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Phase Issues with this recording? Fixable?


I lurked on this site a lot some years ago, and may never have posted. Posting now, though, made me think of the joke about the parents who were worried because their 5 year old boy never spoke. Then one day at breakfast, he said, "The toast is burned." The parents were thrilled, but then asked why he'd not spoken all this time. He said, "Up until now, everything's been OK."

I made some stereo “field” recordings recently with a Roland Edirol R-09HR (now antique) of me and a friend playing music in his living room. We were seated on either sides of a coffee table facing each other, and the Edirol and mini-mic stand was midway between us. The stereo mics were split out about a foot apart on goosenecks pointing directly at each of us. I played fiddle and he played guitar and sang. The recordings were 16 bit, 44.1 wave files.

After splitting the stereo into two mono files in my DAW, I was surprised to learn that the only way it sounds good is if the two tracks are panned pretty much just like they were recorded: +100 and -100. I've since recorded bass and drums to add, but I can't re-pan these tracks to re-mix without them sounding crappy and being headache inducing. From reading online, it appears that the bleed has caused phase issues. I tried reversing the polarity on one of the tracks, but that was not a solution. When I bring up a phase meter, it's all over the place, but is most stable when the tracks are panned at +&-100. Is this a phase issue, and is there a mixing fix of any kind?

Any help is appreciated!


Attached files Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out.mp3 (12.1 MB) 


bouldersound Wed, 04/17/2019 - 15:29
There are two problems with the recording, and phase is the lesser of them. Bleed is the cause of both. What's hurting the recording most is vocal bleed into the fiddle mic. It's not so much the mic placement as it is the room reflections. I'm hearing a lot of vocal bouncing off walls into the fiddle mic.

There are two things you can do to improve the results. One is to treat the room. The other, perhaps more convenient and practical one, is to adjust mic placement. This is a good example of when to exploit the inverse square law via the 3:1 rule of thumb. Place the guitar/vocal mic so the distance between it and the guitar/vocal is not more than 1/3 the distance between it and the fiddle. Do the equivalent for the fiddle mic. That will help mitigate the effects of direct path bleed and as a byproduct it will mitigate the indirect (reflected) path bleed (which seems to be the real problem).

As for acoustic treatments, something on the walls to break up those reflections would help. I'll let you research acoustic absorption and diffusion. Some sort of gobo between the mics would further reduce bleed.

I would start with mic placement then resort to treatment as needed.

As far as fixing the mix, there's little that can be done. Since most of the bleed is guitar and vocal in the fiddle mic you might try nudging the guitar/vocal mic later on the timeline to reduce direct path phase issues. But that doesn't really fix the reflected path bleed. I tried that and it only got marginally better.

pcrecord Thu, 04/18/2019 - 06:31
Where bleeding get's in the way is if you have to EQ the track a lot because you are changing the main instrument's sound and the bleed at the same time..
This is why mic choice and placement is so important.. if you are able to make a recording that doesn't need EQ or very little chances are you are going to end with a bleed that sounds ok and will sit properly in the final mix.

Fab Dupont said '' You need to make the bleeding sound good ! '' ;)

Phase is also a thing that makes people cringe but shouldn't. If it sounds good, don't worry ! if it doesn't time to move the mics around...
To me phase is my first EQ tool when recording an instrument with more than one mic. For exemple a guitar cab. Move on mic an inch and the sound chances a lot !

Keep doing it !

paulears Fri, 04/19/2019 - 07:58
You might find that adding a little reverb to the individual tracks helps it stop 'arguing' with each other? Just a bit and it can blend the edges a little. A useful trick with fiddles. Obviously you don't want it to sound 'churchy' but just a small amount can work wonders for clarity and blending.

Link555 Tue, 04/23/2019 - 21:47
Love this song....Treat the mics like an audience, and position yourself like you would for a crowd. Rather then across from each other. In old days musician moved around the mic to get best image. Distance helps blend the bleed, but also picks up more of the room reflections, best to aborb the primary reflection...


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