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Polarity matters. It seems that power polarity makes a bigger difference. Components can be wired in reverse from your house power and power cords can be wired in reverse. I guess when you change the speakers terminal around this causes a reverse phase effect. I have some Xindak power cords that are wired opposite from my other cords. I re-wired the cord at the male plug and the sound became more spacious. This cord sounds much more elegant and made for warm sounding gear. Very good extension on top.
There is another trick at the breaker as well. Would you believe one breaker can sound better than another? I have two dedicated breakers coming in and one sounds better than the other. When a system becomes more resolving you can hear the differences. I now just use my left dedicated circuit.
You should keep your sub and speakers in phase...place them all close together and then play with polarity - the strongest signal is usually in phase.
Absolute phase has proven to be audible with certain very specific test signals. Some claim to hear it with regular music but this is rare and difficult. At the end of the day the subwoofer cone should first move OUT with a kick drum and not inwards first (very hard to see). If you follow manufacturers recommendations then you should be OK. There is unfortunately a big risk that many recordings may not be recorded with the correct phase (if you assume nobody takes care then there is a 50/50 chance of mistakes). It is well known that many preamps invert.