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.