In music production as in other contexts, the 80s was a decade of ridiculous excess in many ways, with everything from loud metal guitar riffs to overhyped drum sounds. You’ve probably heard examples of the latter cases before: a snare erupts with an exhalation-like reverb before abruptly cutting off. This is known as a gated reverb, and it was widely used in pop and dance music in the 1980s. Everything sounded larger and “better” right away. Recently, the sound of the 1980s has resurfaced in the shape of a music genre known as Synth Wave, and those renowned sounding snare drums can be heard in many contemporary tracks. In the next tutorial, we will show you how to make a huge 80s snare drum with a few simple tricks.

In our Soundbridge: DAW, we have prepared a short sequence with essential elements such as a kick drum, snare drum, hi-hats, and bassline. Let’s hear how it sounds unprocessed.

80s snare drum session
~Full Mix – Unprocessed

The kick and snare drum will be our main point of interest, so we will start by listening to the snare drum solo.

~Snare Drum – Unprocessed

80s snare drum processing

The first thing to do would be to choose a reverb and place it on the snare drum channel effect rack. For this purpose, we have chosen the ValhallaRoom by ValhallaDSP as our reverb effect. We want our snare drum to sound very large. To do this, we will dial a pretty long decay time, a fair amount of pre-delay, and a mix parameter set to 50%. Let’s hear how that sounds.

80s snare drum reverb
~Snare Drum – Processed With Reverb

The next step would be to place a compressor after the reverb effect. This aims to control the dynamics of our snare drum and for better control of the reverb tail as well. We will use SoundBridge’s native compressor effect.

~Snare Drum – Processed With Reverb and Compressor

Lastly, and maybe the most important effect in this chain, would be the gate effect. The gating effect provides that signature 80s sounding snare drum by sharply ending the reverb tail. Again, we have chosen the Noise Gate effect from the Soundbridge native plugins collection. 

80s snare drum gate
~Snare Drum – Processed With Reverb, Compressor, and Gate Effects

Furthermore, we will use the same processing chain for our kick drum and toms, but with slightly different parameters.

Finally, let’s hear how our sequence sounds unprocessed and then with drums processed in the 80s style.

~Full Mix – Unprocessed
~Full Mix – Processed Drums