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In Reply to: My real question re. ' Break In' of components.. posted by AJ F on March 3, 2006 at 09:42:24:
*break in* is a fun thing for hobbyists to talk about. It's discussion spills over into marketing and reviews. It may make us feel better. We may enjoy our music more in its firm belief. But it comes with a wink and a nod.
Consider, it is not measurable. It is not predicted by engineering nor physics models. It is not detectable in DBX tests.
Audio equipment sales is big money to some very bright people who feed their familes and fund their retirement. If playing a $10k piece of equipment for X number of hours would improve its sound out the door, rest assured the marketplace would see to it this is done.
My wife is double boarded and does some pretty cutting edge medical reseach. She holds her tongue when my hippy friends come by and the conversation turns to alternative medicine. For them, it is a hobby, and loads of fun to discuss homeopathy, for my wife, it is her profession shared with some very bright people. Discuss away, but it is done with a wink and a nod.
Break in is the alternative medicine of audio. Personal anecdotes abound as to its existence, but the tools we as a society have created to test whether we are fooling ourselves, as we are apt to do, say it does not exist. Sure there are people who believe in it. 60% of Americans believe in ghosts.
...an electromechanical system that performs *exactly* the same at hour 1 as it does at hour 1,000 and hour 10,000. Not predicted by engineering models you say? Apparently you're not an engineer.
I understand that loudspeaker designers often work with broken-in drivers when building or tweaking a new speaker. Why? Because they perform differently than brand-new drivers.
I agree that some people tend to exaggerate the magnitude of break-in with electronic components. If an amplifier, for example, literally sounds bad at hour 1, it's always going to sound bad. The sound DOES change, though.
When I replaced all the capacitors in my tube amp last year, the sound had an unmistakable "grain" for the first several hours but overall didn't sound bad. The grain has since disappeared, but my subjective impressions had nothing to do with it.
I don't consider break-in a "fun" thing to talk about, nor does it make me "feel better," but it is real.
Thanks for your response.
The original post referred to burn in for cable, not as you counter with, "an electromechanical system". The original post said nothing about capacitors. Capacitors or speaker drivers are one thing, cable is another. These are apple and oranges. Arguing driver break in as a defense to cable break in is analogous to arguing lunar gravity to defend astrology.
My post was not in reference to speaker drivers, but rather referring to the original posts example of "speaker cable changing after being played for 100(s) [of] hours."
You also write: "If an amplifier, for example, literally sounds bad at hour 1, it's always going to sound bad. The sound DOES change, though." This is another subject, and I would agree with you to an extent.
Please, lets stick to the hypothesis of the original poster, I am interested in reading your defense of cable break in. I am no slouch on math, so don't be afraid to get technical. Though not an engineer by training, I am no stranger to engineering texts. I am willing to learn.
5 or six years ago, things like the Gryphon Exorcist, and such, they claimed to demagnetize the circuit. The Exorcist just emitted a 1kHZ toneburst with a 30 to 45 second decay. and they claimed this demagnetized the wire the signal was going through.
People like Purist market a disc with what they claim are 100+ programs to demagnetize the most commonly found items in your circuit path. There is a change with the use of such devices, but how does one measure and test their hypothesis?
I took a simple hand held degausser, a Geneva 2800 Gauss machine used for tape erasing and simply ran it down the length of my interconnects and speaker wire. The effect was identical to using such devices, except the effect did not last as long as the Purist Audio treatment (a 74 minute CD). I could hear the sound changing within a 5 minute span.
I am hypothesising here, but the current flow seems to be magnetizing the insulation and the boundary material next to the actual conductor, if not the conductor itself. What is surprising is that such small changes in the magnetic properties can be heard (at least by some).
One speaker designer I've spoken to thinks that part of driver break in is due to the annealing of the voice coils and the inductors, saying that that would explain why you have to push a driver in order to have it break in, meaning the wiring has to heat up some.
I'm not saying this is the cause, but it is food for thought.
The original poster used cable as an example. I didn't realize that's strictly what you were talking about, sorry... my bad.
Whether break-in occurs in a conductor and its insulation is beyond my area of expertise, nor do I have the listening experience to make an informed judgment. When I made the switch to Goertz cable years ago, I was pleased enough with the results that I haven't worried about cables since. They sounded great from the start, so I didn't even consider listening for any "break in" effects either. It might be interesting to compare one of my old cables to a brand new one one of these days, but until that time... I dunno.
The only things I can go on are are the well informed opinions of certain people, many of whom say cable break-in is a real phenomenon. On the surface, yeah, it seems hard to believe... but
given the complex nature of current flow, signal propagation, electron movement, etcetera, I'd be foolish to deny the possibility. After all, I do know that very slight changes in a system can be audible.
However, I do agree with you that the "break in" (acclimation) occurring between a listener's ears is of a much greater magnitude than anything that could happen with a cable. The most tweakable component in an audio system IS the listener!
This line of thinking gets us no where in the progession of mankind. We think we can prove at least a certain number of variables therefore it is true. Oh shit we have a new machine that tells us so much more, we had better come up with a new hypothesis to cover our asses.
I could go on and on but the point is very simple. If you do not know all the variables, and or combinations of them, you do not know the complete answer. So I guess we can stop the progession of science and technology now, because we have all the answers, machines, and test procedures.
I do feel so sorry for the Eastern medicine people. They do not get the Cut and Burn technology of Western medicine. Did I forget the profit motive. There I go again not realizing a few years in college gives us a understanding of Infinity. But, it is done with a wink and a nod.
I think Alan Watts wrote " I do not know what I am more upset about Judgemetal people or my Judgement of Judgemetal people." Guess if I understood the quote I would have not written all this stuff.
Well it is time to break in my new DIY phono pre, with more tube rect power supplies than any one would need. Should of use transistors and diodes, they measure so much better.( With a wink and a nod.)
... the break-in of a pair of Gallo Reference 3 speakers. Or practically anything (e.g., the Ack dAck 2.0) with teflon capacitors. The analogy with alternative medicine is pretty hysterical, though.
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