Burn in?

Has anyone ever tried a cable or box and thought it was on balance significantly worse than the previous cable or box - but then kept running power/music through it and eventually it sounded on balance significantly better than the previous cable or box?

This has never happened to me - not even close.

If it did happen, would this qualify as a proof of ‘burn in’? (And/or self-delusion!?)

Could burn in (to the extent that it exists in any particular case) be a series of different factors including:

  • the new item literally warming up in temperature as electricty runs through it, often for the first time?
  • other changes caused by electricity and EM noise running through the item?
  • the new item changing how it works with other parts over time?
  • the new item ‘settling into place’ in various ways - although I’m not sure what this really might consist of apart from the above?
  • the listener getting tuned into what is good and bad about the new sound, and also perhaps trying out new types of music?

I’d always be suspicious of anything that sounded worse. When I was experimenting with a couple of mains cables I bought one that sounded abysmal so I took it back and the seller said it needed 50 hours to run in. I said “no thanks” and got a refund.

My Naim Powerline Lites were fantastic from the moment they were plugged in.


At my age it’s burn-out I’m more concerned with.



JimDog, you’re on a hiding to nothing ‘proving’ anything in this area; good luck but a lot of others have gone before you.
As an electrical engineer I find it hard to come to terms with cable’s changing over time (note I did say ‘come to terms’).
I accept there is something in this with electronics, both a change in performance from new over time & with warming up from off/cold to normal temperature.
The rest IMO is a mix of expectation, resultant imagination & not forgetting all our ears & brains are unique.

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I concur with Mike-B.

You get used to things over time. That means you can grow to like the sound more, not that it actually changes, as unless you subject cables to extreme currents relative to their size, so heating them significantly, it is unlikely that usage would change anything, while any changes in cryogenically treated cables are likely to happen irrespective of usage, as they possibly return closer to how they were before the treatment.

Another factor people often forget is that ears can change in the short term, this possibly explaining the otherwise inexplicable yo-yo changes some people report - and I am not referring to long term age-related or occupational hearing loss. If you want an extreme example, just try yawning to equalise the eustation tubes some time listening to music when you have a cold and are a bit ‘bunged up’ - the before and after sound can be markedly different.

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Yes - I hadn’t thought of how much difference that can make.
Another thing that could be interpreted as burn in is that one often switches off the power amp and other boxes to put the new item in and that so there may be a so of ‘burn in’ or rewarming up of your amps after adding the new item.

Everything needs to settle, including ears, mood, boxes, cables, speakers and what not. Once settled, then one can make an assessment on how things are. Sometimes this can take a few minutes (with experience) or days (some experience) or weeks and months (learning). It’s locating what it is that’s not quite right that is key and in my experience, it’s often something very silly or over looked that does not cost a bean, just attention. As for burning in? I would not take any notice until the above is taken into account first.


I thought my system was sounding really fantastic on Monday and Tuesday, not so hot last night until I played some old Genesis streaming from Qobuz and thought it was the best I’d heard acoustic instruments on certain albums. Tonight again it’s a bit uninspiring, I really can’t explain why.

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I get that often.
Could be Friday night everyone watching telly and streaming in your 'hood?
Or not enough wine?
I would prescribe Ray Brown ‘Blues for Groundhog’:

I suggest you read George Cardas explanation on cable break-in. In a word, once you have carefully connected every thing together, leave the cables alone…


What a load of claptrap.

Many musicians leave their instruments in front of a stereo that is playing to get them to warm up.

If a cable is flexed, moved, charged, or changed in any way, it will be a while before it is relaxed again.

I must remember not to charge my cables up. :exploding_head:

Thats very polite Guinless. A previous hungry flatfish forumite used a word to describe male dangly bits, I prefer his version

What about DUST ?
An accumulation of dust on cables and boxes can rapidly bring on the onset of static that will keep them charged no matter how long left to de stress.
Seems there is a sweet spot time envelope, from taking out and cleaning everything, leaving to de stress. Then if left too long they all get stressed up.

Me too.

Yes, but it’s hi end claptrap…
Like leaving a good wine to breathe.
Or leaving a steak to rest.

Speaks the cynic:
It doesn’t need to rest!
Resting cannot increase the calorific content of the food!

Not the same at all. Wines definitely can change through the effect of oxygen when in contact with the air - though far quicker and more effectively through a process of decanting rather than just removing the cork.
And resting steak after cooking means has the effect that, unless so rare as to be ‘blue’, blood will not then drain out in an unsightly way when cut and served (or served and cut). But indeed meaningless if cooked ‘well done’.

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Well, everyone is free to believe what he wants. Cardas is a well respected audio manufacturer so I thought someone could be interested in what he says.

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Yes, yes - these things are very important.
As is leaving your hifi machines and cables to settle in various ways, from warming up, to getting run as new items, to improving in sound after switching back on (as Naim notes), to leaving the cables and kit to settle in place and gel as a system.
I enjoy the tone of Cardas, which mixes audio science, deep experience of making and using HiFi, and sonic poetry. e.g. I find his claim credible that whenever we handle and move cables we in some greater or lesser way traumatize them. One only needs to think how easy it is to break the strands of a cable by repeated movement or severe bending around tight corners to realize that is true…

Letting a good wine breathe does work:grinning: about the rest I am not sure.