4 Best Snare Drum Heads – Heading for a Great Snare Sound

drum head

We have a huge amount of information on drum gear here on Subreel. One thing that is often overlooked by drummers, especially beginners, is their drum heads. Drum heads are a key component of getting the sound you’re looking for, and are vital for all of your drum hardware. In this article, we’re looking at snares in particular as we review the best snare drum head for various genres, styles and price ranges.

Whether you are looking for drumheads for rock, metal, jazz or pop, there are certain criteria that make different heads suitable for different styles. Snares, in particular, have a lot of variation in the way they sound, with some drummers opting for a snare that rings out, others going for a short, snappy snare sound.

Remo VE0114-00 Vintage Emperor Coated Drum Head

Remo makes a lot of drum related products, and they are truly prolific with drum heads. The Vintage Emperor coated head is extremely popular with drummers, and it is easy to see why. Features include:

  • Polyester two-ply design with two 7.5mm films.
  • Amazing frequency response at low and medium frequencies to give your snare extra punch.
  • Durable and hard-wearing so you won’t have to replace it too often!
  • Available in an incredible eight different sizes. 8″, 10″, 12″, 13″, 14″, 15″, 16″ and 18″ so this product is suitable on pretty much any kit imaginable.

The original version of this drum head, released in the 60s, is said by the manufacturer to have revolutionized drumming and the way people play the drums. We don’t know about that, but the reviews of the vintage emperor show just how highly regarded the product is with musicians everywhere. A deep and warm sound which can be properly tuned to your own needs makes for a drum head suitable for rock, metal and a variety of other genres. Remo offers similar products for toms and kick drums too. In terms of price, these aren’t the cheapest, but they aren’t an expensive product either, especially by musician standards. Though you can get cheaper, the value for money comes from the durability and quality on offer.

Remo Ambassador Hazy Snare Side Drumhead

You may see a pattern emerging. Remo is leading the way when it comes to the best snare heads. The Hazy Snare Side Drumhead is something we simply have to mention due to the fact that it is so common, and may be the model already on your drum set if you have bought one brand new.

This is a more affordable snare head. It is single ply with 3-mil of film so a lot thinner than some of the alternatives. The manufacturer describes it as the ‘perfect balance’ of frequencies, and it doesn’t really accentuate any particular frequency. This snare drum is probably so popular is it is quite easily tuneable and has some beautiful resonant overtones. It isn’t the very best on the market, but considering the price and versatility (it is great for pretty much every genre), the Remo Ambassador is worth your consideration.

Evans Genera HD Dry Drum Head

Evans is the other main brand breaking new ground in the world of drum heads. Remo vs Evans is a debate for another time but both have very good ranges for snare heads. The Evans Genera HD has some exceptionally good reviews on Amazon and from other music publishers, and looking at the features it is clear to see why.

This is called the ‘dry’ drum head as it has vented holes all around the edge of the surface. This is designed to avoid unwanted harmonics and make for a really tight snare sound. The overtone control makes this snare head suitable for studio use, but also means that it can have some real bite in a live scenario too. All these features add up to an impressive, snappy drum sound that a lot of drummers love, hence the Evans Genera HD being one of the best selling snare heads on the market.

Aquarian Drumheads TCFX14 Coated Focus-X

We wanted to mix things up a little in terms of brands and plies. This is a single ply drum head we’ve been very impressed with, made by Aquarian, a brand growing in popularity.

This is called the focus-x as it has been designed to eliminate all unwanted ring. Combine that with a nice little muffle from the muffling ring included and the fact it is coated and you end up with a lovely, rich sounding snare drum.

It is on the more expensive side, and only comes in a few different sizes, but a look at some reviews will show a lot of people praising the immense durability of this batter head, and its ability to turn an average sounding snare into a clear and pro sounding one.

Coated or Clear Drum Heads?

This is another decision to make when choosing your drum head. It will largely come down to the style you play and the sort of sound you are going for.

Coated heads give a little bit more of a muffled sound, and a lot of people like this for snares. They’re great for any drummer who plays with brushes, and essential for getting the signature ‘brushed’ sound. On the contrary, clear drum heads tend to give more of a defined attack once the beater is hit. This can be popular with some styles of play, and you can always control the muffle of the snare with a separate muffler, tape or other technique.

The choice of coated vs clear is very much one of personal preference.

Some terms to understand when choosing a snare head:

  • Muffler – this does what it says on the tin and ‘muffles’ the sound. Something achieved in bass drums by putting a pillow inside. This has historically been done on snares with tape or other devices, but now can be done within the head itself.
  • Batter head – this is a term you may see whilst looking at products, and it simply means the side of the snare you are hitting (the one we’re looking at drum heads for).
  • Tuning – tuning will go hand-in-hand with your drum head. Over time, drum heads can lose their tension and need to be tuned up again with a tuning key. Some drummers prefer different levels of tension and therefore different tuning. More info on tuning can be found in the video below.

Conclusion

Hopefully, from the wealth of information we’ve provided, you’ll be able to tell your Remo from your Evans, and work out which features you are looking for, and therefore which head is best for your own needs. You should go into this buying decision with an idea of what sound you are looking for from your drum head. This will make the process much simpler.

If you have any snare head tips or experience with different models, we’d love to hear your comments below.

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