SH Spotlight SH Forum members: Are your speakers in correct phase?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. Tim Casey

    Tim Casey Active Member

    Boston, MA USA
    Two things:

    1. "Can't you tell if a stereo recording is o.o.p.?" - It would be incredible to find a recording that made it past the engineers being out of phase. The only times I've experienced this is with someone's SPEAKERS being out of phase, which of course wouldn't show up on a computer analysis of the original audio file.

    2. Don't bring up esoteric speaker cables on the forum; as an engineer, I agree that thick cables are good enough, but it's a subject that a lot of people here feel very strongly about (including the main man, Steve Hoffman). A good rule of thumb is not to discuss politics, religion, or speaker cables at the dinner table if you want to make it to dessert...
  2. Veech

    Veech Space In Sounds

    Los Angeles, CA
    Originally Posted by thegage
    Silent Running Audio has a chart (available for download on their homepage: listing their determination of absolute phase for a number of record labels. I haven't done any serious listening to confirm or disprove their findings, but if you take it at face value the conclusion is that essentially half the record labels put out recordings in reversed absolute polarity. Depending on your listening habits you could be doing a lot of speaker wire switching!

    John K.

    Sorry, I read "reversed absolute polarity" in the above post and equated it to "out of phase".
  3. Elton

    Elton I Hope Being Helpful, Will Make Me Look Cool

    Carson Ca.
    I'm in phase, but not now I have to clean everything! And since I'm doing that, now I'll try to find that hum.... :confused: :wave: :love:
  4. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    But doesn't silver have less resistance than copper. Much of the reason for heavy guage speaker wire is to lower the resistance, so it makes sense that using silver wire would allow lighter guage wire than with copper. But I bet it would also be much more expensive.
  5. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    It's been taken too far.

    Everything from Audio Consulting is extremely expensive.
  6. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Well virtually all amps that I know of use DC power supplies. :confused: You just plug them in the wall so that the power supply can convert the AC wall power to the DC power that the amplifier runs on. The amplifier essentially modulates the power supply. In fact, it is my opinion, that a battery is a virtually perfect power supply. The only problem is with keeping it from running down. A battery has no ripple which means no hum. And of course you may need quite a few of them to get the right voltages for both positive and negative supplies.

    I once built a plus and minus 24v power supply from 4 car batteries to power up a large studio console in an emergency. It sounded great and no doubt better than the actual supply that came with the console. The same setup would have been great to replace the power supply in many a power amplifier, though the 24v is a bit low for high powered amps.
  7. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    I don't really buy into this. I don't think record labels put out records with any regard to absolute phase. Maybe a few audiophile companies that use simple recordings with a few microphones might. But, as I earlier posted, all mics in a recording aren't necessarily in the same absolute phase. So how can one way be right and the other wrong. Unless all mics are exactly the same phase, and all mics are pointing the same direction, and there is no phase shifting in any step in production, I would think that most recordings have many tracks with varying phases. So how can we talk about absolute phase in any recording where this has happened. :confused:

    And I made the same mistake that you did. In an earlier post it came up that there were recordings with channels out of phase. Of course, this is extremely unlikely unless we are talking about absolute as opposed to relative phase. It is one thing for a record company to have out of phase speakers, but if a mastering engineer doesn't catch and correct an out of relative phase condition, well he won't be a mastering engineer for long. If your recording is out of phase it is impossible to even evaluate it, let alone process it.
  8. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff

    My speakers are in-phase but thankfully, I am not...

    Bob :D
  9. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    I agree completely. It is instructive to me that all demonstrations on test CDs of the audibility of absolute polarity invariably involve solo instruments and one mic, because in that case it is very obvious. Once you get into a situation of multiple mics or multi-tracks/overdubs all bets are off.

    John K.
  10. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    Right. And then it's a matter of what instruments are most important to you in the mix so you fix polarity so THEY sound the best.

    Sometimes it's best not to know or worry about these things!
  11. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    When checking the speaker phase on systems which use cable which does not have different colours to identify each wire (eg. one wire is marked with embossed lettering or grooves) I will identify the marked wire at each end with a black marking pen (on the plastic, of course). This makes it absolutely clear which wire is which, when I'm twisted in an awkward position behind an amp or speaker in poor light. It is particularly useful when checking non-audiophile's systems which have different pieces of cable joined together (urrrrgh!).
  12. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host Thread Starter

    A question came up as to what ABSOLUTE POLARITY is. It is NOT the same as having your speakers wired out of phase as I describe in my first post. It is a different phenomenon altogether.

    You need to read the book "THE WOOD EFFECT" by Clark Johnson (who quit my Forums in a huff last year when some guy called him a menace to audio, heh. Far from it.)

    Clark Johnson states:

    "I refer to the phenomenon of Absolute Polarity, which treats how a natural compression wave can be inverted by electronics into a rarefaction wave issuing from the loudspeaker. The two sound very different, and I refer to wrong polarity as "the muffling distortion". Any low-phase-distortion audio system will reveal the existence of polarity; in fact, I use that criterion to judge whether a system is any good at all!"
  13. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Well. I am here to report that my main 2 speakers and my 2 rear speakers are in phase, and surprisingly, the wires are in the right direction to all 4 speakers (although I still don't understand why it matters....)
  14. Lownotes

    Lownotes Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    When I played professionally, we would use a AA battery to check all the paper cones. When touched to +, they should move out.
  15. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    This brings up an interesting point. I often use small batteries to test for phase in multi speaker installations. And yes, if you hook the battery one way the speaker moves in, and if you reverse the battery the speaker moves out.

    Well the interesting and relevant part of this is that the battery pulse sounds different to me when the speaker moves in as opposed to moving out. Moving out has more punch, while moving in is almost a sucking sound.

    Well, this is absolute phase in action.

    If you had a straight mono recording of a bass drum and changed the phase of the single speaker, you will hear a somewhat similar effect on the initial attack of the drum.
  16. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    Steve Hoffman stated: Usually the DIRECTION OF THE WRITING should be followed and it translates to the direction that the sound is going as well.

    Once a cable breaks in (related to electron flow at the jacket around the wire), the cable needs to be kept in the same orientation to avoid having to break in all over again. Depending on the cable, break in can take 24 to 500 hours. I know this is hard to believe, but I have heard this happen as have many others. The belief is that a new cable will impart a signature on the sound that is compressed with less depth and focus. Once the cable breaks in the sound will be more relaxed and liquid with better depth and focus. You can experiment with this if you want by recording your system's sound with a new cable in place and comparing it to a recording made after the cable has been used between a tuner and preamp non-stop for 2 weeks. Directional arrows are, for the most part, there for reference only so when you pull your system apart and reconnect, it takes less time for the system to settle in.

    I check phase and absolute phase with the XLO Reference Recordings Test and Burn-In CD each time I reconnect wiring on any of my three systems. I've made wiring errors on too many occasions not to check for in phase every time I change something! :)
  17. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    I have noticed this as well. :righton:
  18. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    thanks, Randy.
  19. TMan

    TMan Forum Resident

    Washington, DC
    I've known about wiring speakers in phase since I hooked up my first stereo as a wee lad. Don't remember how I knew this - I guess the old man or a friend with an older brother taught me.

    Just to make sure - to check can I just hit the mono button on my receiver instead of finding a mono recording? I assume this would work, but you never know.

    About directionality of cables - is there any EE theory or formulas that indicate that electrons need time to 'get up to speed' going the right way?
  20. Doug Hess Jr.

    Doug Hess Jr. Forum Resident

    Belpre, Ohio
    THANK YOU!! That's the one piece of information missing from this thread. While I make sure my speakers are in phase, I wasn't sure if the + was supposed to make the speaker go out or in.
  21. Randy W

    Randy W Original Member

    One other note about absolute phase. For those of you with tube pre-amps, be sure to consult your manuals for your pre-amp to see if it inverts phase (most do). Once you have reversed + and - speaker cable connections at both speakers, you will hear a remarkable difference: center focus and soundstage width will be significantly better. Enough of a difference to have you changing speakers placement and toe in!
  22. Kent Teffeteller

    Kent Teffeteller New Member

    Athens, TN
    Hi Steve,

    Yes, my system is in Phase! Nothing annoys me more than out of phase speakers (except for the MEGA SQUASHED sound of so many new CD recordings) This is especially true as I am a broadcast and recording engineer.

    Kent Teffeteller
  23. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Interesting! I wonder if my McIntosh MX110 inverts phase.

    Actually, I think I'll just go and press the phase switch on the pre. See what happens. :)
  24. AudioGirl

    AudioGirl Active Member

    Los Angeles
    So, does it?
  25. Rick B.

    Rick B. Forum Resident

    BTW, I have had friends whose speakers were mis-wired - that is, if you used what was labeled as '+' and '-' you wound up out of phase. Yes, they were very cheap speakers!

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