Phase Trick on Multi-Mic sources

One thing about phase is that whenever you have multi-mic on a single source, there would be a phase relationship between what’s been recorded by each of those microphones. When the combination of these signals have phase problems, you would hear things sounding hollow, lack of focus and specific frequencies sounding missing.

In a case where there’s a drum kit that is mic-ed with spaced-pair overheads, 1 mic on kick, 1 mic on snare, sometimes you would need to hit the phase button on the kick/ snare to see which sound you would prefer. Often times, the difference is dramatic, but sometimes it isn’t (where the engaged/not-engaged sound equally bad).

I’m going to talk about the latter case.

What to do when the phase button isn’t making much of a difference and neither settings sound good

When mixing my record, one scenario I ran into was where the snare’s phase setting, in relation to the overheads didn’t really make a difference, and didn’t sound particularly good. Then it occurred to me that every time I EQ a signal – any signal, the EQ itself is already changing the phase response of whatever it’s processing. If I change any settings, let’s say – even simply by nudging an already-existing high-pass-filter acting on the signal, by maybe 10 Hz higher or lower than my original 100Hz setting (or vary the Q) – whatever change in setting, then that itself is changing the phase response than what it was before. Changing the phase response of one signal (my snare) would change the phase relationship of that against my other signal(s) (overheads, kick).

Nudging EQ settings to change the phase response and the phase relationship with other signals

I did just that – nudged a subtle EQ setting of my snare, THEN go back-and-forth with the snare phase button. The difference between when the phase button is engaged or vice versa was then quite a bit more dramatic before. The ‘better’ version did in fact sound a lot better than before I did all this.

Of course, when you sweep the EQ setting, you may be already be able to find a spot where things overall just sound better, without hitting that phase button – but the point of this post is to mention that a nudge in an existing EQ setting every so slightly may be all that you need.

To summarize:

  • Apply equalization changes a phase response of a signal.
  • Changing equalization settings would change the phase response and its relationship with other signals.
  • Making a slight equalization settings change could help create a bigger difference between whether the phase button is engaged or not.

 

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