How To Make A Basic 909 Snare Sound With 3xOsc

How To Make A Basic 909 Snare Sound With 3xOsc

In this tutorial I will show you two methods how to make your own 909 style snare drum with 3xOsc. The sound is very basic, but knowing how to make one might come useful to you in your future sound designing efforts.

Here’s the audio preview of the snare:

Ok. First thing to do is to load the 3xOsc.

Basically, we need two oscillators: sine wave and noise. Sine will be used as the ‘body’ of the snare and noise is for the ‘sizzle’. Let’s start from the sine wave so make sure Osc 1 has sine selected as the oscillator shape. Also, disable the Osc 2 & Osc 3 by turning their volume knobs to 0%. We’ll come back to the noise part later.

3xOsc Sine

Now, let’s use volume and pitch envelopes to make the sine wave sound like a short kick drum so go to the INS tab and VOL subtab, enable the envelope and tweak it like this:

3xOsc Sine Volume Envelope

Next, go to the PITCH tab for the pitch envelope, turn the Modulation amount knob all the way to left and set the Attack time to very short.

3xOSc Sine Pitch Envelope

The kick needs to be tuned down a little so go back to the PLUGIN tab and set the Coarse tune to -6 semitones.

3xOsc Sine Tuning

Ok, the kick sounds alright (though it needs some EQ, which we’ll do later). Next, mix in the noise by choosing noise as the Osc 2 shape and adjust it’s volume to 10% (the noise level should be fairly low in relation to kick).

3xOsc Noise

Next, we need to adjust the volume envelope a bit so go back to INS and VOL tabs, enable the Tension edit mode (TNS) to shape the Decay a bit to give the sound more ‘snare like character’.

3xOsc Volume Envelope Tension Edit

Actually, the Decay time could be longer, so choose the TIME editing mode again, and increase the Decay a bit:

3xOsc Fine Tuning The Decay Length

Next, add a little ‘sharpness’ to the noise via filter resonance. Under the ‘Filter’ choose SVF LPx2 as the filter type and set the resonance knob to about 10 o’clock.

3xOsc Resonance

Next, assign the 3xOsc to a free mixer track for EQ and compression.

Assign 3xOsc To A Free Mixer Track

Now in the Mixer, the following tweak is just a matter of taste: turn the stereo separation all the way to right (100% merged). This sums the left and right channels to mono. This is because the noise coming from 3xOsc is kind of ‘spread’ between the left and right channels. I somehow like it’s sounding better in snare sound design if it’s in mono. I don’t know about you. Use whatever you like better.

3xOsc In Mono

Next, load Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to the 3xOsc effect slot (we use it for cutting off the low end). Select high pass filter as the filter type and a steep slope (steep 8) (you can select these by right clicking the band token and under ‘Type’ choose ‘High Pass’ and under ‘Order’ select ‘Steep 8’) , set the bandwidth to 56%  and cut everything below 180Hz.

3xOsc Low Cut

Next, boost the 3 – 4kHz area (3.6kHz in this example) few dB’s (5-6dB in this example) for more ‘attack’ or ‘presence’ or whatever it should be called.

3xOsc Boosting 3-4kHz

And if you feel like the noise is sizzling too much, cut the 8kHz area one or two dB’s with a high shelf filter.

3xOsc Cut 8kHz

Also, if you wan’t to enhance the ‘body’ of the snare, try boosting slightly around 400Hz area, even though too much boost in this range may easily make it sound like it’s coming from a can or something.

3xOsc Boost 400Hz

Next, let’s use compression to add a little more sharpness and snap to the snare so add Fruity Limiter to the fx chain, activate the compression mode, drop the Threshold to around -22dB, Ratio to 2.5:1, Attack to around 7 ms, Release to 130-140ms and finally, compensate the gain reduction by raising the output Gain to around 5dB.

3xOsc Compression Settings

Now, load one more effect to the fx chain: Fruity Reeverb. Only a tiny amount of reverb is needed – and for the high frequencies only so set it like this: turn the LowCut to 3000Hz, HighCut to OFF, HighDamping to OFF, RoomSize to around 20 to simulate a smaller room, Color to Warmer, drop the Decay to 0.6 seconds and Reverb level to 19%.

3xOsc Fruity Reeverb Settings

As you can hear, this kind of small and subtle reverb adds a continuation to the sizzle of the snare, but doesn’t add too much of that depth and sense of space which isn’t required right now.

That’s basically it. In the 3xOsc, try different mix levels between the sine and noise to suit your taste.

Now, if you wan’t, you can drop Edison to the Master track (or the 3xOsc track) and record and normalize the snare and save it to your own collections. Recording with Edison is easy. After you have loaded it, press the record button in it and play your sound.

Recording The Snare With Edison

Trim it (select an area, right click and choose Edit -> Trim)

Trim The Snare In Edison

Normalize it (under Tools -> Normalize).

Normalize The Snare

Save the sample as wav:

Save Sample

Or drop it to a Sampler channel straight from Edison by dragging it:

Drag The Snare From Edison

Via the Sampler Channel settings, you can easily tune it as well:

Tune The Snare

This was the end of the method one. Now, while this might be a quicker way to create a snare drum with 3xOsc, the downside is that you can’t control the sine and noise envelopes separately as both are controlled with same envelope. This can be problematic if you would like to use i.e shorter decay time in the kick while having a longer tail in the noise. Also, the tail of the kick drum is still there and it poses an easily audible pitched element when you play higher notes. Check this:

With that said, I will now show you the second method on making a snare drum. With two 3xOsc’s. The principle and end result is still the same, but with a better control over the envelopes.

So first, start a new project and load 3xOsc. This 3xOsc unit will be dedicated only for the sine wave (kick) so choose sine as the Osc 1 shape, set it’s coarse tune to -6 semitones and disable Osc 2 & 3 by dropping their volume levels to 0%.

Second Method Sine Settings

Head to the INS and VOL tabs, enable the volume envelope and tweak it like this:

Second Method Sine Volume Envelope

Very short Decay time results a very short kick.

Now, head to the PITCH tab, turn the AMT (modulation amount) knob all to left, and set the Attack time to very short:

Second Method Pitch Envelope Settings

Now, assign this 3xOsc to a free mixer track and drop a Fruity Parametric EQ to it’s effect slot and again, roll off frequencies below 180Hz with a high pass filter and steep 8 slope.

Second Method EQ Low Cut For The Sine

Ok. Kick part is ready. Next, the noise.

Load another instance of 3xOsc, set noise as the Osc 1 shape and disable Osc’s 2 & 3.

Second Method 3xOsc For The Noise

Go to the INS and VOL tabs, enable the volume envelope and now, use longer decay time for the noise than with the kick. Use the Tension Edit mode for editing the Decay tension. Also, under the ‘Filter’, increase the resonance (with SVF LPx2 selected as the filter type):

Second Method 3xOsc Noise Volume Envelope

Assign this second 3xOsc unit to a free mixer track and drop the volume level to around -18dB and Stereo Separation to 100% merged (if you feel like it).

Second Method Noise Mixer Settings

Next, layer the sine 3xOsc and noise 3xOsc together using a Layer channel. You’ll find the Layer channel under Channels -> Add one. Layering is simple: in the Step Sequencer, just right click the channel selectors of both 3xOsc channel so that they are green and press ‘Set children’ in the Layer channel settings. Also, set the Layer channel volume to 100% if you don’t wan’t any unnecessary volume reduction.

Layering Sine And Noise

Next, EQ the noise with PEQ2.

Second Method PEQ2 For Noise

Now, use compression for both signals together. In order to do that, route both mixer tracks to a new mixer track and drop a Fruity Limiter there.

Second Method Route Sine And Noise

In the Fruity Limiter, enable the compressor mode and tweak it like you did in the first method:

Second Method Compression

Add PEQ2 (to the route track) and boost the 400Hz:

Second Method 400Hz Boost

And Fruity Reeverb (to the route track as well):

Second Method Fruity Reeverb

The end. 🙂

Watch the video version of this tutorial below, and download the .FLP files for both snares.

Download Snare Drum Example With One 3xOsc’s (requires FL Studio 10.0.9)

Download Snare Drum Example With Two 3xOsc’s (requires FL Studio 10.0.9)


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  1. Great tutorial! Thanks for showing the step-by-step process. I learned a lot of neat things about synthesizing drums/percussion.

  2. Thanks for the great tutorials. I’m glued to your web site every day now and learning so much that my brain is now full.

    I couldn’t work out how some pieces worked and fitted together and you keep providing the most in-depth answer anyone can find anywhere. Keep em coming. 🙂

    (p.s your speech bubbles on the vid are better than talking because it’s easier to pause, read and absorb.)

  3. Thanks very much for this tutorial. I really found this one very tricky as those fine controls on the 3xOsc are a really fiddly so getting the right pitch on the kick part of the snare sound was hard. It kept coming out way too low for me so when I put on the PEQ2 it was chopping all the noise out (great that you can see that with the graphic display though on the PEQ2 so you know what is wrong!). I can’t wait to experiment further using the principles you have outlined though to get some nice snare sounds.

    By the way a tutorial on how to make different kinds of kicks would be fantastic 🙂 I’ve been listening through to the Deadmau5 XFER sample pack and trying to figure out what goes into some of those kick sounds. I guess lots of layering 🙂

  4. Awsome tuto!

    Would be awesome if you could make a : Make your own tr909 kick or snare with all parameters customizables.

    Emulate a tr 909 kick with all its parameters using some synthesizer and filter. Indicating like move this filter to recreate the Tune or tune depth knob in the tr 909… would help alot for people like me struggling to undersatnds those parameters on drum synthesizers ( analog or vst). A good tr 909 vst is Drumazon. Thanks

    Hope you to see this request.

  5. I have been a Ableton user since maybe 1 moth. I realized how to do it in ableton, just use macro controls. Maybe a FL studio solution somewhere

  6. im going to see what happens when you follow these same steps (mostly) with other one shot samples
    like a hit hat single hit
    clap (fltered)
    CLOP sound
    even some other odd single hit sounds i have as well