Absolute Polarity Switch

Whenever I play a new CD (my system is single source CD) I listen with the polarity both ways to determine which is right for that recording. Often, that setting works for all the tracks, but sometimes it is mixed, on compilation albums, for example. Once I have determined the best sounding position for that CD (or individual track), I mark it with a red or blue dot sticker.

My understanding of, and experience with, absolute polarity is that you want to match the polarity of the microphones that originally captured the sound, regardless of how many times the polarity may have been flipped between them and the sound coming out of your speakers. The reason for this is that there has never been a universal standard for wiring mics, so it could be either way. If you don’t have a method for changing the polarity of your system, then the odds of it being right (ie best sounding) for any given recording are about 50/50. In simplistic terms this means that half of your music collection will never sound as good as it could. This correlates very well with my experience, as roughly half my CDs sound better one way, and half the other.

Of course, this assumes that all the original mics were wired the same way. This may not be the case, especially with multi-track recordings. Even with these recordings, though, in most cases, I have found one setting preferable to the other.

A few components (mainly preamps) do have an absolute polarity switch (sometimes improperly labeled as “phase”), but most don’t. Without one, you will need to reverse the speaker leads at your amp, in order to switch polarity. Not exactly an easy or practical method. Implementing a polarity switch is relatively easy, if you have transformers somewhere in the signal path. If not, it gets a lot more complicated. My amplifier (Antique Sound Lab Tulip 2A3 SET) has input transformers, so I had a friend help me add a polarity switch to it years ago. Eventually, I hope to acquire a Music First Audio passive TVC pre with polarity switching, freeing me to upgrade my amp. Some may not hear a difference switching polarity, but a polarity switch is not something I want to live without in my system.

@tommylion - Your post mirrors exactly the same circumstances for my systems, with the exception that each of my two systems have a switch built in for phase.  One is an Aesthetix Calypso preamp and the other is a Luxman 509 integrated. I ended up with the Calypso before I was attuned to phase.  It was intentional with the Luxman purchase that it have the capability.  

The Calypso has a button on the remote and the face of the unit.  The 509 has the switch on the rear at the balanced inputs only, implying it isn't possible on the single ended inputs.  I suspect the Calypso has the same limitation for balanced inputs only.  

This only applies to CDs for me as that is the only source medium for my systems.  I apply a small square of blue painters tape to the front of each CD case: in phase gets a plus and out of phase gets a minus.  

In most instances the selection of the preferred orientation is very subtle.  In more noticeable circumstances I find a more mono presentation for out of phase and more of a spatial soundstage bloom for in phase.  In most discs I don't hear a difference among tracks once I settle on a phase but will need to be more sensitive in the future. 

It makes me wonder how it translates to streaming sources.  Personally, I believe it is a real attribute and should be a listed setting for each recording.  

The ability to switch it will be in my system(s) for the distant future.  

Clark was a very good friend. He used to come to S Florida every November and stay with me for a few weeks

I find Absolute Polarity affects subwoofer bass much more than the rest of the music.  Unfortunately, only the most expensive powered subs have it on remote controls

Perhaps another check mark in the streaming column when comparing media sources?

Assuming polarity is a nonissue when streaming
All Herron line stages include AC polarity (easy to measure and audible) and absolute polarity switches. Absolute polarity can be switched remotely from the listening position.

The problem with most absolute polarity switching circuits is that the circuit causes more of an audible change than the absolute polarity of the recording itself. Keith Herron worked really hard at making his circuit inaudible.

Your system has to be really fine tuned to easily hear these differences, especially necessary to have the listening and speaker positions spot on among other things.

Considering about half of all recording are reversed polarity, in a true audiophile system properly built and set up, this feature would be mandatory.
@cleeds, believe it or not my system is just fine and so is my hearing.
The variance you have here is due almost entirely to psycho acoustic effects and the inability of some people to moderate their opinions based on this traditional human problem. The reason for this opinion and self assurance is that I have thoroughly tested many of these issues, like polarity and there is no difference. How many people do you know who can reverse the polarity of an entire system by remote control from their listening position? This is what you have to be able to do to make this determination. If you have not done this than you have absolutely no idea. None, Zero, Nada. Changing polarity on an entire system has no effect on sound quality. Changing the polarity of subwoofers only will definitely change the sound for obvious reasons as will changing the polarity of the main speakers only and not the subs. 
As I have said before, what other people hear in terms of sound quality is of very little consequence to me. Human hearing is not designed to make these determinations and most audiophiles have absolutely no idea what they are listening to in regards to such things as frequency response. Cleeds, what is the exact frequency response of your system. Do you know at all what kind of response you like? Have any group delays?