Since many recording studios paid little attention to absolute phase it’s not unusual to encounter multi-miked recordings in which some of the instruments are in absolute phase and others are inverted, e.g., listen to the piano on the original release of track 1 of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue. The piano was recorded out of absolute phase and sounds obviously wrong (although beautifully played).
Fortunately, you can arrange your system to be sure a properly recorded source plays back through your speakers in absolute phase. All speaker manufactures color code their speaker terminals so that a positive-going voltage at its red or positive terminal will cause the speaker cone to move forward from its enclosure to create a compression.
To test that your system is in absolute phase, I recommend playing no more than a one-minute portion of a Mapleshade (or other CD where absolute phase has been correctly recorded) recording of a solo piano. Piano notes have a distinct attack and decay that we’re all pretty familiar with. When your sound system is in absolute phase the piano notes will sound sharp and clean. If in reverse phase the notes will sound almost backwards and slightly softer. If you want to reverse the phase of your system all you have to do is to reverse your speaker cables at the amplifiers. Please see Clark Johnsen’s ”the Wood Effect” for a more in-depth description of absolute phase and its history.
When a musician plays a note on the trumpet in Figure 1. air is forced from the trumpet first as a compression of the air followed by a reduction in air pressure called a rarefaction. The MIKE in the picture converts the compressions and rarefactions produced by the trumpet into an electrical voltage.
"...nothing gets you closer to the music."
The voltage is in absolute phase with the sound waves if a positive voltage corresponds to a compression and a negative voltage corresponds to a rarefaction. This voltage gets converted into pits (by the CD manufacturer) and when played back on your sound system will either reproduce the original note in the same absolute phase as the original, Figure 1., or in inverted phase with the original, Figure 2.
Why should absolute phase be obvious to the listener? I believe it has to do with rather recent research that shows that our inner ears’ hair cells are easier to bend in one direction than in the other. Prior research found no difference in the way we hear the absolute phase of pure tones so many in the audio business believed that the ear was not sensitive to absolute phase when listening to music or voice.
Omega Mikro ribbon and Clearview wire products take the concept of absolute phase to another level. Our conductors have been specially manufactured to have an asymmetrical crystalline structure. When a positive voltage causes a positive current (corresponding to a compression of air) to flow through an Omega Mikro conductor in the proper direction your ear hears the attacks and decays more naturally than if the same current were flowing through the conductor in the reverse direction or if it flowed in a conductor that had not been refined using our proprietary directionality-enhancing process. Our products don’t change the phase of the signals flowing through them. They support the directional flow of energy consistent with absolute phase when oriented in the right direction.
Therefore, if a component inverts phase, our ribbons or wires must be reversed to sound their best when used downstream of the phase-inverting component. Our active interconnects and power cords must be specially manufactured to support an inverted signal. However, active Omega Mikro speaker cables use separate positive and negative ribbons. These can be reversed at the amplifier end so they do not need to be specially manufactured to support an inverted signal. Always connect the positive ribbon to the positive speaker lead and follow the directions for our speaker cables to complement your setup.
Our Omega Mikro power cords are manufactured in two directionalities we call Red and Blue. The only difference between them is the directions of the ribbons inside. It so happens that 70% of equipment sounds best with a Red power cord and the rest sound best with Blue.
Why should a power cord sound different with its ribbons reversed in direction? Audio signals processed by your stereo equipment modulate the incoming AC line power and also cause low power signals to be transmitted from one piece of equipment through the power cords to your other equipment. When the direction of the components within a piece of equipment and power cord ribbons are aligned the flow of current is consistent with absolute phase and it sounds better. Since we do not know how manufacturers’ wire their equipment, nor can we assume they will be consistent, we supply two power cords for you to try, one Red and one Blue. Keep the one that sounds best and return the other one to us for a refund.