How does phase cancellation work? With example!

How does phase cancellation work? With example!

Written by: Dexxter Clark
If you stack two identical frequencies on top of each other they will other amplify or cancel each other out (depending on the direction of the wave form, up or down).
When the waveforms are in synch they will amplify 6db.
When the waveforms not in synch they will cancel each other out, this is a phenomenon called: phase cancellation.

Phase cancellation is used by noise cancelling headphones, but also equalizers (EQ) in your daw (Ableton, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, Studio One etc).
Especially the lower frequencies a very vulnerable for phase cancellation.
That`s why we use techniques as ducking (also called sidechaining) to prevent the bass from interfering with the kick.
Mixes sound often "muddy" when a lot of phase cancellation is happening, too much is going on and too much frequencies clash.

Stereo widening plugins often use phase shifting by delaying one speaker a tiny fraction from the other, or use phase inversion.
The problem with that is, if you collapse the signal into mono, you have a big chance of phase cancellation happening and you hear nothing (in stead of the mono signal).
Some plugins allow you to invert the phase, this can help in some cases, but not all.

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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music production

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