Polarity - How many are inverted and what do you hear ?


#1

Hi Everybody,

I have been evaluating my digital collection over headphones (Sen Momentum 2) hooked up to SGCD and switching polarity in Audirvana.

So far I have discovered that more of my collection sounds better inverted versus normal. I have done so much evaluation that I can pick up if it sounds right or not within a few seconds of a guitar playing. Wrong polarity to me, the guitar sounds mid-scooped and lacking presence. Its like a ball and chain is strapped to the guitar not letting it breathe or something. Also, stage width is increased upon inversion in addition to a thickening of the guitar tone. Luckily for the most part inverting polarity benefits all instruments on most of my music, which is modern rock. Bass guitar is very noticeable. Bass presence is very different between polarity settings. In one case mid bass is almost gone which makes it difficult to follow bass tones through the decay, the other way however is very natural sounding and musical. Also, bass impact is drastically improved as well where it has alot of punch. Vocals are very different, one way the vocalist sounds a bit mid-scopped and like a recording while the other way it is eerily realistic and I can hear the breath of the voice like i’ve never heard before. They sound real :slight_smile:

Have any of you found that a large number of your collection sounds better in inverted polarity? I have done my comparison over headphones as I feel I have much better sensitivity here compared to my polk towers. I have played a small number of tracks inverted using the remote to the SGCD and the correlation is good so far. I’m surprised i’m finding so many albums/tracks sound better inverted. I have definitely found a few split albums. And I have found artists where half of the albums sound better regular and the other inverted.

Cheers !


#2

Keep in mind your playback chain may invert polarity. There are many pieces of equipment which invert absolute polarity.


#3

Check with the king of polarity: George Louis: http://audiogeorge.com/30-years-of-digital-and-the-92-solution/, etc.

Personally it’s not something that stands out for me and objectively I know that a lot of the time no one is checking that all of the mics are in phase or time aligned, not all of the editing maintains polarity and that different elements of a recording can easily have different polarities, let alone whether each box in your system preserves polarity. So to me it’s simple: you have a polarity button and you have two choices - pick which one sounds the best for each track and if you are OCD write it on the CD cases, or have an album insert, etc. You will probably get lucky with a number of discs and have the whole disc sounding best in one or the other polarity, but be aware that it can (and does) vary track to track at times.


#4

Playing with the SGCD and the phase reversal, same songs are confirming better over the towers inverted. Inverting many, the sound disappears from the speakers, the vocals come forward in a natural way with more body. Bass changes a lot, bass is felt and less heard. This goes along with my mid scoop assessment, certain aspects of bass are easier to hear one way, but lacks impact and punch; the other sounds real. It sounds like more texture is coming out, more instruments; in not cranking the volume as high :slight_smile:

Walking around the room, bass peaks at walls are less annoying near the wall and sound more musical.

I love that Audirvana let’s you put ‘invertpolarity’ in the meta notes and it will invert for you song by song.


#5

Keep in mind most of my collection doesn’t get better than DR8, many are DR5-6. I’m curious if Im finding many differences easily due to low dynamic range and wrong polarity synergizing into lifeless music.


#6
cxp said I love that Audirvana let's you put 'invertpolarity' in the meta notes and it will invert for you song by song.
A neat feature.

Paul, this would be a nice addition to Octave if not already planned.


#7
cxp said

Keep in mind most of my collection doesn’t get better than DR8, many are DR5-6. I’m curious if Im finding many differences easily due to low dynamic range and wrong polarity synergizing into lifeless music.


I think it might be more that less overproduced music is more likely to have some sort of consistency in absolute polarity. The more editing/processing, etc. the more likely for absolute polarity to get switched or “buried in the mix.” The likelihood that a disc has consistent absolute polarity depends on the label, etc. so overgeneralizing is easy to do. (Which is by far my biggest gripe with George Louis, but some find his lists of polarity quite useful.)

#8

Makes sense since there are so many processing steps. I have a good number of albums that are completely inverted and it definitely some that are mixed. What’s frustrating is the variable amounts of songs that inverted. Like when 1 or 2 songs are inverted.


#9

Watch out MQA lovers. I just found two examples where the cd version on Tidal was normal polarity but the MQA Edison was reverse! The MQA and my hi res were both reverse compared to the 16bit.


#10
cxp said I have a good number of albums that are completely inverted and it definitely some that are mixed. What's frustrating is the variable amounts of songs that inverted. Like when 1 or 2 songs are inverted.
Even worse, some of the tracks making up each song will be inverted and some not. This is then mixed to a stereo track.

#11

I have a new interesting theory.

(1) My SR Black fuse sounds quite different in either orientation. One way emphasizes the highs and has less presence and detail, the other is very natural.

(2) I had previously been evaluating fuse directionality with a music collection with at least 50% inverted polarity recordings.

The fuse going the opposite of my preference has a very similar effect as playing in the wrong polarity.

So I may have chosen the wrong fuse orientation previously in order to compensate for inverted polarity source music. I know for certain last time I changed my mind on direction of the fuse I was listening to music that now I have deemed inverted.

I am not suggesting that running a directional fuse the opposite way cancels out the negative effects of opposite polarity music; it may seriously complicate things though.


#12

A very interesting observation.

I was relieved to read your last sentence. :slight_smile:


#13

I just checked with Kevin at PS Audio. The fuse directionality goes from front of unit to back. So if you are on the AC plug side where the fuse holder is, it should read SR and not the opposite.

This is the direction that I happened to finally land at before writing last nights post.

So basically I have spent significant time in all 4 areas, (1) opposite polarity music + correct fuse, (2) opposite polarity music + inverted fuse, (3) correct polarity music + inverted fuse, and finally (4) correct polarity music + correct fuse. It’s been a long journey, fun nonetheless :slight_smile: Glad to know I got here with my ears; although I’m pretty sure my wife (if she cared as much as me) could do it in half the time.


#14

cxp,

Did Kevin say this applies to all PS audio product or just the SGCD? I’ve got 6 SR Black fuses in my BHK 250. Thx.

Allan


#15

Didn’t ask about other products. From what I’ve read thought on the forum, it varies. If you email PS audio they can get back to you fast though:)

Which way do you have yours now S on the inside or out?


#16

it’s been a long time but I believe I had the S inside.