Very unique snare sound in "Traffic Jam" by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori. Looking to learn what was done


New member
Hey, I'm a music producer and I've really attempted to get a similar sound to the weirdly orchestral muffled snare from the song "Traffic Jam" from the Halo 3: ODST soundtrack,

The track in question (1:50 timestamp in case it doesn't work)

I've never heard a snare like this, very low, dead, but it seems like it either has some effect on it or has a layered percussive hit?

The ideas I have for what it could possibly be:
Specific EQ gated reverb
Layered percussive hit
Compression with the open hi-hat
Stretching out the tail of the snare
A combination of the others

I haven't been able to track down what snares were used in the soundtrack, could be Superior Drummer for all I know, it's very hard to find out any specifics about the engineering behind these songs, so any help is appreciated. I do freelance work and I'm currently composing music for an indie game and would love a similar snare sound.


Senior Member
I have no idea if this will be helpful because I know very little about recording, and I don't know how much you know about drumming, but here goes.

The closest acoustic equivalent to that sound is a Big Fat Snare Drum ring. They are quickly becoming the standard of what drummers think of when they hear a low thuddy sound. Place one of these on a snare that is tuned low, with loose wires. It's easier to get that 70s thuddy sound with one of these than it ever was with gaffer tape or muffling rings or wallets back in the day.

Maybe there are settings in Pro Tools that are labelled Big Fat Snare Drum or 70s thud or something like that. That can be your starting point.

The sound in the Halo 3 recording sounds like halfway between a BFSD sound and a rap music synth PSSST sound, if that makes any sense.


Platinum Member
I sincerely doubt that was an acoustic drum at all. It sounds like an electronically generated sound to me.


Junior Member
Sounds like a relatively common snare to me.
Top head tuned fairly low, bottom head tuned as low as possible without the snare wires rattling after each hit, generous muffling on the top head, SM57 or similar inappropriate mic near the top hoop pointed towards the center of the head, and then a bit of gated reverb + some white noise triggered by the hit.
After that work with the recording/noise balance, the specific reverb and so on and so forth, and keep in mind that it's near impossible to achieve the exact same sound as another recording unless you're in the same room with the same equipment that was recorded in/with, but still you should be able to get pretty close.