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How to properly check the phase when recording drums

Drums

I struggled with this for a long time, and I really wish someone had just written out a fast and easy method to check the phase properly. It’s obviously harder to judge what’s in phase and what’s out of phase when you don’t even know what it sounds like so I highly recommend doing some experiments on your own. Take two mics and a speaker playing music. Start by mic’ing the speaker with both mics lined up perfectly parallel to each other so they’ll be completely in phase. Then put on headphones and begin to move the microphone further away from each other a few inches at a time. You should be able to hear the phase relationship changing for the worse. Once you know what phase cancellation sounds like, you can accurately judge what is in and out of phase. Set up your drum mics and follow these easy steps to correctly recorded drums.

Given to Greg Scott (owner of Kush Audio) by Joe Barresi. As heard on the UBK Happy Funtime Hour podcast.

  1. Put overheads up at unity gain, panned center
  2. Flip the polarity (by pressing the phase button on your mic pre or using a plugin) on one side, it should sound better when the polarity IS NOT flipped, it should retain more low end
  3. Keep everything panned center and bring up the snare, flip the polarity and make sure it sounds better when the polarity IS NOT flipped, pull fader down to 0 after
  4. Bring up the kick drum, flip the polarity, does it sound better?, if so then leave it flipped, if not then flip it back, now pull fader down to 0
  5. Bring up the toms, flip the polarity on the toms, does it sound better?, if so then leave it flipped, if not then flip it back, now pull fader down to 0
  6. Mute out overheads, bring up kick and snare, flip polarity on one, it should sound better when the polarity IS NOT flipped
  7. Keep doing this until you find the correct configuration where everything is working together

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