Joe bagofdonuts; we just called him Bags. He was skinny too, go figure
 

itsjjp

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I have had some incredible sounding cheap snares. The best, hands down, was an Olympic by Premier 10-lug 14x5. Sounded like a brass snare worth 10x what it cost me, around $70. Likewise, I have had some pricey snares that never impressed me. Good heads, snare wires and proper tuning can make a cheap drum sing. Similarly, perhaps some of the high end snares that failed to impress had the "wrong" combination of those things. Last, I had a Gretsch Catalina Club snare that I did not hesitate to sell as it was such a dud. Horrible drum and I tried a variety of different enhancements and tunings.
 

bob e michael

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Nobody is going to admit that they snare drum they spend megabucks on is nothing special - even if it is nothing special. :)
exactly .... and me , would i love to have a real expensive snare drum ? .... you bet
but i don't have as many gigs as i had in the past .... and i'm kind of a cheap old bastard now ....
 


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