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Monty
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My speakers have finally disappeared!

Picked up my new cables and interconnects today. The wide, expansive soundstage that I have become used to with my old cables is now about the size of a manilla folder hoovering about 2 feet above my rack.

Breaking-in new cables is true audio Hell and should be done while on vacation, away from home.

While I was out, I picked up the new T. Monk and J. Coltrane at Carnagie Hall cd. As tempting as it is to play it, I'm going to wait a few days.

jdm56
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Re: My speakers have finally disappeared!

How do you know when a cable is broken in?
I'm not trying to be a smarty-pants, I am just curious, because I don't believe I can hear any difference in cables, as a rule. Then again, my system's pedigree is not too impressive.

Monty
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Re: My speakers have finally disappeared!

The length of time it takes for a cable to cook depends on the construction and design of the cable. However, a general rule of thumb is around 200 hours and subtle changes extending for considerably longer. Some cable manufacturers claim as little as a few hours and some as much as 600 hours.

As for how you know when your cables have burned-in completely, it is as simple as no longer hearing changes in sonic characteristics from day to day.

Personally, I find that when higher notes on piano music begin to have a more natural timbre it is usually a good sign that the cable is arriving. I must confess that I have only had experience with 6 brands of cable in my system and all were the lower to middle of the price range so this is purely subjective on my part.

Buddha
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Re: My speakers have finally disappeared!

If it can take 600 hours to break in a cable, then how on earth do manufacturers ever make design decisions? No matter what they do, it'd be 600 hours before they could ever find out what's really happening with a cable.

Do they sell products based on a wine making tradition, "I think it should sound right in 600 hours, take my word for it. It's worked that way for me before?"

OK for vino, not for cable.

Think about that for a minute. It would take nearly four weeks (24 days or soo at 24-7)to burn in a cable before they could listen and see what they had accomplished.

Do they go to work each morning and listen to a cable that has been burning in for a month in order to make decisions for the coming day?

They must have giant banks of hi-fi equipment doing 24-7 burn-ins to be able to get a single product to market!

On the plus side...If you go to a cable manufacturer's place of business and don't see the resources necessary to support such a huge burn-in program, I guess you'd know they were not on the up and up. Think about: turns per inch, strand size and number, shape of the wire, terminations, coating - that would use up alot of testing equipment to develop and entire line. They must have dozens of hi-fis going full tilt round the clock to get all that burning in done and get a product to market. No wonder they charge so much! Think about the outlay and energy costs associated with getting two dozen Halcro amps, Wilson speakers, and front ends to condition however many trials of each cable they are making, and then listen to each one!

A 600 hour lag between design desicions, wow. Why haven't we ever heard cable companies talk about the difficulties of working with a product that takes a nearly a month of non-stop play before they can judge the quality of their work?

There should be pictures.

I'll be back, I gotta go see if "PT Barnum Cable and Interconnect" has been trademarked yet.

Apologies for the cynicism. When I hear certain cable talk, sometimes that song lyric from The Simpsons starts to take over...."Monorail, monorail....."

Monty
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Re: My speakers have finally disappeared!

I'm not qualified to explain the technology of cable and component interface, though I have read a fair amount of information that explains the reason for audible differences and the theory behind various designs. Strictly from my limited experience evaluating various cables, I'm coming from the position that they can make a tremendous amount of difference in the sound and either add or remove distortion at various points within the audible bandwidth.

Having experienced several burn-in periods of cables, I am also suggesting that audible changes occur within the interface over considerable periods of time. For example, the cables I am currently breaking in as indicated by my original post are still settling in and haven't reached their final sound compared to the well used demos that I borrowed to audition before purchasing. Where the demos took about 24 hours of current to arrive, the new cables have been cooking for just short of 100 hours and still have room to come in. The bass hasn't completely filled in and the focus continues to come and go, though the over-all sonic characteristics have come a long way from initial installation.

My point is that hearing differences over 1 or 2 hundred hours of use predisposes me to give the cable designers the benefit of the doubt on their recommended cooking time for their specific cables.

Don't mistake my insistence of audible gains to be had with cables with anything that even comes close to defending 4 figure price tags on wire. The cable manufacturers stay in business by selling the modest stuff and if ever there were an example of cost not equating to better sound, it's in the cable business. In fact, every cable review should start with the words "distortion can be your friend!" I say this in all seriousness because spending big bucks to get the most neutral cable available will make 75% of most people's systems sound worse by revealing shortcomings in the equipment that can be masked with distortion and produce a more agreeable sound. The trick is in finding out what your system's weaknesses are and pairing up with appropriate cables...often times the really reasonably priced stuff.

Just as with other parts of the playback chain, numerous variables preclude anyone from saying xyz company's so-and-so cable is the best, but by identifying the cables sonic signature you can generate a short list of wire to evaluate within a given system. If, however, you are of the opinion that cabling is a bunch of hokus pokus, then I would simply encourage you to consider that you just might be...wrong.

k512
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Re: My speakers have finally disappeared!

Monty, I'm curious as to the cables you purchased, as well as how they're now sounding after a few weeks of cooking? Best holiday wishes.

Kurt

Monty
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Re: My speakers have finally disappeared!

Hey Kurt, I ended up dating them instead of marrying them. My budget gear was ultimately outclassed by the revealing cables.

It ain't the first time (and may not be the last) I've come crying home to mamma PBJ and Type 4.

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