Changing Absolute Phase

About a half century ago, a high school friend of mine, Dave Magnan, demonstrated to me how different a system sounded in a particular recording when you changed absolute phase. In those days, if you had stacked Quad 57s and subwoofers, that meant 6 cable pair switchings. Once I got a preamp with a phase switch I never looked back.
With the PW DAC I could tell which phasing sounded better almost instantly. And the filter settings complicated choices even more.
So with the fabulous DSD I DAC the filter switching is gone, I guess because that was a PCM function. But additionally, the difference in sound between the 2 absolute phase settings is far less than ever, either for analog or PCM. Reason?

Any relation to this Magnan?

Magnan Signature ICs

When switching phase from In/Out on my PSA DS DAC I have a very hard time hearing a difference even with very simple recordings.

Queue @minnesotafats. He will explain that virtually every vinyl album you listen to needs to have the phase reversed. He has the documents!

I clearly heard phase differences with the Mk1 and hear them with the Mk2. Not night and day in most cases, but heard.

Great, another thing to fret about and get in the way of enjoying the music.

Unfortunately this phase thing may be a real thing. The folks at Zanden have a white paper on a variety of tape machines used in the recording industry process that had phase inverted. Zanden of course has a solution with a phase switch built into their preamps. Who knows what is true. My ears tell me I like the option when I am listening to my vinyl.

Yes, that Magnan. He definitely helped me hear more analytically. Remembering that being an audiophile doesn’t have to do with how well your biological audio system works, but knowing what to listen for, he had the best analytic ear of anyone I have ever met.

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Let me make something clear. Some recordings are made in absolute phase, some out of phase. For 24 channel recordings who knows what goes on. And even if a recording was made in absolute phase, the mastering process hookup errors could make it out of absolute phase.
I don’t care. All I care about is that when I reverse leads at my speakers (the old days) or click the phase switch on my preamp or DACpreamp, in one position there are one or more of many sonic problems. Boomy bass, center vocalist too far forward, glassy sounding strings, closed in imaging (in the best recordings, the opposite of that is imaging that goes to the right and left and above the main speakers, but this closes down in the other phase switch position), etc (all I can think of right now).
In the other position those problems are either ameliorated or made non-existent.
That was until now. The Direct Stream I shows some change when switching, and on many recordings it is definitely audible, but nowhere near what I had heard in the previous 53 years that I was aware of this problem.
And yes, I am an 80 year old male, and my high frequencies have evaporated like crazy, but the brain seems to compensate. One might say might audio discernment is still there. From my point of view, when something is off, as in the phase problem, I experience pain. A real, neurotic audiophile pain. Pain is a much better indicator than aesthetic pleasure or displeasure. It is compulsive. Anyway, that is my story and I’m stickin’ to it.


I forgot one thing. My audio pain is less with Direct Stream than any other DAC I have ever heard.


I used his interconnects (both Type IV and Reference) and his Signature speaker cables to good effect for years. If it hadn’t been for audiophilia nervosa and the constant “I wonder what…” I never would/should have switched away from them.