Phase issues are by far the trickiest issue in audio recordings these days. It’s a hard thing to avoid and to spot on, even if you’re mixing with high-end equipment. That’s why we made a roundup of the best phase alignment plugins in 2021 to help you get cleaner and better-sounding mixes.
First things first, we need to understand what sound is and how does it work. Sound is the result of the vibration of molecules that exist in the air, which is captured by our eardrums and decoded in our brains. When you talk about phase, you mean the sound waves’ position in time. Sometimes, it’s possible to find multiple sound sources at once. When all sources reproduce the same sound at different times, our signal aligns in a different phase on a specific period, creating the so-called phase cancellation because of the delay in time during playback.
This is most common during multi-microphone recordings because of time variations between the source and its sound waves being captured by each microphone. The other thing that can cause phase cancellation is polarity. Microphones were made to work very similarly to our ears. They also capture the vibrations in the air through something called a transducer. This transducer reacts to vibrations, and it’s pushed and pulled as the molecules moving in the air.
This pushing and pulling is polarity. When the polarity is inverted, the air’s being pushed and pulled simultaneously, which means that two opposite phases counter-position against each other, creating a phase cancellation. Now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about seven plugins that will help you fix any phase-related problem you might find on your mixes.
Top 7 Phase Alignment Plugins 2021
1. FLUX Evo In Review
Is simple, precise, and a huge time-saver.
Flux’s Evo In is a phase alignment developed for both studio and live use. With this product is possible to quickly align phase on multi-microphone or live recordings where several microphones were simultaneously in use. To use the Evo In plugin, you’d only need to load it as an input and enable phase on the recorded tracks, assign a group number, and correct phase in just a matter of seconds.
- Drive function:
Evo In comes with this particular yet fantastic feature, which allows you to maintain roundness and warmth without any audible distortion whatsoever. What makes this feature so interesting is how it works. It doesn’t add any audible distortion but generates harmonics that help maintain the overall sound’s consistency that might get lost during phase correction.
- Phase group:
Sometimes, what you get is a bunch of multi-microphone recordings, such as drums, bass amps, guitar amps, altogether within your multitrack session, and phase check might become tedious. With their release, Flux tried to solve for audio professionals and brought this incredible feature handing you control over its eight different groups. You must only insert the plugin to each recorded track and enable phase, assign a group number, and now you can simply switch phase on and off for the whole group.
- The phase rotation wheel:
Perhaps the most relevant feature of Evo In is the phase and polarity rotation wheel that Flux introduced to us instead of the classic electrical polarity inverter switch ( ∅ ). This feature enables an exact, arbitrary, and linear-phase rotation that works the same way as physically moving the microphone while recording but without adding latency. It’s also very comfortable to use, as you only need to spin the wheel and look for the sweet spot.
Supports Windows 7 SP1 and higher, supports macOS 10.11 or higher, runs on 64 bit only, and comes in VST2, AU, and AAX formats.
Flux’s Evo In plugin is undoubtedly a great and practical tool for both live and studio recording to keep phase-aligned at all times. Its design makes it easy in the eye, and you can even switch its display from Light mode to Dark mode, the last one created to provide an option for situations such as live performances, where discretion can be most important. The combination of precision, tone balance, and aesthetics are the three things that make this plugin a unique tool to have in your arsenal.
2. MeldaProduction MAutoAlign Review
Don’t worry about phase cancellation. Just let MAutoAlign do its thing.
Melda Production got us a fully automatic phase alignment plugin with a crazy algorithm that analyses and corrects your tracks and provides instant improved results. It’s programmed to analyze and correct phase within seconds and even estimate the ideal rotation of each channel to minimize cancellation.
- Customizable GUI:
Melda Production cares a great deal about user experience, which is why they’ve developed a user interface that goes out of this world for you to be as comfortable as you like with this plugin. You can entirely customize and shape the UI to taste, change colors and styles, and resize it while still maintaining CPU-friendly.
- Multi-channel processing:
MAutoAlign can handle mono, stereo, mid/side encoding, and up to 8 surround audio channels at once, which is a fascinating trait. It could be used for many different scenarios, like music, films, video games, and VR.
- Safety limiter:
This plugin has an automatic gain compensation to prevent ear damage, allowing a much clearer A-B comparison and keep you from misjudging whether it sounds better or louder. This includes the so-called safety limiter, an incorporated brick-wall limiter that makes sure everything stays under 0dB.
In addition to its incredibly malleable GUI, MAutoAlign is ridiculously easy to use and fast as no other, as it automatically finds the sample delay of your tracks and aligns them to perfection within seconds. You only need to load MAutoAlign and hit on the analyze button during playback. It will explore all related tracks and mix them together.
Supports Windows 7 SP1 and higher, supports macOS 10.9 or higher, runs on 32 and 64 bit on Windows and 64bit only on macOS, and comes in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
MAutoAlign is an excellent time-saving tool that automatically corrects any possible phase cancellation in just a matter of seconds. It is as simple as clicking one button and let run, preventing you from taking too long focusing on correcting and dedicate more time working on what needs to be done. This outstanding tool can also be used in various contexts, making MAutoAlign a great plugin to have and regularly use, regardless of what you’re doing.
3. Sound Radix Auto-Align Review
Auto-Align is an automatic phase alignment plugin with a spectral phase correlation meter.
Sound Radix developed an automatic phase correlation alignment plugin called Auto Align. It’s created to correct phase cancellation and measure and paint an accurate picture of the frequencies being canceled across the spectrum and make up for it. This plugin attempts to detect automatically, and correct if needed, any possible phase cancellation that might be hiding on your mixing session.
Just as soon as you open the plugin, you know what you’ve got, and you can quickly get straight to business. To set things up, you only need to define your reference and click on send. After establishing your reference point, go to the different mics and insert Auto-Align on each, marking them as receivers. Then click on detect and let it do its thing.
- Phase RTA display:
Auto-Align features a spectral phase correlation meter that shows the correlation between input and reference mics on the spectrum. This is a terrific tool to spot possible phase cancellations on mixes visually, so if you’re a mastering engineer, this will become handy when checking for phase issues on any given day. Auto-Align can also detect reversed polarity mics and compensate for it automatically.
Sometimes you need to make manual adjustments because automatic tools don’t solve your problem the way you need it to be solved. An excellent characteristic of this plugin is that it accurately measures and displays distance in samples, milliseconds, inches, or centimeters and allows you to set things up manually. This feature saves the day if you’re on a live event and you’re checking the phase of your drums and amps, but you can’t take too long.
Supports Windows 7 SP1 or higher, supports macOS 10.7 or higher, runs on 64 bit only, and comes in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re live, recording, or mixing. This is a great addition to your toolbox that you can adapt to an immense variety of situations and get a quick fix on the phase correlation of your tracks. It has the most uncomplicated and easy-going user interface. Its spectral display, accuracy, and efficiency aren’t but some of Auto Align’s best features compared to its competition.
4. MAAT Digital RSPhaseShifter Review
The ultimate combination of digital and analog.
MAAT Digital’s RSP Phase Shifter emulates the Phase Shifter W2324, an analog phase rotator hardware, but enhanced by today’s digital possibilities. It takes the excellent precision and functionality from the analog gear, but takes it to a different level, as it’s fully transparent, offers double-precision internal processing, and allows up to 360° phase rotation, zero delay, and a delta function. Let’s go into more detail on our key features section.
- Delta mode:
One of the most remarkable and unique assets that the RSPhase shifter offers is its delta mode. This enables RSPhase to be even more adaptable to our workflows by bringing the option of using it as an FX plugin. This Delta mode allows users to modify stereo spread into a Mid/Sides workflow. To do this, you should first insert an MS encoder, followed by an RSPhaseShifter, and finally an MS decoder at the bottom of the chain. This feature allows you to alter the phase of both Mid/Mono and Side/Difference signals and make finding the best settings a lot faster.
- Simple user interface:
It looks as good as it works, as it allows no time to be wasted when going into the plugin. Its analog looks make it interactive to work with and comfortable to use, besides being intuitive. RSPhase Shifter has the same controls as its analog pair but adds its unique touch, such as the 360° phase correction, zero latency, and linear-phase response, which retains full transparency after use.
Supports Windows 7 SP1 or higher, Supports macOS 10.9 or higher, runs on 32 and 64bit Windows and 64bit only on macOS, and comes in VST, AU and AAX formats.
RSPhase Shifter offers you complete transparency, reliability, and a wide range for phase correction. Although it is not automatic, it allows you to correct phase errors, improving the low-end definition and increasing the depth feeling in your mixes without damaging your mono compatibility.
5. Voxengo PHA-979 Review
Do you like things to be simple, fast, and efficient? Voxengo’s PHA 979 is here to help out.
Voxengo PHA979 is a linear-phase alignment plugin that enables you to arbitrarily shift phase on any audio source. Besides phase shifting, this release also features positive and negative time delaying, mid/side channel balance and panning controls, a multi-band correlation meter, and headphone monitoring. These traits make this plugin one to keep in mind and have around on anyone’s toolkit.
- Easy to use:
PHA-979 keeps everything at hand, with an easy-on-the-eye UI design that takes no time to figure out how it works. It is highly optimized for any kind of workflow. Each tool facilitates the process and hands you everything you need to apply phase correction and time alignment with no problem quickly.
- Output parameters:
PHA-979 gives you three monitoring options to make things simpler: Force mono, L/R swap, and mono mix. The Force Mono feature is excellent when aligning kick and bass because it takes away stereo controls and affects Mono information exclusively. This feature is similar to the Mono Mix option. Still, the difference is that Mono Mix collapses all multi-channel information and emphasizes phasing so that it’s noticeable when you have phase issues.
- Meters and calculators:
The plugin includes a meter that analyses your phase correlation across the spectrum in real-time, allowing you to visualize possible problems and where to find them. PHA-979 also brings you a delay time calculator that can measure the delay time between two signals, which comes in handy, preventing time alignment from being too time-consuming.
Supports Windows XP and higher, Supports macOS 10.11 or higher, runs on 32 and 64 bit, and comes in VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Voxengo PHA-979 is a versatile tool that’s not only limited to phase and time alignment, but you can also use it for stereo image enhancement, spreading and correction. It’s a very complete tool that doesn’t demand a crazy amount of CPU processing and delivers a top-notch sound quality. I’d suggest you to use it to align bass and kick, as it tights up your low-end and rounds it up quite nicely.
6. Waves InPhase Review
Waves Audio’s solution to phase correction.
InPhase by Waves is a powerful tool for phase correlation and manipulation for both live and studio scenarios. It features a full and a lite version, primarily taking away the waveform display and monitor sections on the lighter “LT” version. Both operating versions have a twenty-millisecond latency.
- Alpha and Beta channels:
The plugin operates with two primary channels labeled Alpha and Beta, providing users with two different stereo processing workflows. On the one hand, you can select the Alpha channel to 1 and automatically feed the right side audios to the beta channel as your reference. You can also operate in stereo side/chain mode, which puts both, left side and right side audios on your alpha channel, and lets you assign the Beta channel to an external reference.
- Single-band correction:
You can correct phase on specific frequency bands individually without affecting the rest of the spectrum. To do this, you only need to sweep and set your frequency range. Each channel has two different filters per section.
Supports Windows 10, Supports macOS 10.13.6 or higher, runs on 64 bit, and comes in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
InPhase by Waves Audio is a magnificent tool that can be very effective in correcting phase to the last detail. It’s possible to quickly adapt to any situation and be highly precise when you need to get surgical. This tool would be beneficial if you’re a mix engineer and you receive a stereo low synth track on your session and want to make sure that’s all good before mixing so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong with you’re low-end to realize it was that synth phasing all along.
7. soundradix PI Review
PI is a multi-channel phase interaction mixer designed to enhance any mix.
PI, which stands for Phase Interaction, promises to minimize overlapping frequency cancellations between instruments within the mix, improve mono compatibility and get back the depth and definition that often gets lost when phase issues occur.
- Dynamic phase rotation:
One crazy yet incredibly helpful feature that Sound Radix brought us with PI is dynamic phase rotation. It works like a multi-band compressor, but with phase, so it constantly analyzes each track’s phase correlation and dynamically adjusts it to maintain an optimal correlation at all times.
- Multi-track awareness:
Adding up to PI’s unique features, it’s designed to be multi-track aware by using a unique central background processor to analyze and process each track’s phase position accurately. I strongly suggest looking at how this feature works on your drum bus and seeing how it glues everything together.
- Global operation modes:
As if it wasn’t enough, there’s, even more, to add to this great plugin. It enables the possibility to use 64 groups to bind all of your mix’s tracks to optimize their phase relationships between each other. You can optimize either the full range or focus on the low-frequency range of your mix.
Supports Windows 7 or higher, supports macOS 10.6 or higher, runs on 64 bit, and comes in VST, VST3, RTAS, AU, and AAX formats.
PI by sound radix is an impressive tool that enhances mixes with phase interaction, giving users the possibility to achieve the best possible correlation within the mix, improving the overall quality on a whole different level.
1. Eventide Precision Time Align Review
It’s literally what the name says it is
Eventide’s Precision Time Align is a sub-sample delay that allows you to move any trackback or forward in time. This plugin’s a true friend to mix engineers and producers who often work with several layers on top of each other.
- As easy as it gets:
Precision Time Align’s UI allows no doubt on how it works and what you have. As soon as you open the plugin, it shows you right off the bat all the parameters at your disposal on a self-explaining, nice-looking graphic interface.
As its name stands for, it was built to be an exact tool that fulfills all user needs, especially for surgical purposes. It allows you to synchronize signals up to 1/64th of a sample and perform both positive and negative delays. You can also calibrate the signal to inches, centimeters, samples, and milliseconds.
Supports Windows 8 or higher, supports macOS 10.9 or higher, runs on 32 and 64 bit Windows and 64bit only on macOS, and comes in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX formats.
Eventide’s Precision Time Align is a very straightforward tool perfect for surgical use in any situation where precise correction is necessary. It allows users to fix time alignment and correlation between several tracks rapidly and is ideal for stereo inputs presenting phase cancellation problems.
2. Forward Audio faSampleDelay Review (FREE)
Fa Sampledelay, an option to get results while staying within budget.
Forward Audio’s fa SampleDelay is a free plugin that enables users to fix time alignment phase issues accurately without breaking the bank. This simple, effective tool can adapt from a simple delay compensator to more advanced surgical correction.
SampleDelay counts with a simple User Interface that’s exceptionally comfortable to look at and to work on. It keeps everything reachable and optimizes the time it takes to land on the proper settings. It’s also possible to scale and adapt its GUI, going from a 4k screen to a tablet and everything in between.
You can calibrate Sample Delay to four different units: sample, meters, feet, and milliseconds. Its also possible to link the sample rate to your time delay and provides a sample-accurate time delay, offering up to 100.000 samples every two seconds at a 48khz sample rate.
Supports Windows Vista or higher, supports macOS 10.11 or higher, runs on 32 and 64 bit Windows and 64bit only on macOS, and comes in VST2, VST3, AU and AAX formats.
Forward Audio’s fa Sample Delay makes it easier to get tighter mixes when staying on a budget, and it’s a fantastic tool to have around to solve this type of problem. It’s self-explaining, easy to use, and convenient all packed up on a CPU-friendly easy-going GUI.
How Do I Know If I Have Phase Issues?
If two related tracks sound thinner, harsher, or shallow when combined, then it’s most likely they suffer from phase issues. You can be 100% certain if you insert a utility plugin on the channel and check if the flip phase button makes any difference. If low energy and punch suddenly appear, then you have phase issues.
How Do I Align phase correctly?
To align your phase correctly, you can’t go wrong with turning on delay compensation, manually setting up a micro-delay plugin, or you can always use an automatic phase alignment plugin.
When you turn on delay compensation you make sure that there isn’t any undesired or latency that’s messing up with your phase alignment. Meanwhile, a micro-delay plugin will help you aligning phase surgically by adding positive or negative delay effectively when needed, either manually or automatically, depending on your choose.
In this article, we’ve learned about phase and how to fix phase-related problems while going through different tools that we can try out and adapt to our workflows to find the one that suits us better. Regardless of how complicated it looks, this is one of the most manageable issues to find solutions for. Each of these tools presented on our list have several qualities that will help you get there faster and optimize your overall results.
That being said, it’s essential to highlight the importance of using the tool that best adapts to you and not otherwise, so you should know that automatic tools are often the least time-consuming and deliver incredible results. Yet, they can easily mess everything up if you rely too much on them and don’t usually work for particular situations, as they’re meant to solve more general issues. On the other hand, manual tools are far more precise and accurate, and they’re great for fixing lousy drum recordings and performing surgical adjustments to stereo tracks. Still, you must take your time to get to the right setting, and that can be really hard to achieve if you’re not quite sure of what you’re doing.
I have a B.Sc. Degree in Audio Engineering and +5 years of work experience. I specialize in Audio Post-Producing and Sound Design to help brands and online businesses stick out delivering top-notch audio quality for advertisement, podcast, films, and music.