That happens more than one would think.
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When you reverse the speaker lead on one speaker (and assuming they are correctly connected in the first place) the speakers become out of phase and you will have destroyed the focused center image - you will now have a sound that spreads apart from the center and sounds like its coming from the speakers and about the room. This is not the result of any recording. Recordings can be recorded with reverse polarity - to correct this you would have to reverse both speakers leads identically. Playing a recording with reversed polarity can make the record sound thin as opposed to full. Some equipment comes with a switch to allow you to easily reverse polarity - if you don't have one don't worry about reversed polarity on the recording, it will drive you crazy. To check to see if your speakers are in correct phase, play a simply recorded voice, or the voice of an announcer on the tuner - the stereo image should be centered and focused - it sould not sound like its coming from the speakers or elsewhere. If its not focused and in the center, reverse the speaker leads on one speaker and do it again. Make sense to you?
I would think that it is quite possible that one channel is out of phase and the other is in. These phase anomolies occur during the recording process. It is not only possible, but, unfortunately likely that some recording engineers are less carefull about these things than their customers. If the engineers are careless or disregard the issue all together, it's pot luck as to which channels are in phase and which channels are out of phase. Worse, it's possible that parts of any particular channel may be in phase and parts may be out of phase.
I have never heard a stereo recording where the soloist was out of phase between channels. This would be so obvious that I don't see how the recording could get through production that way.
Many recordings have tracks (of the original multichannel master tape) mixed out of phase so as to create the "coming from all over the place" effect. For example, Judy Collins recording of the song "Farewell to Tiwathie" has whale "songs" dubbed in as background, and, with a good matrix multichannel system, the whales swim all around you in the air.
One multichannel SACD, Hilary Hahn playing the Brahms violin concerto got me mad, because, with a perfectly good discrete center channel available, they mixed her into Left and Right.
Maybe this SACD was mixed by the same idiot who made the RCA recording. Interesting that it is also the Brahms concerto. A jinx perhaps?
Eldartford is right - hard to believe because it's so obvious. I've done some checking today, on my memory. Although I still think I heard an out of phase Sound of Music neither my vinyl copy nor the factory made reel-to-reel is out of phase. But, when I checked on the Carpenters I confirmed I wasn't losing my mind. The AM reel-to-reel is out of phase which I confirmed by playing the vinyl (don't know why I happen to have both of these - garage sale finds I'm sure). Anyway, it does happen, once in a great while.
And just to clarify. Newbee, I'm not talking about absolute polarity. My system's set up just fine and in phase - and I adjust absolute polarity on nearly all music I play (thanks to a cheat sheet that lists many popular record labels and whether they recorded in phase or 180 degrees out of phase - and a switch on my Plinius preamp that makes it easy to invert the polarity). Absolute polarity is subtle but you can hear it and it DOES make a difference. Once I learned to identify it I wondered why more preamps don't have the ability to correct inverted phase recordings.
The anomaly I'm talking about is a characteristic of the specific recording - which as I said, can be corrected by reversing the positive and negative on ONE speaker (thus making every other CORRECTLY recorded tape, CD, or album out of phase.)