- Nov 8, 2013
For me there have been occasions in the past where I realize that after some period of time the system really sounds better with new gear.
So what would be your recommendation for others? You leave everything on? Do you switch it off for vacation? Do you maybe know how long something can be switched off before reverting to the state from before breaking in?I am one who experiences break in changes in audio. I hear it in nearly everything, with speakers and digital gear being the most dramatic. Some linear power supplies sound good after 24 hours, digital gear and solid state generally starts to hear good after 200, but some take up to 500 to come into their own. I've heard dacs continue to change and improve up to 1,000 hours, though these are generally minor changes. For me a lot of this gear can be unlistenable until it breaks in.
I took a break from audio of about 15 years, and when I came back into it I thought it was an opportunity not to be so 'nutty' or picky about things like break in. Only to find as I started building and upgrading system with better gear, I heard the same issues with break in, isolation, power filtration, EMI etc. It kind of validated my previous experience, unfortunately. I don't want to be That guy, but deficits of these previously mentioned things really make things unlistenable for me.
I've often wondered why this is the case it affects some people and not others. I suspect that some people are more sensitive to some sorts of distortion than others. For me the type that come from lack of break in etc, really impact me viscerally, setting my teeth on edge as it were. I've also surmised that these distortions may be in the time domain more than anything. I think is a major reason I am an audiophile, to protect my psyche from these distortions, while still enjoying music.
I've read articles on the subject that focused on speaker or cable break-in, and the data indicated that any speaker performance differences after the first few minutes of use were insignificant. Measureable changes on cables due to break-in were basically non-existent. I wouldn't expect any significant measurable changes due to break-in for solid state electronics. Break-in on tube based equipment may be another story however.
My impression is that audiophiles tend to believe in the benefits of breaking in audio gear, even cables and solid state electronics, but I just haven't seen any credible measurement-based data that would justify those beliefs. IMO audiophiles would be better off focusing on things that make real & dramatic improvements to sound quality like room acoustics and room EQ solutions, rather than break-in effects.
(...) I wouldn't expect any significant measurable changes due to break-in for solid state electronics. Break-in on tube based equipment may be another story however. (...)
Couldn't agree more! There is so much subjectivity in this great hobby, yes certain aspects can be measured, but ultimately it comes down to everyones ears, equipment and their own listening environment - there are no two people with exactly the sameI had a demo model Exposure amplifier for 2 months while waiting for a new amplifier being produced in the factory, exactly the same model. When I got the new amplifier I was baffled by the difference in sound, and how much better the older amplifier that had thousands of hours on it sounded. Does this convince someone who is sceptical of break in? No. Do I care? No.
So what would be your recommendation for others? You leave everything on? Do you switch it off for vacation? Do you maybe know how long something can be switched off before reverting to the state from before breaking in?
Now I'm a believer that gear sounds better/different when warmed up. But when I hear people say something needs hundreds of hours to break in I'm not sure about that. I tend to think what happens is people get used to the sound after so many hours and it is "broken in" at that point.
I heard the exact same thing on my Rossini Apex.It’s pretty major.
When I got the APEX upgrade to my dCS Rossini, when plugged in for the first time the sound was rather bright and thin. Harsh and lacking in bass, sounding like neither the non-APEX I had been living with or the demo APEX at my dealer.
I knew it would take time to break in so I left it on being fed by a digital signal from my DISH satellite receiver.
Over the course of the next few days the warmth gradually returned, I would say it took about 50 hours to start coming back noticeably on the low end though the harshness in the highs mellowed more quickly.
By the end of the week, about 100 hours in, the bass was back, the treble wonderful and pleasant and the improvements in soundstage and focus huge.
I would also say it continued to improve slightly over the next 100 hours or so.
A lot depends upon the component; my amplifiers only took about 50 hours to really begin to sing, but my preamp probably took about a full week before it began to sound like the broken-in demo model I had auditioned in my system.
Speakers often take longer and seem to break in in a similar way - harsh and lacking in bass when new, but about after about a month of playing them 24x7 I played a track I did when they were new and was floored by bass they certainly didn’t make when new. I actually thought “where did that come from?”
I know that the light characteristics of projector lamps change significantly when they're new. That's why you shouldn't calibrate a projector until its lamp has about 100 hours of use. While a power / output tube in an amp is a different animal, they're similar in that they're both "hot filament in a vacuum tube" devices. I don't know if amplifier output tubes with their high heat change their characteristics somewhat during a break-in period, but I wouldn't be skeptical of measurement data or tube amp ABX testing that showed that.Can you explain why you expect tube amplifiers to behave differently from solid state electronics considering break-in?
I know that the light characteristics of projector lamps change significantly when they're new. That's why you shouldn't calibrate a projector until its lamp has about 100 hours of use. While a power / output tube in an amp is a different animal, they're similar in that they're both "hot filament in a vacuum tube" devices. I don't know if amplifier output tubes with their high heat change their characteristics somewhat during a break-in period, but I wouldn't be skeptical of measurement data or tube amp ABX testing that showed that.
Ignore break in and warm up if you please. If you play music eventually you will reap the benefits anyway. perhaps you can pursue a cure for your linear distortions during this period. Break in and warm up are passive events.How dare you come on here and make common sense !!
You're last sentence speaks volumes for I always laugh when some fool feels the need to tweak the tonality of the system with cables rather than proper room/speaker interaction/set up.
Another comment I couldn't agree more with Do we sometimes get side-tracked and / or miss the real point of what we are aiming for, or should be doing, I wonder?Enjoy the music.
It's no so much as to recall how it sounded first, there are certain things that chance during break in. Mostly regarding lack of bass, holography, harsh treble, unbalanced presentation. When things stabilize I do not notice further changes and then it's done. Regarding cables, the most pronounced changes (and stubborn to break in) I have experienced is with cryogenically treated cables from Argento, Furutech and Lessloss. I mean between 500-1000 hours. Most equipment sounds good after 200 hours. It's a controversial topic, and for myself I usually shy away from these discussion, because I have been ridiculed by such statement before, but whatsbestforum has been positive in this regard.The only items I feel really need time to break in (other than valves) are cartridges and speakers. I recall buying a Koetsu years ago and was particularly disappointed when listening to it initially, so much so I took it out again. After spending a good few years in its box I decided to re-install it and this time persevere. I can’t say now how long it took, but it did at some point come on song, a glorious stage and vocals to die for. Remains the best (most satisfying) cartridge I have ever owned (and the only one I have ever removed after initial installation).
I haven’t heard much change with any of the cables I have bought.
As for electronics, not really sure. I think it’s important to differentiate between break in and warm up. I seem to hear changes with all amplifiers (solid state and valve) every time I listen to them. For me, these changes are part of the warm up process and not really break in – I think I would find it impossible to recall how it sounded the very first time out of the box in comparison.
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