Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Checking the phase by listening, part of Audio Recording Techniques.
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Checking the phase is essential, not only on the drums, but any instrument being miked with more than a single microphone. This is important because not only will an out of phase channel suck the low end out of a mix, but it will be more difficult to fix later when it's time to mix. Here is a very simple and quick way to check your phase even after something has been recorded. Checking the phase is essential whenever you'll be using multiple microphones like in the case of miking the drums. The chances for a phase problem are far greater on the drum kit, since it usually has more mics on it than any other instrument.
The mics will never be completely in phase, but some problems will be diminished by reversing polarity in some of the channels. The only way to determine this is through experimentation and listening. Here is the way to check the phase after the drums have been recorded. (music playing) Listen to the overheads in your monitors with them panned hard left and right, and listen to them panned to the center. Did they sound thin or swishy when they are panned to the center? Is there more low end when you flip the phase switch on one of them? Choose the position of the phase switch that sounds the best, pan them back into stereo, then go onto the next step. Add the kick drum channel to the mix.
Switch the polarity on the kick channel of the console or DAW. (music playing) Is there more low end when you flip the Phase Switch? Stay with the position that has the fullest sound. Add the snare drum channel to the mix. Switch the Polarity on the snare channel of the console or DAW. Is there more low end when you flip the Phase Switch? Stay with the position that has the fullest sound. Do this for each channel that's been recorded, always stay with the position of the Phase switch that has the most bottom.
(music playing) Ultimately, you can't totally avoid phase cancellation, but you can make sure that it sounds as good as possible. Remember one position of the phase switch will always sound fuller then the other. (music playing) To sum things up, a mic can be out of phase due to a mis-wired cable or poor mic placement. That's important because an out of phase channel will suck the low end out of the mix, and be very difficult to fix later.
To determine the phase of your tracks select both positions of the Phase Switch on each channel and choose the one with the most low end. (music playing)
- Optimizing your listening environment
- Listening to how different microphone types affect recording
- Choosing the right microphone for the right recording application
- Positioning microphones for a wide variety of recording scenarios
- Utilizing proper gain staging, preamps, and direct boxes
- Avoiding phase cancellation
- Using a compressor, equalizer, and high-pass filter during recording
- Setting up a headphone mix
- Adding the right amount of compression or equalization
- Capturing great sounds from drums, guitars, basses, keyboards, pianos, strings, and vocals
- Creating a great drum set sound
- Getting the best out of any singer
- Dealing with microphone leakage
- Utilizing a variety of stereo miking techniques
- Setting up and producing a recording session
- Creating a rough mix in any digital audio workstation (DAW)