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Reversed channels fatiguing?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

So I've had 2 sets of amp/dacs that I've been trying out for over a week, usually just listening to one or the other, and decided tonight was the night to do an actual back to back shootout. Queued up a 2h+ playlist and hit play with stack 1, then swapped amp/dacs and started it all over again. As I started going through the second grouping, I started thinking it sounded very different than my experience over the past week and clearly less enjoyable than the first stack. It wasn't harsh or extra trebly, but for some reason it was downright fatiguing. I tried not to get overly swayed by what I had read about this particular set of gear in the past, but all the postives went out the window and I kept thinking about the negative adjectives: ("bright", "shouty", "unforgiving", etc).

 

I just wasn't enjoying myself and started thinking my search was over and stack 2 would get returned... then I got to track 30 (Getz/Gilberto's Girl from Ipanema)... and realized my cables had been plugged in backwards the whole time. 

 

Once I swapped things back, everything seemed happy again. Has anyone ever experienced this before? Unless the two sides have some drastically different FR or something, my expereince seems nonsensical to me. Why would it feel different and not just backwards?

 

I've heard people swear they could tell when speakers were wired backwards, i.e. could determine absolute phase, but that always sounded like BS to me. Also, swapping of these cables shouldn't have resulted in my drivers being out of phase, just backwards, right? I found the whole experience kinda interesting and unexpected. 

 

I guess I'll repeat this whole process again tomorrow, taking a little bit more care to verify which plugs go where.

post #2 of 5

Your experience was not due to cables being plugged in the wrong way.  Despite claims to the contrary there is no difference in the signal due to cable directionality.   Without knowing the other equipment it is hard to say if anything real was going on.  Perhaps by the time of listening to the second stack you were in fact fatigued.  Or hearing the same playlist second time through you were less interested.   Finally if you didn't precisely match playback levels that is another confounding aspect of your comparison.  Chances are good a different DAC has a slightly different signal level and even more so for two amps.  Even very tiny volume differences of .2db will make identical items sound different in quality. The loudness difference won't be heard as loudness when it is small.  

post #3 of 5
The odds of being tired of listening to music the second time through are much higher than listening to the same music with fresh ears.

I'm not sure what you mean by reversed though. Do you mean left and right channels on the wrong side? I don't see how you could plug in wires to make them reversed phase. The plug is wired for correct phase. Are you connecting bare wires?
Edited by bigshot - 4/16/14 at 11:11am
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
 

Your experience was not due to cables being plugged in the wrong way.  Despite claims to the contrary there is no difference in the signal due to cable directionality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I'm not sure what you mean by reversed though. Do you mean left and right channels on the wrong side? I don't see how you could plug in wires to make them reversed phase. The plug is wired for correct phase. Are you connecting bare wires?
 

Apologies for not being clear, when I say "cables were backwards", I meant that I had plugged the mini-XLRs into the wrong cup of my LCD-3s, in effect swapping left/right channels. One amp is fully balanced and the other is not, so I had to swap headphone cables. In theory the stock cables are as close to identical as you can get in terms of construction other than the connectors.

 

I don't believe in "cable directionality" for AC signals, so that's not what I meant. I double checked wiring guides for the Audeze cables and the pinouts should be identical so there should have been no difference in absolute phase either, no matter how far-fetched that explanation might have been.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by esldude View Post
 

Perhaps by the time of listening to the second stack you were in fact fatigued.  Or hearing the same playlist second time through you were less interested.   Finally if you didn't precisely match playback levels that is another confounding aspect of your comparison.  Chances are good a different DAC has a slightly different signal level and even more so for two amps.  Even very tiny volume differences of .2db will make identical items sound different in quality. The loudness difference won't be heard as loudness when it is small.  

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

The odds of being tired of listening to music the second time through are much higher than listening to the same music with fresh ears.

 

Agree that small volume differences can cause perception changes, which definitely would affect AMP/DAC #1 vs AMP/DAC #2, but should have been a non-issue when comparing AMP/DAC #2 w/ reversed channels and AMP/DAC #2.

I was definitely cognizant of that possibility so I purposely avoided adjusting the volume control when I noticed the reversed channels. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to accurately level match headphones within .2 db without dedicated equipment, stressing the difference between precision and accuracy.

 

I guess I'm wondering more about whether anyone had ever done something like this and had a vaguely similar reaction. Perhaps it was my subconscious just telling me that the instruments were in the wrong places.

post #5 of 5

Swapping left for right shouldn't make any difference unless you're listening to an orchestral recording with violins on the left.

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