Answers to The Top Three Music Questions You Were Afraid To Ask

XLR panel

How do you know when to use the "phase" button on a preamp?

Effectively, when it sounds better that way.

It's most often used in two situations: first, on a vocal cue, the phase interactions between the direct sound from the singer's throat to their ears can interact badly with those coming in via their headphones, so you want to give them the best sounding cue mix. This will vary depending on how the mic is wired and how far they are from the mic. Flip it and ask them what they like better.

Another frequent use is when there is an intrinsic phase reversal when micing a source from different positions. For instance, if you mic a speaker cab from front and back simultaneously, then the relative phase will be inverted on the two signals. This is because when the speaker is moving toward the front mic, it is moving away from the rear mic. Flipping the phase of the rear mic will result in far less cancellation on the low end and a louder sound. Drums miced from both sides can also exhibit this effect.

Finally you can use phase-nulling to ensure two mics are in optimal phase. When positioning an AB pair, you flip the phase of the B mic, and move it until it combined with A makes the least sound you can find. Flip it back into phase and your mics will be ideally phase coherent for that point source

Mic cables are called XLR- What does XLR stand for?

The abbreviation XLR came about as follows:
X - The original connector used was a "Cannon X" from the ITT-Cannon corporation.
L - In development, they added a *L*atch to the Cannon X. They took the letter L from latch to create a title for their new "XL" cable.
R - Finally, they combined a *R*ubber compound to the contacts, and took the letter R from rubber to create the XLR.

What is stage left and right?

There is stage perspective and audience perspective.

"Stage Left/Right" is the perspective of the performer on stage looking out to the audience. His Left is Stage Left.

If you're behind a board facing him, then you're left (Audience Left) is actually his right. So when you're looking at the stage and want to signal the guitar on YOUR left, you have to say Stage Right.

FYI closer to the audience is Downstage, and further back Upstage.

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