The phase button on my Rowland Capri is for...?

Did he put it there to drive me nuts? On some songs, turning on the phase button sounds better, other songs worse, and others no difference. And the differences between all 3 are extremely subtle. Maybe a slightly wider stage, maybe a little more bass...or the inverse. Or nothing.

I am running a Benchmark DAC1 via balanced outs to the balanced ins on the Capri preamp, and balanced outs from the Capri to the balanced ins of my Rowland 102 amp.

I have read that Rowland uses the "old" method of balancing...whatever that means. I have also read that the Benchmark DAC1 is not "differentially" balanced.

I have no idea what any of this means. But I do find it somewhat irksome that pressing the phase button is so unpredictable.

Could anyone please explain briefly, in Best Buy terms, what all this means, and if the Benchmark is in fact playing nicely with my Rowland gear? The sound is pretty phoenomenal regardless. I'm more curious than concerned. In my crazy brain, seeing the orange light on the phase button makes me feel like I'm not listening to the sound in the purest form, like seeing a bass/treble knob not zeroed.

Thanks in advance for any shed light!
Recordings are made in phase and out of phase. Sometimes songs on the same CD or LP are recorded 180 degrees out of phase. There is no consistency.

You can use your preamp's phase button to choose the setting that sounds best to you. One setting generally sounds better than the other on each track.

As you discovered, the differences are subtle, therefore you can choose not to fuss with phase if you don't want to.

The choice is yours.
Not only do recordings invert phase, but each equipment component in you system may or may not. I've found lately that recordings tend to be more consistant and if you use a current test recording to determine phase then you'll be ok with that setting for most recordings. However, if a recording seems to lack omph and it bothers you, then you'll need to push the button occasionally.

Where you'll really notice it the most is on a recording of the kickdrum in a rock drum kit. The Sheffield Drum Record LP and CD is a good test. Both of those have the same phase. It's really nice that Rowland provides an easy to use button. Anyway, if you set your phase to the Drum Record, then I think you'll be happy most of the time. Without the button you'd have to switch poles on your speakers to get the same impact.

Since you are running balanced lines, I can introduce another variable. You will notice that your XLR plugs have three pins. These are positive, negative and ground. In some electronics you will have a ground 2 pin and in others it will be the 3 pin. If your Rowland and your Benchmark do not have the same configuration, you will reverse phase by connecting them.

Personally I think you should be glad you are not sensitive to phase. If you train yourself to identify phase anomalies, you will be driven crazy for the rest of your audio life.
Tvad and Macrojack are correct. A possibly useful hint: I mark the backs of my CDs, LPs and tapes with the "correct" (to my ears) phase/polarity setting, using 0 for "normal" and 180 for "inverted." Saves guesswork. Of course, as you noted, some recordings were done in mixed polarity and sound the same with either setting. Try not to drive yourself nuts with this. Dave
Thanks everyone. I am officially giving up on caring about this!
BTW Rkny, what do you think of the Carpi? What did it replace? What amp is it driving? Do you have the phono section in it? Are you using the PC-1 Power Factor Correction in front of it?

Dcstep - I have the Capri (w/phono), 102 and PC-1. I'm very pleased with it all. I can't characterize the sound for you but I will say that Rowland is for grownups. It's elegant, convenient, quiet and ergonomically sound. Very pretty too.

When you decide, as I did, that you've had enough of compromises and irregularities, JRDG is a welcome change for the better. It feels like it will last forever.

I'm driving Zu Presence speakers.
Agree with Macro 100%. I am only running the Capri and the Rowland phono, no PFC. My sole source is an Apple TV via Benchmark DAC1. I ignored everyone's warnings that the digital music would be the weak link. The sound is simply phoenomenal.
Thanks Macrojack, I grew a long time ago, but I understand you attraction to the Capri/102. I've got the Continuum 500 and I'm adding the phono stage on Monday. It's an incredible amp.

Hi Rkny, my current hi-fi setup is like this: Mac Pro -> Benchmark DAC1 -> Rowland 102 amp. I am now considering whether should I buy the Capri preamp. As you have the similar setup with mine, I would like to seek your opinion on whether the Capri preamp do a difference on sound performance in such equipment setup?

Thank you very much in advance.
Yes, that would be useful to know, does the Capri improve the SQ when added vs. the Benchmark straight into the 102? Since the Benchmark is one of the better DACs you'll mainly be gaining from the Capris superior attenuator.

Generally, running the digital volumes with no attenuation and then using the pre to attenuate will give the best results, but that obviously can vary depending on the relative quality of the volume controls involved.