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Copy of How to Record Using Your DAW's Flanger and Phaser Plug-Ins

Fig. 1

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One of the top producers/engineers at one of the world's top tracking havens, Nashville's famed Blackbird Studios, shares tips and tricks on how to Introduce these classic effects to your mixes.

Hello and welcome to another Dojo. This time I'll discuss the differences between phasing and flanging and offer some advice on how better to use these effects in your recording and mixes.


First, what is flanging? Flanging gets its name from the glory days of tape machines. More specifically, the miles of spooled tape that was used to make records that were fed, and alternately collected, on metal reels—the outer edge of which was called the "flange." The earliest way to accomplish flanging was by synching two tape machines playing back the same exact audio material, and manually slowing down one of the machines by pressing a finger (or two) on the flange of the playback reel on one of the tape machines, releasing it, and listening to the characteristic "swoosh" as it raced back into synch with the other machine. Do this more than once, and you are "flanging."

Slowly run your hand up and down the length of the guitar’s neck

Turn the guitar over and check its heel

In contrast, phasing is accomplished by lining up a small group of non-linear, all-pass filters in series that react with frequencies in different ways. Look at Fig. 2. This shifts a particular frequency's wavelength ever so slightly (i.e., 250 Hz moving an eighth of a wavelength). By combing other filters reacting to different frequencies, and phase-shifting those wavelengths by random amounts, you get the comb-filtering that is characteristic of phasers.

Fig. 2

Both effects have similar sounds, characteristics, and controls. Today, most offer adjustable delay times in parallel or series, phase angles, LFO types, filter types, and delay lines at different degrees of phase that can be modulated in sync with your DAW's bpm.

Now, let me offer some basic jumping off points for you to begin experimenting with phasing and flanging. I particularly like using these effects on families of instruments (drums, grouped guitars, background vocals, strings, synths, loops, etc.) or on whole sections of mixes. Try this:

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