Using Phase Cancellation in Sound Design

An advanced Samplecraze sound design tutorial on how to use flip/inversion, sample nudge and phase cancellation within your DAW to create new sounds.

Beat Construction


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I am a real fan of using phase cancellation in sound design.

The ability to phase cancel two waveforms and then to shift one against the other to achieve different sonic textures is a really powerful technique. But that’s just the start. You can apply dynamic processes to either waveform at any stage while applying shifts. The results are always varied and interesting.

Phase and Phase cancellation

I appreciate that the subject can be confusing so I made another video explaining in detail what Phase is and how it behaves:

Phase – what is total and partial phase cancellation

Watch that first to get some grounding for this particular video tutorial. However, here is a brief explanation of phase:

Phase occurs when two signal are time shifted. In other words, one signal will be offset by a specific amount to another. Basically, the phase is the progression along the cycle of the waveform determined as degrees. A 360 degree phase is one complete cycle of a waveform where 0 degrees is the start of the cycle. If two signals are aligned exactly in time and location then they are deemed to be in phase. If they are not then they are deemed to be out of phase. If you take one signal and invert it and sum with the other identical signal you will get what is referred to Total Phase Cancellation and this results in silence.

Using phase and partial phase cancellation on two waveforms, shifting one against the other and applying dynamic processes opens up new avenues of sound design possibilities. Plus, it’s really fun experimenting with this technique!

Nudging

Now that we understand what phase cancellation is let me show you how easy it is to use the Nudge Tool in your DAW to nudge one layer against another after inverting one of the sounds. By inverting/flipping and summing we, in effect, cancel the sounds and the process results in silence. This now gives us a clean frequency base to work from. If you use your DAW’s nudge tool and nudge one of the sounds by small amounts you will magically hear the audio change and in real-time.

In the video I explain, in detail, what phase cancellation is and how we can use it to our advantage when creating new sounds from existing sounds. The technique is quite ground breaking and new and I make sure to explain every step of the process so that you can benefit from this wonderful process when it comes to creating your own signature sounds. I use a drum beat as the audio example and show you easy it is to create completely new sounds just by using this technique.

Plugins used in this video:

Steinberg Cubase

Nugen Visualiser

Topics covered in this video are:

  • How do we use Phase in Sound Design
  • Understanding Summing and Cancellation
  • Using the Nudge Palette in your DAW
  • Understanding the various cancellations and how they affect sound
  • Flipping and Inversions
  • Tips and Tricks