I’ve been right there with you a million times. The mix is weak. Sure, it’s balanced, clear, halfway decent…but it is lacking that oomph. That boom. That punch-you-in-the-gut feeling. No matter how many more things you throw at your mix, the problem only seems to get worse.
What the hell? Do I just suck at this? Why can’t I get this to sound good?
Back to basics, kids. Let’s talk about phase.
I’m not going to bore you with technical jargon about phase relationships. There are plenty of great information sources out there that do this already (see here and here). What I’m going to tell you is how to make it not suck anymore.
- Are you continually boosting the low end on your kick drum but it doesn’t quite seem to do anything?
- Are you messing around to find the perfect relationship between your bass amp mic and the bass D.I. but nothing seems to work?
If so, you probably have…(dun, dun, dunnnnn)…phase issues.
Thank freaking goodness it is easy to fix. Here’s how:
1. Mute everything. Pan all your drums dead center and get them all relatively the same volume.
2. Start with the snare and snare bottom mics (as this is out of phase 4 out of 5 times). Solo them and hit play.
4. Flip the phase in and then out on the snare bottom mic. Listen to the low end. Which one has more low end? Stick with that one.
5. Now bring in your kick drum. Compare that to your snare. I typically have my snare top and bottom mics both routed to an aux bus. I’ll flip the phase in and out on the snare aux bus, which will now be affecting both the snare top and bottom. Which has more low end, phase in or out? Stick with that.
6. Now solo just the kick and the toms. Flip the phase in and out on the toms.
7. Repeat this between the kick and every other drum mic.
8. If you have a bass amp mic and a bass D.I. signal, flip the phase on one of those and see which is better.
Wait a sec, what’s that? Is that….LOW END?!It is really that simple. Do this at the start of every single mix you ever do starting right now and going until the Haley-Bopp comet comes back around and we all exit to the motherland while sipping on our arsenic-laced piña coladas .
Yes, it’s a bit laborious and no, I don’t particularly enjoy doing it. But you know what I enjoy even less than checking phase? Mixes that don’t shake the floor and rattle my colon. Suck it up, do it, and enjoy the newfound balls in your mixes!
Share your war stories and thoughts in the comments below.