Cable burn in

Wondering what the current thinking is around cable burn in/run in and what’s actually happening during this process?

I switched an existing Naim cable for a third party demo one which had been run in by the dealer. My immediate reaction was that it sounded significantly better; more delicate treble; better control and clarity across the whole frequency range. Several days further listening convinced me that it was better, not just different.

Ordered one and for one day I switched back to the original Naim cable. It sounded worse, muddier presentation, somewhat stodgy.

Brand new cable arrived. Sounds better than the original Naim one but not as good as the demo cable. Presentation is a little rougher around the edges, lacks some of the nuances of the demo one.

So from a listening POV definitely different, but what causes this? What are the theories?

Did you test blind - i.e. with someone else swapping the cabkes randomly? Is the new cable definitely the identical construction to the quite a bit older one (e.g not a revised version, or manufacturer not changed source of materials etc - there have been lots of changes to supply during COVID).

No, didn’t blind test given I’m the only one around to swap them over.

The demo cable is at most a couple of months old so wouldn’t expect there to be any differences. The documents that came with it said to allow up to 100 hours to run in.

I did have to power down the 300DRs and mute the S1 pre, however that was for max five minutes and I installed the cable at 10AM and didn’t listen to it until 8PM, so unlikely down to that.

Is it consistent on multiple swaps? (Ears aren’t a constant.)

I don’t have the demo cable any more as I’ve returned it.

Am I reading your comments right that you are skeptical regarding burn in then?

Where is that popcorn when you need it?


Whatever gave you that impression?! Many claims, but interestingly I think yours is the first description I’ve encountered where a new and old gave been directly compared [almost]- normally it is only comparing with a memory, sometimes supplemented by verbal description. It is easy to do, though ideally requires buying two cables at the same time and verify that they sound the same, then put one to one side and not use it until the working one has had time to “burn in”. But blind testing is rather important to be sure the mind isn’t playing tricks because of course it can, and you never know when it may without a reference point.

This is one of the most controversial topics in hi-fi so i don’t expect that you will get any helpful answer here.

Personally i don’t care about cable burn-in because my brain, my state of mind etc. influence the sound of a system much more than any not explicable science in cable burn-in. Psychoacoustics is an important part of any hi-fi but is ignored by many.

When a cable manufacturer advises 100 hours of burn-in i read: allow your brain about 100 hours to get used to the small differences and then evaluate if you like it.


Does the popcorn taste better if it’s been used a bit first? :slight_smile:


Yes, appreciate that blind testing is more reliable but as explained not feasible here.

I do realise that this is a divisive topic and I’m not trying to confirm or deny its existence and neither am I trying to change opinion.

Really what I was interested in are the theories behind it, from those that do think it’s a thing.

Or get used to it and not reject it as a direct comparison may cause you to. And that of course may apply to far more than cables - though some things undoubtedly can change with use especialy where physical flexing is involved, or significant temperature change when in use.

I won’t offer theories as I have none (and have little regard for some theories I’ve read regarding cables burning in), however my curiosity was piqued because yours seemed to offer closer to objective observation than most. (And just as you weren’t trying to change opinion, I wasn’t refuting your observation but seeking clarity as to circumstances and how objective it might be.)

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I’ve been reading hifi forums for long enough to know that there is no hifi ditch worth dying in when you could be enjoying listening to music. I am sometimes mildly amused that religious discussions are banned on this forum but that discussions of cables etc. are, in principle, fine, when the latter can easily become just as divisive and dogmatic as the former.

But I digress:

A physical process which will happen in a stranded cable as it has an AC signal passed through it is that the individual strands will attract and not-attract each other with every AC cycle. If the cable has been left with stresses in it as a result of the manufacturing process, this cycling of attracting and not-attracting could reduce these stresses which, in turn, could change the electrical characteristics of the cable. This, in turn, could be audible.

Note to argumentative readers: I have very intentionally couched that explanation very conditionally. I have also not ventured a personal opinion on the matter. Bear that in mind before you waste your time and effort shouting at me.



Just play music through it… After a while it’ll be just like the demo. There are lots of theories… Honestly it doesn’t matter, it just is.


Maybe the answer is if you want it to burn in it will, if you don’t it won’t …unless you’re unlucky!

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I have here some audioquest power, speaker, and interconnect cables, I do not know for sure the effects of burn in, but in some cases the sensation of losing some initial harshness come to my mind.

But the differences are not night and day, so just plug it in and never worry about it if they result out of the box.

On the other side like amplifiers the burnin can make a huge difference over the first week or two.

Cable burn in is absolutely true I’m surprised it is even being discussed now

As Niels Bohr showed in his seminal work, electrons, when passing through a conductor, say copper wire, they are met by resistance. If the copper molecule does not know the electron he says “wait”. “Who are you”. The electron has to explain until the copper molecule says ok. Delaying transmission. But after some months the wire just lets the electrons pass. Most definitely. And yes, really expensive Fraim racks will shorten break in time. But not to zero. You also need a separate electricity generator for your stereo. Don’t even get me going on pumping argon gas into your listening room


Here we go again


Another cable thread… here we go…

Cable threads are to audiophiles what oil threads are to gear heads!