Phase issues can make it impossible to get the clear, punchy sound you need in your mix.
They can arise whenever a source was recorded with multiple microphones.
Fixing the worst of these problems is necessary when the result affects your mix negatively.
But even if your sounds aren’t completely out of phase, improving the alignment between tracks can make a big difference.
So how can you change the phase relationships of the tracks in your session? Phase alignment plugins are one option.
In this article, I’ll break down the 7 best phase alignment plugins and suggest options for every budget.
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What are phase alignment plugins?
Phase alignment plugins are DAW tools you use to fix phase issues.
They usually work by changing the timing of a track relative to the others in small increments.
This type of plugin analyzes the material contained in each track and determines if destructive interference is occurring.
Then, either automatically or with user input, they calculate the timing shift required to correct it.
Phase alignment plugins sometimes include additional features to manipulate the frequency content to sound more in phase.
These plugins can help, but as usual, the best option for fixing problematic phase relationships is to eliminate them at the source.
But this is not always possible, especially if you prefer not to compromise on the placement of your mics.
Phase alignment plugins are your next line of defense when you’re facing this type of issue.
Sound Radix’s Auto Align is one of the original phase alignment solutions.
A secret weapon among engineers for its ability to align multi-mic’d drum tracks, Auto Align became a studio staple.
The second edition improves on nearly everything about the original, offering a comprehensive alignment process for an entire session’s worth of tracks with a single click.
Auto Align 2 is perfect for tightening and focusing the sound of any multi-mic recording.
Waves InPhase is a versatile and affordable phase alignment tool.
With quick and easy analysis tools and hands-on control of timing, inPhase can help you resolve phase issues fast.
It also includes handy polarity inversion and frequency filtering controls for additional flexibility.
Little Labs IBP is an all-analog phase adjustment tool. UAD has closely modeled the original hardware to bring the same functionality to your DAW.
If you’re looking for a simple way to adjust phase that works just like it does in the analog world, IBP should be on your list to try.
4. Your DAW’s Built-in Timing Tools
Phase alignment software can help, but you don’t need a dedicated plugin to manipulate timing in your DAW.
After all, sliding regions left and right on the timeline in small increments is enough to change their phase relationship.
Try setting your nudge value to a small number of samples and move them left or right to hear how they affect the phase when combined with correlated recorded material.
If they sound stronger when combined together, you’re on the right track!
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Melda MAutoalign is another automatic approach to phase alignment.
With the ability to manage multiple tracks and advanced features to dial in your results, it’s a fully featured option with good value for money.
On top of that, its spectral phase compensation mode claims to be able to align each frequency differently for ultimate coherence.
Eventide’s Precision Time Align gives you a simple and accurate time adjustment tool. It allows you to move your audio in extremely small increments—even less than a single sample!
Start with the coarse adjustment slider and the dial in with precision using the fine adjustment slider.
Use this plugin to adjust timing before forwards and backwards for the ideal blend between tracks.
SSL’s Native plugin suite now includes X-Phase, a unique frequency specific phase tool.
Based on unique all-pass filter design, X-Phase allows you to apply phase shift at specific frequencies to make sure sounds are aligned where they need it most.
In addition to metering, polarity and traditional time alignment tools, it’s got everything you to keep your sound in phase.
The alignment problem
Getting your sounds in phase can make a huge difference in your mix.
It means making sure each track compliments the others instead of fighting them.
But like just about every audio problem you’re likely to encounter, there’s a plugin that can help get you a better result.
Choose any of the plugins on this list for greater control over the phase relationships in your tracks.
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