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Check the Phase?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by shox, Mar 18, 2002.

  1. shox

    shox Guest

    I keep seeing "check the phase" as part of an answer or advice given. I know how phase can help or hinder a sound but are there specific ways to "check the phase" (i.e. phase meter) or is it an ear thing (listening for lack of bass or phasiness)? Are there plugins like the Waves stuff that can help? What exactly does flipping the phase do to a sound and when do you use it? I would really appreciate some help on this cuz right now it's beginning to sound like voodoo. Thanks.
  2. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    Make sure you are not confusing polarity with phase. Phasing occurs, as an example, when the same sound reaches two or more microphones that are different distances from the source. As a result, there is introduced one or more small delays relative to the closest mic.

    Polarity is when the waveform is inverted - a mirror image if you will. This is often caused by miswired cables or connectors (or different manufacturer's pin specs) and can be simply corrected by flipping the polarity switch on the console or preamp.

    Sometimes phase problems in a stereo signal can be helped by flipping polarity - so that peaks get lined up closer to peaks rather than valleys in multiple mic sources.
  3. Juergen

    Juergen Guest

    Do you work on a DAW where you can zoom into the wave representations?

    Ok, when mic'ing a snare from the top or the bottom, your waveforms will look like they are inverted, so switching the polarity on one of them will bring back some frequencies that you didn't previuosly hear (low end) and the sound of the snare will be a lot clearer.

    When recording drums, the more mics you throw on the kit, the more phasing issues you will have. I had never thought of checking what I had recorded (it's good practice to check beforehand), but once I started nudging my toms around a bit and aligning them up with other mics, everything started becoming a lot more clear. It might seem like hairsplitting, but nudging tracks back or forth 2 samples can make a whole lot of difference in how your high frequencies sound.

    The only problem is that I am not sure whether I have found a goldmine or a timewaster. :)

    If you wanna be the totally anal perfectionist type of guy you could align the tracks manually (if you work on a DAW) so the "relevant waveform parts" of your tracks are close to perfectly lined up. I tried it once, got tired and use the polarity switch whenever I need to. Sometimes I'll shift tracks around a bit when I can't stay against the temptation...

    In all cases, it is best to trust your ears. Sometimes stuff that doesn't look right on screen sounds absolutely best.

    Waves has a plugin called analyzer or something, which gives you a spectrogram and I think shows you how you are doing phasewise.

    What plug ins do you use? Have you noticed the mess that plug-in delay can cause, phasewise? I find it very difficult to mix without compensating for the plug-in delay manually (I don't have automatic plug-in compensation).

    Anyone correct me if you need to. Among other things, I am generally eager to be corrected/learn.

  4. shox

    shox Guest

    I have been "anal" with my drum tracks for a while now. I nudge my tracks (in DP3, by the way) and it seems to make a huge difference soundwise. I am also in the process of getting latency times for all my plugins so I can shift to compensate for that as well. I use all the Waves stuff, TC, Channelstrip, Realverb and various VST plugins as well. Having to manually shift tracks to cover the latency is a pain but I'm finding it essential to get a nice, clean mix.

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