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Another option that you will find on preamplifiers and preamplifiers that are built into audio interfaces is what's called the Phase Reversal button, and what this does is it flips the signal that's coming into that input 180 degrees out of phase. Now you remember in chapter 1, we talked about phase and out of phase and phase issues and the cancellation that can happen. Normally, that's a bad thing, but the reason they give you the switch and the reason we have this option is because sometimes you are dealing with things that are already out of phase, sometimes it sounds just the way two microphones are placed in relationship to the same sound, other times it can be a cable.
You can have one cable that's wired differently than another and so you can have phase issues with that. So they put this on preamps so that if you hear what sounds like a phase problem, you can hit it and flip the phase of one of the inputs. Phase is a big deal if you are going to mono, and I know that it's now what 2007 or so and mono is not that big of a deal--although, as we get back into kind of compressing music for the web and stuff like that, somehow it's resurfaced--but back in the day, mono was a huge deal in AM radio, and you would record, and if things were out of phase, you put it on the radio, basically like your lead vocal would all of a sudden disappear because it was out of phase on the radio, huge mistake.
So people who are really concerned about things being in phase and not being out of phase because of that cancellation. So nowadays, if you do happen to record something that is out of phase, and you are lucky enough to record it to its own channel, you can actually via software go ahead and flip the phase of that sound wave or that waveform again and correct phase issues later in your software. But if you hear it or if you know it's going on, it's always better to take care of it first, and definitely if you are combining a lot of inputs like if you are miking a whole drum setup, and you think you've got some phase issues between the snare drum and the Toms, and you know that you are bouncing that stuff into your computer down to like two or three tracks, you want to take care of that phase now because that you can't fix later once it's married to another track in your computer.
I will explain some of these things a little bit later in terms of independent tracks and bouncing things down, but the point is phase is something to pay attention to, and it's better if you can deal with it when you first hear it. Sometimes, you won't know you are hearing it 'til later, 'til you are doing a mix, and something sounds kind of out of whack. So luckily, with digital audio we can actually go back and then kind of make some tweaks and get it back into phase more often than not. It's typically just a simple push button on or off, and it's marked by a little circle with a line through it, which is the auto phase symbol.
Generally, you will have one button per input because you don't want to switch all the inputs out of phase at the same time. So it's a channel-by-channel option. So that's more or less the story of phase and phase reverse and why that button is there, and it's kind of like fighting fire with fire. It's good to have. We don't want to have to use it, but it's there. It can take care of things that are out of whack. In the next section, we will actually look at preamp and take a look at the features and functions and a lot of these buttons I have been talking about, and we will do a few audio examples of what the buttons actually do when you push them in things like that.
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