how do you check for phase issues?

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Post 21 May 2023

Does Reason have a way to see if, for example, a synth bass, or any other instrument is out of phase? If so, how do you fix it? I want to be able to check each instrument as I'm mixing. I know about the free plugin called Span but for some reason it's not working after an hour of trying to install/reinstall it.

First I accidentally installed Span Plus, not knowing it's a demo because you have to buy that one. So it was working but randomly mutes. So I deleted it and downloaded the free Span. Put it in my VST3 folder.

*Sidenote: I thought everything should be in Go/Library/Audio/Plugins/VST3. But all of the few folders in Audio are empty. I found everything in Go/Computer/Library/Audio/Plugins.... and there were all my VSTs. The weird thing is I don't recall it being an issue before; I didn't have to go thru Computer and click on the Macintosh harddrive icon to get to Library in the past. Yet, all my other plugins are loaded and working in Reason.

Anyway, I see the Span.vst3 file with all my other VSTs but Reason just doesn't find it. I even re-enabled all plugins, quit Reason, restarted and waited for it to scan all plugins but still, nothing so I give up unless someone knows what to do.

Anyway, if it's too much trouble, I'd just like to know if Reason has a way to check and fix phase issues. Thanx.
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Post 21 May 2023

Kind of yes.

Just for some clarity;
An instrument can have its Left and Right channel have some of its signal be out of phase. This is also what provides width to an instrument and is desirable in some instances.

This width can be perceived visually simply by using Mclass Stereo Imager. There are other VST and REs which provide a more detailed representation of the stereo image.

Instruments can be out of phase with each other. While not a problem in the mid to upper range, in EDM music, where the relationship between the kick and bass is 90% of the song, this phase relationship is important.

Use scope such as Psycope which allow you to view two signals at the same time and inspect the phase relationship.
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Post 21 May 2023

I don't really know or bother with phase. If it sounds good, it is good 🤷‍♂️ if it doesn't sound good, flip the phase and see if that helps. Check in mono, if it sounds good, it is good. If something changes radically when checking in mono, investigate further, i guess? I seldom ever need to take any steps to fix phase related issues. Can't even remember the last time i had to. Maybe i never have 🤔
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Post 21 May 2023

Almost all sounds are out of phase with each other, unless you’re talking about phase locked oscillators. It’s what makes music sound full and interesting!

You MAY be asking about doing a polarity check which is a different thing than phase (phase can be between 0 and 180° out at different frequencies, polarity is either in or out at all frequencies), which can be done with the polarity invert button at the top of every SSL channel. But phase is a different thing than polarity and is ever changing unless things are locked like with live microphones on a drum kit or using two samples with no pitch change.
For example, if you have two oscillators slightly detuned (worlds simplest super saw!) they are constantly going in and out of phase - it’s why we like that sound! If they were perfectly in phase there would be zero movement and interest, but they cannot both be detuned AND in phase. But if you have two kick samples playing exactly the same pitch each time and hitting exactly the same beat each time, you CAN have an issue that COULD be partially addressed by flipping polarity.

For your first question, a single instrument cannot be out of phase because phase is relative - it has to be in or out of phase with something ELSE. Two instruments can be in/out of phase with each other at a certain pitch but again only if they are perfectly tuned (could be tuned in octaves too, fwiw) and perfectly timed.

You could also be talking about overall phase of a stereo mix, which is typically only a problem if you are adding widening effects that affect phase. This could affect mono compatibility and at this level it is more often addressed by adjusting the effect that is causing the issue.

You could alternatively be talking about microphone polarity on a drum kit - some mics can be wired opposite of others, or you could be micing an instrument from above/below with two mics (again, it takes two to reveal the issue) and forget you must invert the polarity of one of the microphones.

But no, a single instrument cannot be “out of phase” with itself. And even with two instruments/sources, this will only be solvable if it is consistent - exactly the same for every note. If the timing or pitch (or even level) changes as it often does on a bass line, polarity or phase cannot fix the problem. IN fact, flipping the polarity of one track can fix one problem and cause others, so it’s hardly a useful solution (from experience).

In mastering, especially for vinyl, it’s common to use a goniometer/correlation meter to check mixes for various issues, but when mixing a simple mono check will reveal these issues even quicker IMO!

But tell us more, what exactly are you wanting to address here?
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Post 21 May 2023

selig wrote:
21 May 2023
Almost all sounds are out of phase with each other, unless you’re talking about phase locked oscillators. It’s what makes music sound full and interesting!

You MAY be asking about (...)
Thank you for this beautiful, concise, technical but understandable answer, Selig! I learned a lot about things I thought I already knew! Thank you!

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Post 21 May 2023

The lesson is to not worry about stuff unless it's obviously causing a problem. The 'net is full of people filling your head with stuff that usually does not matter.

Mix it in stereo, check it in mono and if it sounds good then it is good.

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Post 23 May 2023

A spectrum analyzer is my way to go for this. In Renoise, i've used the builtin one, in Reason i use VISION4X lately and i love it. With it you can visually see, where your bass will lost the power.
For stereo analyzing, i use MetricAB (aslso use it for AB comparing):
I'm sure there are several other plugin out there, which have similar features like these ones.
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