7 Best Phase Alignment Plugins For Perfect Phase 2024

7 Best Phase Alignment Plugins For Perfect Phase | integraudio.com

This article will discuss the best phase alignment plugins by which you can fix the alignment of your recorded instruments, vocals, drums, and overall arrangements. 

Phase issues are usually hard to identify but create many problems in the mix. They can occur between the left and right channels, between different audio tracks and microphone placements, by time dis-alignment of different tracks, etc.

My recordings sometimes suffer from timing errors when multiple inputs or microphones are in recording instruments. Despite my efforts to position mics accurately, factors like preference, physics, and practical limitations can disrupt this.

When mixed together, these timing variations result in comb filtering that produces some cancellation of frequency and leads to bad mixes or a muddy mix.

However, when addressed and fixed properly, you will be surprised by how much difference it makes. Phase alignment can be the difference between clean/tight and muddy-sounding drums and mixes.

Aligning the phase ensures that the frequencies from different audio sources reinforce each other instead of canceling out. This results in a clearer, more defined sound with better tonal balance. Properly aligned phase relationships contribute to a more precise stereo image. Instruments and vocals appear more focused and centered within the stereo field, creating a more immersive listening experience.

Phase issues in the low end can also severely impact the bass frequencies. You can fix phase issues by manually matching waveforms, flipping or inverting phase in the audio, adding sample delay, or using specialized phase alignment plugins.

How do I know if My Drums are out of Phase?

Some indications of out-of-phase drums are thin or weak sound, loss of low-end, uneven or hollow sound, weird artifacts or flanges, and audible changes during the mix.

If your drum tracks sound very thin or unpunchy, it could indicate that this might be caused by phase cancellation. At times, some drum kit components may become out of phase, and they can lose some of that fullness or impact.

I often find that phase issues can be very dangerous, making some low-end frequencies weak or not as well-defined. Check out the kick drum and low toms for depth or power. Next, frequencies canceling out each other due to phase misalignment can lead to a hollow or less fuller sound and result in flanging or flaming of drums.

Now, let’s look at the list of plugins that we can use to fix these issues and ensure perfect phase alignment.

7 Best Phase Alignment Plugins For Perfect Phase 2024

Check InPhase here

Waves Audio InPhase

Waves InPhase is a phase correction plugin designed to align and correct audio recording issues.

I appreciate that the plugin features dual all-pass filters for adjusting phase response in various frequencies, thus enabling accurate timing adjustment between tracks such as snare versus overheads or various microphone sources. Next, InPhase presents an easy-to-read graph for synchronized waveform superposition and regain of phase cohesion.

The plugin works well for me when re-aligning the tracks, fixing phase errors, and improving the overall cohesion of multi-microphone recordings.

Features & Benefits:

The plugin functions using two main channels, alpha and beta, allowing separate stereo processing methods. Directing the right-side audio to Beta with the Alpha channel = 1 as your reference. The alternative uses side chain mode, placing the left and right audio in the Alpha channel and the Beta on the external reference track.

InPhase does Frequency-Specific Phase Adjustment. I love this feature because of its all-pass filter, as it does phase correction in specific frequency zones without spoiling its whole band. You can sweep and select the range of frequencies you require. The channels contain different filters with two filter sections, resulting in greater flexibility in adjusting various parts of each specific frequency band with the preservation of whole sound integrity.

To select the frequency, you get a high shelf and a bell filter as options for the curve types. You can select the upper and lower limits of the frequency range and adjust the Q value.

Another great feature is the correlation meter in InPhase for monitoring how in-phase both the channels are. The closer to 1 the value is, the more in-phase the tracks are. Negative value in correlation meter means a negative phase relationship, and zero also signifies out of phase.

InPhase’s waveform viewer is very flexible and user-friendly. You can zoom it in and out both vertically and horizontally. It also allows you to place a marker at a point and zoom deep into it. Talking about the interface, the plugin can also be collapsed into a smaller size.

The plugin offers monitoring flexibility and allows you to solo and monitor the alpha and beta channels separately, as well as the mono and stereo mixes.

Compatibility:

Waves InPhase is compatible with macOS Catalina 10.15, Big Sur 11, Monterey 12, Ventura 13, Sonoma 14, and Windows 10/11 and is available in AAX, VST, VST3, and AU formats.

For more information, check out the Waves InPhase manual.

Check X-Phase here

SSL X-Phase

X-phase is a flexible Allpass Filter plug‐in that allows manual adjustment. 

It enables precise phase adjustments at specific frequencies within audio signals without altering their gain, which helps me to resolve the phase issues during multi-mic recordings. Imagine speakers with bass and high-frequency drivers.

Their sound combines but creates comb filtering due to slight differences in position. So, I use this plugin to adjust phase differences between these drivers and help them blend better. Just like that, my recordings with multiple microphones, like snare top and bottom mics, do not suffer from similar issues.

Polarity switches or delays don’t fix the timing problem across all frequencies. X-Phase uses all-pass filters, adjusting phase responses at particular frequencies for coherent blending. This improves the natural tone and reduces signal issues like comb filtering.

In simple words, instead of moving the entire waveform by a few samples or milliseconds, it allows me to select a frequency for which I want to change the audio’s phase. For example, when I hear some issues in the low-mids, I can select a frequency of about 350 Hz and shift the phase of the frequency in the sound instead of the entire frequency range of the sound.

Features & Benefits:

You get the frequency and Q controls for changing the filter position and shape. You also get a phase-inversion switch. You can monitor at which values your audio sounds the best and set the curve accordingly.

The plugin allows you to tweak the left and right channels together by linking them, or you can also treat them separately. You can also turn off the “ALL PASS” switch!

You can change the phase by using a simple knob, which can be tweaked in 1 step or 10 steps at a time, in milliseconds, samples, FEET, and other units. You can change the units by using its Unit switch.

Compatibility:

X-Phase is available in VST, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin formats and is compatible with macOS 11 Big Sur – macOS 13 Ventura (M1 Mac supported) and Windows 10 – Windows 11 operating systems. You require a minimum of 4 GB of RAM to run the plugin. However, 8 GB is recommended!

You can access the SSL X-Phase Manual or User Guide here for more information.

Check Evo In here

EVO 1 by FLUX is an easy-to-use single-knob phase alignment plugin. 

It applies linear phase rotation to your audio, between -180 and 180 degrees, across the spectrum. It also allows you to flip the phase of the audio by using just a single switch. I recommend this one to beginner producers as it is much easier to work with than plugins with manual adjustment.

Features & Benefits:

The plugin allows you to switch between light and dark modes, depending on the vibe and mood you are going for.

When I tested the plugin, I found the DRIVE slider to be a great addition. It helped me to add distortion and more excitement to the audio. It is a subtle kind of saturation that seeks to create a round and warm sound image. It aims to add necessary harmonic content to keep it stable without distorting the original sound’s vigor.

Also, I enjoy that Evo In allows you to enable groups as well. In total, there are eight groups.  Turning the phase switch on and off at any point for that group immediately changes every member’s status. This can be achieved by assigning the instance to a particular group number. The above makes it possible to have phase settings uniform for all the instances in a single group.

Compatibility:

EVO In is available in AU/VST2&3/AAX Native only/VS3 plugin formats and is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.

For more information on FLUX EVO IN, you can access its manual here.

Check Auto Align 2 here

Sound Radix Auto Align 2

Auto Align 2 is a simple and easy-to-use phase alignment plugin that lets you fix phase issues in just a few clicks.

All you have to do is drop the tracks you want to fix the phase for in the plugin. Then, simply press “Align” and let Auto Align do its job. The Initial Alignment Pass begins then. The plugin analyzes everything and makes Groups of tracks with common sonic features. I love the simple workflow and I think it is a great one for quick tasks and beginners.

All the tracks with several mics or from a single room are grouped. The phase and time of these tracks are synchronized to keep sound characteristics unchanged. For my workflow, this is a great system as it saves so much time.

So, for example, let’s say I drop all my drum tracks in the plugin. Auto Align 2 asks me to set one reference track, according to which all other tracks will be aligned. That is called the “Key Time Track.” Based on that, it will time-align the other tracks and display each track’s time or nudge value, in milliseconds, by which they are shifted.

Features & Benefits:

The plugin features Absolute and Spectral Phase Optimization algorithms. Using these, it automatically detects the phase issues and fixes them with just one click.

Another great feature for me is the Spectral Phase optimization, which detects and rectifies frequency-dependent phase shifts that often distort the sound, ensuring precise alignment. It tackles phase shifts within specific frequency ranges, enhancing coherence and richness in your audio.

Absolute Phase optimization, on the other hand, focuses on sound directionality. Simply put, it takes an in-depth approach to phase-align things and does not just shift the waveforms.

With this plugin, I never have to do any guesswork and get faster results. Moreover, the workflow is quite simple, even if what’s happening under the hood may be complicated.

Compatibility:

Auto Align 2 is available in AAX, Audio Unit, VST3, and ARA2 formats and is compatible with Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher operating systems. You will also require an iLok account, a minimum of 8 GB RAM, and a 64-bit Intel CPU or Apple silicon chip or 64-bit Intel or AMD CPU to run this plugin.

Check out the plugin manual here for more information on Auto Align 2 by Sound Radix.

Check IBP here

The Little Labs IBP Phase Alignment Tool adeptly addresses the challenges of out-of-phase audio signals.

I love this simple interface consisting of two knobs and six buttons as it features a minimal approach towards phase correction. It authenticates the analog behavior of the hardware and provides accurate modifications in the phases without sacrificing the audio. It’s not merely a corrective tool; it’s a creative asset, enabling deliberate phase alterations for unique tonal colors in recordings.

Features & Benefits:

What I enjoy about this plugin the most is its unique Universal Audio “workstation” version. It comes with the “Delay Adjust” control, enabling a continuous delay of the input signal between 0.0 to 4.0 milliseconds. It functions digitally, uniformly shifting all frequencies, akin to moving an audio region forward in the timeline.

The primary control in the plugin is Phase Adjust, which offers a continuous phase shift of either 90° or 180° based on the selected mode (90°/180° switch). Utilizing analog all-pass filters, this control operates in the analog domain, affecting the signal phase in a frequency-dependent manner, faithfully replicating the hardware’s behavior.

You can also Phase-invert your audio. This function is akin to a phase button on a mixing console, inverting the input signal’s polarity upon engagement.

The plugin’s Phase Center Lo/Hi control sets the frequency emphasis range, enabling adjustments between Hi and Lo frequency ranges.

The Power button in Little Labs IBP enables/disables the plugin, activating when engaged (darker) with the green LED illuminated.

Compatibility:

This plugin is compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina, 11 Big Sur, 12 Monterey, and 13 Ventura and Windows 10/11 operating systems and VST3, Audio Units, AAX 64, and LUNA host applications.

For more information on Little Labs IBP by UAD, check out its manual here.

Check MAutoAlign here

MAutoAlign automatically discovers optimal delays and polarity adjustments for optimal phase alignment.

Beyond delay and polarity, it corrects phase discrepancies across frequencies in all tracks, minimizing cancellations by using its spectral phase compensation. It works for me very well as it compensates for 3D instrument nuances, mic differences, recording gear variations, and pre-MAutoAlign processing.

Features & Benefits:

The plugin consists of a Channel Mode button that showcases the current processing mode. Left (L) and Right (R) modes process only one channel, which is useful for fixing spectral inconsistencies or creating stereo expansion by equalizing sides differently. Mid (M) mode operates on the mono signal, separating it from the stereo part and allowing minimal CPU usage. Mid+Side (M+S) processes both channels simultaneously, often similar to L+R mode but with exceptions like reverb depth adjustments.

Other subsidiary and surround modes enable specific channel processing and support for up to 8 or 64 channels for Ambisonics setups in cinema and VR applications.

MAutoAlign also consists of Group Functionality that I often use for synchronization among multiple tracks in the same group, analyzing them together.

Next, the Latency Control reports latency for aligned tracks, compensating for time shifts caused by alignment, allowing the host to manage Plugin Delay Compensation (PDC). I like that its wide adjustable range of 0 ms to 100 ms.

Then there’s Manual Delay Adjustment that allows you to manually offset adjustments to fine-tune results, restricted to positive values from -1024 samples to 1024 samples. 

You can also control block size for spectral phase compensation by using Phasse Resolution, which impacts latency, CPU usage, and audio quality. 

The Maximum Delay setting in the plugin determines the maximum time difference that can be identified. Typically, microphone delays are under 10ms.

Compatibility:

MAutoALign is available for Windows 8/10/11 and macOS 10.14 Mojave and newer operating systems in VST, AAX, AU, and VST3 plugin formats.

For more information on MAutoAlign, check its manual here.

7. Nugen Audio Aligner

Check Audio Aligner here

Aligner is a smart and automatic phase and polarity alignment tool with a simple and easy-to-use interface.

I tested this plugin recording guitars on three different microphones: Left, Center, and Right. When I wanted to phase-align those guitar tracks, I used the Aligner plugin on all three channels and selected one of them, the center, as the reference track.  When I played the audio, Aligner showed the number of samples by which each audio track was delayed.

Next, after clicking on “Align,” the correction was made. For the occasions that the correction is not good or enough, the plugin also offers to tweak the number of samples or flip the polarity.

Features & Benefits:

The plugin allows you to assign tracks to different groups for a streamlined workflow. For example, you can create groups for drums, guitars, vocals, etc. You can also rename groups for clear identification and efficient group management. This organization feature is great for quicker workflow that I appreciate.

Aligner offers Automatic Alignment and Reference Selection. You can do precise phase alignment with the “Align” button while the audio plays, resolving phase issues efficiently. Select a master reference track for alignment among multiple tracks, ensuring accurate adjustments.

The plugin lets you do Polarity Inversion & sample delay adjustment, so you can easily invert track polarity post-alignment automatically or manually for fine-tuning. You can also adjust sample delay to modify track delay in samples, automatically or manually, enhancing precision and alignment adjustments.

For the convenience of workflow, the plugin allows you to quickly bypass polarity and delay parameters for individual tracks or entire groups by using the Bypass ALL button, providing flexibility in managing adjustments.

Compatibility:

The plugin is available in AAX, VST3, AU, and AudioSuite formats and requires a minimum of Mac OSX 10.9.x and Windows XP operating systems, with 512 MB RAM.

For more information on Audio Aligner by Nugen, check out its manual.

2 Best Free Phase Alignment Plugins

1. Variety Of Sound preFIX (Channel Strip With Phase Alignment)

Check preFIX here

Download here

preFIX is a multi-fx plugin consisting of EQ, Sidechain filtering, GATE, compressor, and a phase alignment section. 

I love this tool as it offers accurate phase corrections similar to analog methods, making it easy for me to change signals without disruption. It provides detailed options for trimming the phase response slope concerning phase reversal shift, bandwidth, and central frequency alteration, giving me quite a bit of adjustment options to play with.

preFIX further provides complex control features as well as six different routing modes for the six distinct output channels.

Features & Benefits:

The plugin allows to switch between Channel 1, Channel 2, and a combination of both. Also, it serves me well that for each channel, I can introduce a digital delay of up to 4 milliseconds.

preFIX lets you change phase transition by using a PHASE knob. You can also set the center of this phase transition to low or high frequencies by using the LO/HI switch.

Using this plugin, you can invert the polarity or set the width of phase alteration by 90 or 180 degrees.

Other than phase correction, the plugin has various features that come in handy for my workflow. It lets you alter your signal for good by increasing its stereo width, giving you EQ controls, assigning you gate and compressors, and other effects. 

Compatibility:

preFIX is available only in VST plugin format as a 32- and 64-bit depth plugin, making it compatible with only Windows systems.

2. Forward Audio faSampleDelay 

Check faSampleDelay here

faSampleDelay is a simple, efficient, and intuitive Sample Delay plugin. 

What I like about this plugin is its versatility, as you can apply it on various tracks, ranging from guitars, drums, vocals, etc. In my opinion, it is perfect for quick phase alignment and simpler phase correction tasks.

Features & Benefits:

faSampleDelay offers precise sample-accurate time delays, allowing up to 100,000 samples or roughly 2 seconds at 48 kHz.

I like its intuitive interface as it features a user-friendly knob, offering customizable delay spans with adjustable min/max values.

You can choose among various input units ranging from milliseconds, feet, meters, or samples for perfect adjustment to suit your preferences.

With this plugin, it is easy to perform an A/B comparison and keep the delay times linked to the sample rate so that you do not accidentally change the delay time in the middle of a multi-take session.

This tool has been optimized for efficient CPU utilization, ensuring uncompromised performance at the bare minimum load. Further, the scalable GUI provides you convenience irrespective of the screen size.

This plugin features broad sample rate compatibility, spanning from 44,100 Hz to 192,000 Hz, ensuring its application in various projects and increasing its versatility, which is another significant plus for me.

Compatibility:

faSampleDelay is available in 32- and 64-bit VST2, VST3, and AU plugin formats and is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.

Extra:

Synchro Arts – VocAlign Project 5 (For Vocals)

Check VocAlign here

VocAlign Project 5 is an industry-standard vocal phase alignment tool for syncing the timing of two or more vocal performances. 

This one is my go-to plug-in great for fixing the timing and phase issues between stacked vocals. I often use it for bands with multiple vocalists to fit the harmonies better with lead vocals, cleaning backing vocals, timing issues, and more.

It uses the Revoice Pro-Alignment Algorithm, SmartAlign Intelligent processing, and the Tightness control to fine-tune how much alignment is needed. The workflow is simple.

Simply “capture” your audio signals in VocAlign and turn on the “Smart Align” switch. You can also use the Match Timing switch and tweak the “Max difference” knob to have your vocals as “tight” or “loose.”  

Features & Benefits:

Tightness Control adjusts the degree of time-stretching during alignment, from loose to tight, offering to fine-tune the alignment between audio files in milliseconds.

The plugin comes with alignment presets that provide quick solutions for specific alignment needs that must be tailored for different instruments and genres. Presets like “slightly loose timings” or “tightest timings” offer starting points for alignment, which can be further tweaked.

I must highlight the great visual aid of the plugin that enhances the waveform displays to visualize the alignment between audio signals. It showcases reference and guide waveforms, aiding in visual comparison and fine-tuning through features like zooming and scaling.

Its resizable interface offers flexibility by allowing me to adjust its interface size, catering to different screen sizes and preferences for workspace organization.

Its interface is also highly organized and is divided into three main sections, displaying controls for Guide, Dub, and Output Capture/Render, along with three view windows and algorithm controls. It supports multi-channel signals and facilitates temporal alignment assessment.

Compatibility:

You require macOS 10.8 or higher or Windows 10/11 operating systems and a DAW that can host VST, AAX, and AU plugins to run this SyncroArts VocAlign.

Verdict

To round up, we have seen various types of plugins, but most of the phase alignment plugins are focused on fixing phase issues in multi-mic recordings. If you have just recorded drums or guitar or any instrument and are looking for a plugin to fix your phase issues quickly, I suggest you go for Auto Align 2 or MAuto Align, as these plugins have great automatic alignment algorithms and advanced features by which you can go into details and tweak your recordings.

If you have a huge stack of vocals and are looking to bind them together, VocAlign is the perfect tool for you! If you’re looking for a rather simple tool that would fix your phase issues without much hassle, I think you can consider Nugen Audio Aligner.

You can also go with the UAD Little Labs IBP for its analog characteristics and minimal approach. Lastly, Waves InPhase and SSL X-Phase are best for producing clean sound, as they use all-pass filters for phase alignment. I hope this article was of help. Thank you for reading!

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