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One of the most important yet overlooked parts of the drum mix is checking the phase of the drums. This is important because not only will an out-of-phase channel suck the low end out of a mix, but it'll get more difficult to fix as the mix progresses. In this video, I'm going to show you how to check the phase of the drums and select the correct settings. So the first thing is there's two reasons why a drum channel, or any kind of channel for that matter, can be out of phase. The first thing could be a mis-wired cable and this could either be a mic cable that was wired backwards, because a lot of people wire their own cables, save a little bit of money, or it could be because during a studio install, the installer didn't have his first cup of coffee in the morning and didn't wear his glasses or something that day, and the things are mis-wired.
So, just that one cable can cause things to be out of phase. The other reason why you can have something out of phase is because you have two microphones that are very, very close to listening to the exact same sound source, and when that happens you have a potential phase problem that happens, and we'll see how that works in a little bit. So the first thing I'm going to do is make sure that I have a plug-in on each channel, and usually a plug-in will have the ability to allow you to switch the phase. So for instance, over here on this compressor we have a little button here which is a zero with a line through it, and what that is this is a symbol of phase.
So in order for us to really hear it, what we're going to do in this case is we're going to listen to the kick drums by themselves, but we want them to be exactly the same level. So here's the kick drum. (music playing) Here's the second one. (music playing) We want them to be about the exact same level, again, not the fader level; we're looking at the Master Mix Meter instead. (music playing) Now watch when I change the Phase button here.
When it's blue it's out of phase. (music playing) There is more low end when it's not select than when it is selected. What that means is both channels are in phase, and the best selection here is the one that gives you the most low end. We're always going for the selection that has the most low end. The next thing we're going to do is go to our overheads where we can really hear it.
There's two overheads. There's a left and right overhead. We're going to solo those up, listen to them. (music playing) I've inserted a one-band EQ across each of these channels. I don't much care about the EQ; what I do care about is the ability to change the phase. And once again, on the input here we have a selector to be able to change from one side of the phase to the other.
Now, listen to what it sounds like when we select it. (music playing) Pretty dramatic. The selection that we want is the one that gives us the most low end. That's when it's in phase. If we have something that's out of phase, you're going to have low end that gets sucked out. It won't be all the frequencies; it will be some of them.
So now what we'll actually do is we'll go through each channel, we'll hit that Phase button, and we'll see if there's change, and if there is, we'll select the position that gives us the most low end. (music playing) Don't hear much of a difference there. We'll move on. (music playing) No difference there either.
(music playing) I don't hear any difference there. And we'll keep on doing this. We'll go through all the channels and we'll flip the phase. Sometimes what we'll do if it starts to sound funny, you can solo a few channels up and listen to what it sounds like there. But you'll know if there's something very much out of phase, you'll hear it right away as soon as you hit that selector switch. Not only will an out-of-phase channel suck the low end and out of a mix, but it'll get increasingly more difficult to fix as the mix progresses.
No amount of EQ or compression or anything else can fix it.
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