What is polarity in music production?

Understanding Polarity can help you tremendously with improving the overall quality of your mix.

The term polarity in audio production refers to the alignment of a waveform, relative to another waveform. Meaning it could be positive(+) or negative(-) from its given median line.

How To Check Polarity

To be able to get a good result out, and to find the easiest way to notice if the reverse polarity effect improves your sound, it is recommended to mix in MONO.

This is most often done on low-mid frequencies since high frequencies move too quickly to make a difference.

How To Use Polarity

So, to use this knowledge into everyday use, a certain waveform can be reversed, this will create an exact mirror image of that waveform(duplicate), flipped into a negative state.

If you then put two of the same tracks and use Reverse Polarity on one of them, they will cancel each other out, giving out no sound whatsoever.

This can be used to derive an acapella version from a song, by putting the original song on one channel, and the instrumental on another channel together, then using the Reverse Polarity effect on the instrumental channel. 

If you have two sound sources in the mix containing similar frequencies that are playing at the same time, they might be producing some bad sound. You can use the Reverse Polarity command on one of them, to enrich the overall sound, and get a better sounding, cleaner tone.

What is the Difference Between Polarity and Phasing?

In the music industry, the terms polarity and phasing are often used regarding the same thing, when in fact, polarity and phasing serve a different purpose.

Polarity means a waveform can either be flipped in a positive or a negative state from its original position.

Phase, on the other hand, is defined by the difference of a frequency’s position, whether it's a millisecond earlier, or giving it a slight delay. You can learn more about phasing here.

It may not seem like much to someone who is not into audio production, but it makes a huge difference when communicating with other producers. Like when teaching or collabing.

Updated: Apr 02, 2020

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