Because phase correlation is relative, there's really no wrong order way to do it. Having said that, to achieve the best performance-time reproduction, we recommend to use the top snare mic as the initial point of reference and align the drum tracks in this order:

  1. Align the Overheads mics to the Top snare mic (Top Snare = SEND1, Overheads = RECV1).
  2. Align the Bottom Snare mic and any additional Snare mics to the Top Snare mic (RECV1)
  3. If the Overheads are recorded onto an interleaved stereo track, set the same Auto-Align to SEND2(*) otherwise, set the Left Overhead to SEND2 and the Right Overhead to SEND3.
  4. Make sure the Kick's polarity is correct (you can use Auto-Align's Polarity switch) and set the main kick mic to SEND 4, if there are additional Kick mics, align them to the main Kick mic (RECV4).
  5. Align the Top Tom mics to the Overheads (RECV2 or RECV3 in correlation with their position), if there are additional Tom mics, align them to the Top Tom mics.
  6. Align the Hi-Hat mic to the Overheads (RECV2)
  7. Align the Room mic to the Top Snare mic (RECV1). If you would like to preserve some of the delay between the microphones while still improving phase correlation, use the Next / Previous buttons to move the timing of the mic further or closer in time to the next correlative position.

(*) Each Auto-Align instance can SEND and RECV at the same time, where the SEND is always post Auto-Align process.

It's preferable to play the same passage of music for each Auto-Align analysis.

As a rule of thumb, the more similar the content is in the various microphones, the more it will benefit from mic alignment and the more it'll be required. Because of this, the Snare is a great reference starting point, as it has a wide frequency range, a very clear transient and usually has a strong presence in the Overheads and Room mics.

Ultimately, Auto-Align correlation analysis should be fed with only the sounds that you're trying to align. For example, if you're trying to align the snare to the overheads, raise the side chain noise floor slider on the overheads channel until only the snare hits are visible in the main spectral phase correlation display. Then click on the Detect button to let Auto-Align do its magic.

The Side-Chain noise floor fader controls the input arriving from the RECV bus of Auto-Align. Going back to the snare and overheads example, it's usually easier to control the bleed coming from the snare track than the overheads track. You can think of the Noisefloor as a detection trigger to Auto-Align - only when a sound passes both Noisefloor levels, Auto-Align's correlation detection analysis will kick in. Using the noise floor slider can improve Auto-Align's detection.

Happy Alignment!