| Don't let anyone tell you that
polarity doesn't change the sound.
It does. If you "visualize" the sound coming out of your speakers
-- imagine whether the attack seems to pull first or push. I
know. We're getting into wild stuff here. Electronically,
gear doesn't care if the polarity is reversed. It acts the
same. But your ears react differently to the sound when it's
contrary to nature. I know, some musicians are contrary to nature
and they are way cool anyway!
it can really count: Imagine
that your kic drum is out of
polarity and it's pulling on the initial attack. Now imagine that
your bass is polarity correct and the initial punch of the bass is
pushing. Your kic is pulling and your bass is pushing. How's that for
not really helping create coherent punch!!!! Want
to create more complex waveforms that are harder to "decipher" or
figure out why the sound isn't as muscular as the big name
recordings? Oh, and out of polarity cymbals sound more harsh than
if they're correct. Same with guitars and vocals.
Be sure that your bounced mix and/ or Separations are polarity correct
too. This means if you look at your kic drum and the polarity is
correct (waveform goes up before it goes down) -- load your mixdowns
and Separations into a new session and check to be sure that the kic is
going the same way. We have seen some files where the bounces are
polarity reversed from the mixdown in the session. We have also seen
sampled drums that didn't have the correct polarity.
kic is correct - the leading edge goes up first before going
|This snare is incorrect (unless you
like the sound, but be careful that this isn't occurring at the same
time as another track that is correct. They will counter-act each other
and lessen the punch.
cymbal hit is correct.
|This bass track is
What to do:
Insert a plugin to correct the track's polarity. It may be
called "Invert Phase" - and relative to another track, yes you could
call it phase. But relative to itself (absolute) the concern is
Head off the
problem in the tracking studio: check the phase/polarity of every wire, mic pre, patch
point, input into your recording system, etc.
• Take a pair of drum sticks and click them together in
front of a particular mic. Note what cable, what input, etc. Record the
click into your system. Look at the waveform. If the click starts up
before it goes down, you're good! If not, something in that signal path
is flipping the ... phase/polarity.
• Slap the bass! Plug in the bass into every bass/keyboard
DI (one at a time) and smack the strings... within reason. Record the
smack into your system. If the leading edge of the waveform looks like
the one in purple above.... not good. If the leading edge goes up
first... you're good!
• Same thing for any guitar "pods" or keyboards. Any sharp
percussive sound will do the trick. A vocal or gradual strum of a
guitar... not as easy to see what's going on.
a polarity checker hardware box like this
one - Erik Zobler has one so we
should all have one!
Q: If a
drum has the mic mounted on top would the signal not go down first due
to the drop in pressure from the head moving away from the mic? - Mike
"slow motion" we could say that the stick does force the top head down
first. Responding to the air pressure from the top head, the bottom
head simultaneously goes toward the floor in a positive excursion. So
the decision, when using 2 mics, about reversing polarity on one of
those snare mics would be determined by the preferred sound, especially
in combination with the overheads, toms, etc. (Read Secret #3 about overhead phase solutions relative
to the snare.)
question applies to toms too. I never liked miking the bottom of a tom,
but listeners in the audience hear the positive excursion more than the
top surface the drummer hears. From the listener's perspective out in
the audience (or the room mic's perspective), the question would be
which part is heard dominantly. We're probably nit-picking, but what
the heck. Oh then there's miking the front of the kic vs. miking the
kic head on the beater side....
it all plays out in my mastering room. When I separate any drums and
set the polarity for all positive, it sounds punchier. From the aspect
of a close mic on the top of the snare, that's not natural. But neither
is compression. No snare drum in nature is compressed, unless done over
an electronic system.
polarity to positive sounds better in my opinion in most cases. The
listener's speakers push before they pull when the drum is struck. If
that's more polarity-consistent electronically-acoustically with bass
etc., despite being less natural, then there's a case to consider the
polarity aspect of the drums.
For SURE, a
kic drum sounds better pushing, not pulling. Given that most kic's are
miked from the front, we're comfortable with that sound. If it's also
more polarity-aligned with the bass, there's probably good reason for
our preference in this area.
offering may be a way to look at the snare and toms in a similar way to
the way we look at the kic - but simply using an electronic tool to
accomplish that result - the polarity plug in (or the console/mic pre
phase reverse button).
02/11/11 - Updated 12-16-11
Fly Miracle Project
Fly Miracle Project