# Why is no phase information lost when a received signal goes through a mixer?

I'm sorry if the question is too philosophical or makes no sense, but I need to be able to explain why it doesn't make sense. When we take the in-phase and quadrature-phase base-band components of an intermediate frequency signal, it's very easy to show that any one of the two orthogonal components alone would be insufficient to distinguish the variations in a single-carrier phase from variations in its amplitude. This tutorial makes it quite clear. The Q component, although real, carries the imaginary component of the phasor $A(t)\exp(2\pi f_I\cdot t + \phi(t) )$.

However, when we pass the RF signal through a mixer, there is no Q component lost. No phase modulation will be lost in the base-band signal obtained later. Why not? A figure to help create context. The receiver's mixer introduces a phase-shift to the in-phase and quadrature components. In very general terms, assume we have a signal $$a(t)e^{j(2\pi f_0 t + \phi(t))},$$ which is mixed with a local oscillator of frequency $f_{lo}$ and phase $\delta$: $$e^{j(2\pi f_{lo}t + \delta)}.$$ The output signal is
In other words, even though the frequency has been shifted and a phase-shift equal to $\delta$ has been introduced, $a(t)$ and $\phi(t)$ are still present in the signal and that means that all the information carried by the original signal is still there.
• I get it, this is good. It would be even better if it better did not rush to base band, say, if you made $f_O=f_c+f_I$, and the final signal $A(t)e^{-2\pi f_I t +\phi(t) - \delta}$ since my question specifically mentions Intermediate frequency stage. What you made obvious to me is that both I and Q components, as well as the IF signal carry the whole signal, but each (of the IQ) keeps a different complementary part of it on the Real axis (which is what we can directly observe). Thank you. – Benari Jul 15 '17 at 19:48
• Lots of $j$'s missing in your equations.... – Dilip Sarwate Jul 16 '17 at 14:28