Phase Polarity And Sampler Instruments

How to use phase invert

Do you need to think about phasing when working with samples? 

What is “Phase Invert”?

When we invert an entire signal, it implies that we transform all negative values into identical positive values, and likewise, all positive values become identical but negative. 

channel strip with a reset button, left-right shift, pan, stereo width, and a 4-band EQ are included
Kontakt Libraries By Wrongtools

What is “Phase” in audio?

When we mix two identical sine wave signals with a 180-degree phase difference, complete signal cancellation occurs, resulting in silence or no activity in the resulting signal. When the phase difference is somewhere between these extremes, we observe either a degree of amplification or attenuation, accompanied by a phase shift in the resulting mixed signal.

The term “phase” is a purely mathematical concept, closely associated with pure sine waves, which are defined by the equation y = sin(x).  By entering various x values into the calculator and observing the corresponding y values, you can plot a graph with the x data along the horizontal axis and the corresponding y results along the vertical axis, revealing a flawless sine wave.


A Warning

But pressing the phase-invert button can also lead to poor even catastrofic  results when the track is played in mono.  Certain devices like mobile phones, wireless speakers, inexpensive TVs, and portable radios possess a mono speaker, causing the left and right channels of any music to be combined before outputting in mono. If the left and right channels have a phase discrepancy, cancellation can occur. 

As a result, the presence of significant phase disparities can lead to alterations, enhancements, or even the loss of desirable qualities in the recorded or played-back sound.

Why is there a phase-invert switch in Wrongtools channel-strips?

In the channel-strip section of Wrongtools’ instruments, there’s a phase -invert switch. 

The principles of inverting phase, stereo-alignment, cancellation, track coherency, and checking for phase-related issues play a crucial role in our sample recording and production.  We flip and check phase frequently while recording and mixing.  And all the time while mapping our sampler-instruments.  (So that you don’t have to!) 

But you can actually change the sound characteristics of the track by experimenting with the polarity.   We use the button in combination with the pan and stereo-width sliders, while mixing the sampler instrument together with other instruments. It’s all about making things sound better, but don’t press this button without checking the mono compatibility afterwards. Because you basically restructure the way the samples are recorded.  The resulting sound can become unbalanced, and loose power. 

The most unfavourable scenario arises when both channels carry identical signals with opposite polarities – combining the two channels to generate a mono signal would result in silence!

We have experienced using virtual instruments (recorded with FXs and reverbs etc) from certain developers, that they are not mono-compatible 🤨 !! 

bass modelled recorded and processed entirely using vintage outboard hardware

Phase polarity and virtual instruments

Phase-cancelation is something that you really don’t need to think about when using instruments from Wrongtools ! We process and record our samples through analogue hardware and places the mics with great care and according to all theories and laws. By keeping the recorded signals separate without electronic or software mixing, the likelihood of cancellation is significantly reduced.

But the concept of phase is still relevant in the realm of audio-samples because, we can consider all sounds and signals to be comprised of multiple sound-waves combined together. When we combine audio signals, whether in a mixing console, a digital audio workstation (DAW), or through particle collisions in a physical acoustic environment, it becomes possible for similar signals to either reinforce each other or cancel each other out based on their phase differences.

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