Riddle me this....

It was recently suggested to me that by reversing the polarity of two stereo

speakers it will readjust  the depth of field in your soundstage.


In case that is unclear- If a voice was perceived as being one foot behind the

speakers and you swapped the positive to negative on the terminals of both

speakers it would make that voice move to being perceived as 

one foot in front of the plane of two stereo speakers.


Has anyone heard of this experiment and what can you

share about it?



Have vocalists and instrumentalists also learned to record in phase with each other.? My point is if one prefers one phase vs it’s opposite it’s possibly because one is focusing on one aspect of the performance, eg, the vocalist in an ensemble.

The answer to my rhetorical question is there is no difference between switching phase 180 degrees in balanced analog mode vs digitally. Except in the latter case the signal has to be reconverted to analog after phase is altered.

The term absolute phase just confuses the discussion. Signal Absolute Polarity is the terminology that should be used, imo... A normal positive transient signal will cause a driver's speaker voice coil to push the cone forward.  A negative signal transient will cause the voice coil to suck the cone inward. Using a kick drum as an example, when the kick peddle strikes the drum with force it will produce more air sound waves by the cone when the signal transient is positive, than inward sucking back, fed by a negative transient signal. 

The OP's question was about reversing the speaker cables polarity at both speakers. Will it change, alter, the sound?

Yes... But not everyone can hear the difference.  Can it be measured? Yes...

As for the chain of normal absolute polarity it starts with the source material and goes through all the electronic equipment to the connected speakers.

At any point in the signal chain if the absolute polarity is inverted then the final product feeding the speakers will be inverted. If the speakers are designed to be feed with a normal absolute polarity signal then if the polarity is inverted feeding the speaker the driver cone will suck in.

Yes there are recordings where the recording engineers didn't make sure the polarity was the same throughout chain. Note I did not say a normal absolute polarity chain. Some recordings have an inverted absolute polarity chain. And the recording engineer was aware of it. In an inverted absolute polarity recording, if the audio playback system electronics is normal absolute polarity and is maintained connected to the speakers, then the polarity at the speaker drivers will be inverted. The bass driver will suck in. Not push out when the kick peddle strikes the drum. Can it be measured with test equipment? Yes it can...

Read any published articles by the Late Doug Sax on absolute polarity. He made sure the polarity was keep the same throughout the recordings. Though the final product was an inverted absolute polarity.

This note on the inside cover of a Sheffield Lab-5 LP:

AUDIOPHILE NOTE: For optimum transient response and spatial clarity, we recommend that the polarity of BOTH channels be reversed at the speaker terminals (+ output terminal on power amplifier to - terminal on speaker and vice versa), however this procedure is not necessary for perfectly satisfactory play back.

I remembering reading an article years ago where Doug Sax was asked why his recording polarity was inverted? He said, (just going from memory), it was not intentional it was caused by a piece of equipment in the recording chain that inverted the signal. He was then asked couldn't he have corrected the inversion? He answered it would take more electronics in the signal chain and that could/would degrade the sound of the final product.

Just going from memory I remember reading the Late Frank Zappa recordings were also recorded inverted polarity. Why? I can't remember why.

Bottom line:

If you have an on the fly Phase/polarity switch on your preamp or DAC it pretty easy to check which way sounds the best to your ears when playing a well recorded, sounding, LP or CD.  It's that easy...