When talking about mixing, you often hear about mixing in mono or at least checking your mix in mono. You should do this to check for phase cancellation issues. Or short, phase issues! Now you're probably wondering what phase issues are and why you should solve them. No problem, I got you and will cover the whole topic today!
Table of Contents:
1 - What is phase cancellation?
Phase cancellation can appear when you double elements like a guitar for example. The doubled elements work great when you listen in stereo, but in mono, they will nearly disappear. That happens because the waveforms are clashing with each other. Everything above zero pushes the speaker out, and everything below zero brings the speaker back in (notice the vibrations on your (sub)woofer for example). When the signal on the right is the exact opposite of the signal on the left, merged together it will be zero.
This mostly happens when you're listening on mono systems like in a club for example. But it can also affect your mix when listening in stereo, just way less. You should find out about problems like this as early as possible. So let's talk about how you can diagnose them and how you can fix them.
2 - Diagnosing phase issues
For diagnosing phase issues you can use phase correlation meters. Sometimes they come with a DAW, like in logic. If your DAW doesn't have one, no problem, most free plugins like Ozone Imager and Voxengo Span have a correlation meter as well.
To use it, you have to understand it at first. So you can see the bar with -1, 0, and +1 in the picture below.
This bar shows a stereo signals mono compatibility and will help you to find phase issues. If the bar goes in the direction of -1, it means that the right and left channels are 180 degrees out of phase. The +1 means the opposite and the 0 just means that the two signals have nothing in common. While listening the bar will vary between the different numbers and you will find out about the mono compatibility.
But what is good?
Audio with no phase issues is usually between 0 and +1 and dips sometimes in the negative area. You should just make sure that the bar isn't in the negative region all the time.
3 - How to fix phase issues
Fixing phase issues isn't too hard. There is more than one method and I'll present to you 2 of them today!
The easiest way to fix phase issues is by using a mid-side eq. Load up the EQ on your master and select the sides. So what we're going to do on the EQ is just cut the lows of your stereo image and make them mono. If you want a specific number, you can make frequencies below 100hz mono. We usually don't even want low frequencies on the stereo field so it's not a problem to do. If you now take a look at your phase correlation meter, you will notice that your phase issues are away!
The second method takes more time and is a bit harder. You basically listen to two elements like a kick and hats for example. You solo them, take a look at the correlation meter and see if they are in phase. If not, use a phase invert tool on one of them, and you're good to go. This usually works best for drums.
If you feel like you always struggle with phase issues, you maybe should try the mixing in mono technique. HERE is a blog about how to use it!
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