Cable burn in

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!

@Graham I doubt the ‘current thinking’ has progressed significantly beyond these. Happy reading!

Interesting, thanks.

It’s possible to enjoy music through it AND have a questioning mind, they’re not mutually exclusive :wink:


Very philosophical. Do cables still burn in if no one is listening to them?!? :slight_smile:



I am becoming more convinced that fresh solder joints need about 6-8 hours to sound right… I have adjusted my treble level recently, this involves unsoldering one resistor and replacing for another. All of which are considered to be “run in” but for some reason this fresh solder joint seems to need a little time to sound smooth again. Might just be me but it seems to be the same every time. Weird. I am definitely of the opinion that cables sound different but not sure about an old for new of the same type… never tried that.


I should resist the temptation to jump into the snake pit.

But the thing that strikes me about this topic is a presumption thatve observer’s hearing is a constant. Shouldn’t all observations come with a disclaimer that one’s ears might have been having an off day? Or for that matter that the listening environment was somehow different? (Humidity, temperature, background noise, etc.)

I am not satisfied that the claim “it sounded different” can be attributed to one factor (such as the cable) and dismissing these other variables.


Yes I agree it is definitely a strange topic. I have been convinced that a change of cables caused a distinct improvement only to swap back months later and be convinced of the reverse. Sometimes I think the brain perceives changes and we immediately search for, and affirm the changes to be positive.

In my system I have a set of silver plate cables and a set of pure copper. I am 90% sure that I could pick which was on in a blind test. I always end up with the copper on because it sounds warmer. The silver sounds a tad thin on male voices. Particularly on the Atom.

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Happy to be convinced by burning in (as I was for cable dressing and getting a Fraim) so there may actually be something in this idea of burning in.

My take on it is that gives the manufacturers a get-out when you get it home and it doesn’t sound as great as the demo in the shop or the expected uplift from the new cable that everyone on here raved about is missing - ‘course it doesn’t sound great yet, it needs nn hours to burn in before you get the full effect’, nn hours being an arbitrary value that’s long enough for your ears to get used to the sound and for you to be happy with it having convinced yourself that it has indeed improved.


All my current cables were demoed at home with well run versions. When I received the new ones they all sounded different to the ones demoed… not massively but there was a digital, edgy brightness that wasn’t there with the demoed versions.

I tend to run them in overnight, swap the originals back during the day and give the new ones a quick listen every 24-48hrs or so to see how they’re sounding.

I’ve no idea whether it’s a burning in thing or not but I’ve generally found new gear and most cables to need some run in time, especially silver ones, before they sound their best.

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If you put them in a fire, probably - but beware possible toxic fumes.

I have an open mind about whether cable burn in is needed or not. As someone who comes from a background where research and evidenced based practice was a part of my working day, I think there probably needs some research into this to find out whether and/or how much the effect is. Maybe a RCT (randomised control trial) methodolgy could work but would be expensive to undertake.

A user can experiment this with two identical cables, same cable, same plugs.

One of them connected and playing for one month, and the other in the box like new. Then listen to both after 30 days and take their conclusions.

I have two Heimdall 2 Nordost power cables in my system . One for my integrated amp and the other in my Naim Ndac. When I first put the system together I only had one one of these cables used in the amp and the Ndac used an older Nordost power cable. Several months later when the second Heimdall 2 power cable was installed I did try to investigate if I could hear any differences to the fresh out the box one to the other one that had been running.
I found using the fresh one on the source/dac and the older one on the amp sounded after an extended listening to be a little shouty, some aspects seemed brittle and lacking a nimbleness but had more obvious bass. Using the older one on the dac and the fresh one on the amp seemed much more nimble and smoother, a little lacking in dynamics but without any obvious boost in any frequencies.
This was a few years ago and any swap around today has no detectable differences.
My take that it could be not so much the cable burning in - more the way the cable terminates with its particular connection and settling with the transfer.
Perhaps cables with complex over engineered connections could take longer than those with just the barest essentials needed, and whether crimped or soldered

Better to have someone else swap them (or not) without the user knowing. Can the user reliably tell which is connected / whether they’ve been swapped?

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