Recording - May 2018 - 50

PIL

polarity switches on them, but many don't; if yours doesn't
(and doesn't offer the option in a software control panel), see
the sidebar for a simple polarity flipper you can build that
goes between your mic cable and interface, and flips the
signal as neatly as a trapeze artist.
As you know if you've read other articles I've written, I'm a
big fan of simple stereo miking techniques like XY and ORTF. A
quick refresher: an XY array (Fig. 1) stacks the mics' capsules
atop one another, with the mics angled inward. It's good for
recording backing vocalists in a very real- and full-sounding
manner, or for adding extra dimension to a guitar speaker.
An ORTF array (Fig. 2) separates the mic capsules by 7",
and splays the mics outwards. It's great for recording small
classical ensembles or choirs, but it really comes into its own
when the array is used for drum overheads.
These arrays share some features. In both, the left-pointing
mic goes into the left channel, and the right-pointing mic goes

D
IO

HT GN
E
F

FIGURE

1

FIGURE

2

FIGURE

3

New uses for that
little Ø button...
BY PAUL J. STAMLER
This article presents a couple of new uses for an old
technique, flipping the polarity of a microphone's signal. (Not
the "phase"; that refers to different arrival times, and the havoc
they can wreak-see "Outwitting the Phase Monster" in our
November and December 2014 issues).
Flipping the polarity means turning the electrical wave that
represents a sound upside down with a switch, an adapter or
maybe a DAW. You may be used to this already, if you put a
mic on the bottom of a snare drum and need to get its output
to line up with the top snare mic's signal without creating
comb filtering problems. Ditto for a front-of-kick mic and a
beater mic, etc.
I'd like to look at a couple of other techniques that involve
signal-flipping. One is fairly prosaic-using a flip to balance
out the mics in single-point miking techniques like XY and
ORTF. The other, the noise-cancelling mic array, is frankly out
there and experimental. I say that because-I'll say this at the
beginning-it doesn't always work, and it's hard to know in
advance whether it will. But when it does work, the results can
be near-magical.
Before I begin, let's talk about ways and means. The old-school
way to flip polarity was with a button on the studio's console
or mic preamp, sometimes mislabeled "phase" (or Ø, which
meant the same thing. As I explained, it's not phase but polarity.)
Well and good, but most of us these days don't have big
hardware consoles in our studios.
Instead, we record using interfaces which typically combine
mic preamps and digital converters. Some interfaces have
50

RECORDING May 2018



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2018

Contents
Recording - May 2018 - Intro
Recording - May 2018 - Cover1
Recording - May 2018 - Cover2
Recording - May 2018 - 1
Recording - May 2018 - 2
Recording - May 2018 - 3
Recording - May 2018 - 4
Recording - May 2018 - 5
Recording - May 2018 - Contents
Recording - May 2018 - 7
Recording - May 2018 - 8
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Recording - May 2018 - Cover3
Recording - May 2018 - Cover4
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