polarity-before or after recording?

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snoopy23
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polarity-before or after recording?

Post by snoopy23 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:30 am

Okay, I am obviously not a scientist or even a techie by any claim. My question is this: can someone explain to me in layman's terms if switching polarity on a track that is already recorded actually changes the polarity of the playback? I want to know if I can deal with phasing issues during mixdown or do I need to have the polarity questions worked out before I hit the tape? If not, why not? Remember, I am a normal person. I can program a vcr, but if you start talking about flux rates and fletcher-munsen whatever, my eyes glaze over.
Thanks for helping a (relative) newbie.
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Post by the finger genius » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:24 am

The quick answer is, yes you can do it in mixdown.

Long Answer:

I think many people on this board would advise you (if you can) to at least have a good listen before tracking and try flipping before laying down tracks, to commit to "tape" whatever sounds better. You can always flip back (again) in mixdown if for whatever reason you like it better that way.

On the other hand, I'm in a situation without any control room, and I'm pretty much always sitting in the same small room as drums while tracking, usually right next to them with headphones, so I don't often have this luxury. When I need to (which is fairly rare since I seldom use more than three or four drum mics) I end up flipping phase with a plug in after the fact. When doing this, you also have to be aware of whatever latency the plug in might be introducing (assuming you're using a DAW without automatic latency compensation.)
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Post by RoyMatthews » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:42 am

the finger genius wrote:The quick answer is, yes you can do it in mixdown.

Long Answer:

I think many people on this board would advise you (if you can) to at least have a good listen before tracking and try flipping before laying down tracks, to commit to "tape" whatever sounds better. You can always flip back (again) in mixdown if for whatever reason you like it better that way.

On the other hand, I'm in a situation without any control room, and I'm pretty much always sitting in the same small room as drums while tracking, usually right next to them with headphones, so I don't often have this luxury. When I need to (which is fairly rare since I seldom use more than three or four drum mics) I end up flipping phase with a plug in after the fact. When doing this, you also have to be aware of whatever latency the plug in might be introducing (assuming you're using a DAW without automatic latency compensation.)
What Finger said. Plus, I'd add that if you do find that you need to flip the polarity of a track after recording then process the file with the flip. I know in PT there's an Invert Audiosuite. I'm sure there's similar options in other DAWs. This way you don't have to think about it again and save on processing power and latency.
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Post by farview » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:47 am

The only thing I have to add is that it depends on how you are mixing it down. I've had a mixing board that had a polarity reverse switch that only worked on the mic preamps and line inputs and NOT the tape returns...

IF you are working in a DAW, this is not a problem.

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Post by the finger genius » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:49 am

Good point.
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Post by chris harris » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:00 am

Get it right during tracking, where you still have the option to change mics or move them around to get the sounds right. If you've got phasing when you're listening and getting sounds, how do you know if that kick mic sounds as good as it can. What if you wait until after the fact and discover that the kick track sounds really wrong.

Getting it right during tracking lets you hear exactly what you're capturing.

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Post by cgarges » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:44 am

subatomic pieces wrote:Get it right during tracking, where you still have the option to change mics or move them around to get the sounds right. If you've got phasing when you're listening and getting sounds, how do you know if that kick mic sounds as good as it can. What if you wait until after the fact and discover that the kick track sounds really wrong.

Getting it right during tracking lets you hear exactly what you're capturing.
+1!

If you get the polarity right at the beginning, it's amazing how much less EQ and additional processing you'll find yourself needing to use.

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Post by ott0bot » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:47 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:Get it right during tracking, where you still have the option to change mics or move them around to get the sounds right. If you've got phasing when you're listening and getting sounds, how do you know if that kick mic sounds as good as it can. What if you wait until after the fact and discover that the kick track sounds really wrong.

Getting it right during tracking lets you hear exactly what you're capturing.
Exactly! Especially when recording analog. Getting rid of the phase on drum mic's and dual mic'd guitar cabs really makes it sound better than trying to pull it out of the mix later. Take and extra 10 minutes to adjust the mics and find the perfect sound rather than wasting much more time later trying to fix it.

But if you do wind up with some phase, it's pretty easy to process the audio on a DAW without any lag or change in quality. I do that when micing mid-side into protools. Just a quick pan and invert process and you're set for a nice full sound without the phase.

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Post by farview » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:19 pm

I would also like to point out that not every phase problem is 180 degrees out. 90 degrees out of phase sounds like crap too, but the phase button won't help you. It's better to move the mic if you have the choice.

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Post by bigtexasthriller » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:00 pm

Yeah, you want to print the best quality sounds you can to tape or your DAW.....That said, I have gotten killer sounds recording guitars out of phase with a 57 in front, and a 421 behind the speaker.....
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Post by cgarges » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:19 pm

bigtexasthriller wrote:That said, I have gotten killer sounds recording guitars out of phase with a 57 in front, and a 421 behind the speaker.....
If you're flipping the polarity of one of the mics in that scenario, then you're actually recording the combined signal "in phase." The opposing movement of the speaker creates a negative phase relationship between mics in front of and behind the speaker. Flipping the polarity of one of them corrects the relationship.

But yeah, it can be really cool to record stuff intentionally out of phase.

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Post by joel hamilton » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:44 am

farview wrote:I would also like to point out that not every phase problem is 180 degrees out. 90 degrees out of phase sounds like crap too, but the phase button won't help you. It's better to move the mic if you have the choice.
true, but I would add:

Phase "issues" are NEVER 180 degrees out, but the idea is to listen, and decide whether 41+ or 41- gives you a more flattering result, and at that point, IMHO, you would move the mic if both switch positions sound crappy to you.

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polarity switching before or after

Post by snoopy23 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:20 am

That is all excellent advice. I am going to try and get it right before I hit the tape, I agree that extra eq'ing and switching after the fact will only complicate things. Tape Op rocks!!
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Post by cjmnash » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:36 pm

something i like to do (which is common practice) is click out mics using an acoustic phase checker to make sure all the mics are in phase all the way to "tape" before i start getting sounds, that way i know that any phase flipping i'm doing is to hear sonic differences, not compensate for an out of phase mic, cable, or compressor.

this isn't the same brand i own, but the first that came up in a google search:

http://www.alphaton.com/english/products/pc-100-e.htm

it's amazing what i learned about my gear (and other studios) when i started clicking out every session! LOL

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Post by cgarges » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:58 pm

cjmnash wrote:something i like to do (which is common practice) is click out mics using an acoustic phase checker to make sure all the mics are in phase all the way to "tape" before i start getting sounds, that way i know that any phase flipping i'm doing is to hear sonic differences, not compensate for an out of phase mic, cable, or compressor.
Good point, too. I have a few mics that are wired pin 3 hot, so I know that I have to reverse those if I'm using them next to a mic that's pin 2 hot in an x-y arrangement, for example.

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