How long does it take you to get an idea of a component's true musical character?

How long does it take you to get an idea of a component's true musical character?
No time---I can tell instantly
4% (8 votes)
10 minutes/1 song
13% (27 votes)
1 hour/1 CD
16% (33 votes)
1 day
15% (32 votes)
1 week
22% (46 votes)
A lot longer than that . . .
29% (61 votes)
Total votes: 207

Some people think that an audio component, like a good wine, reveals its full bouquet only when enjoyed and evaluated at length. Others think they can immediately tell whether or not a component is to their liking. Reader Federico Cribiore wants to know: How long does it takes you?

Ren's picture

Last things I purchased were speakers. I listened at length to a number of speakers. The one I chose I listened to for only one song before making up my mind. Four years later, I am still happy. Viva those Veritases!

Joel's picture

It takes me about a month before I can tell if it is something I'm going to purchace, longer the more expensive the piece is.

Nick Fulford's picture

To be honest, the amount of time it takes varies. I have heard some amplifiers (valve prototypes, mostly) that stood head and shoulders above anything I had heard to that point. At other times, where many factors other than the equipment under evaluation are affecting what I am hearing, it may take a lot longer to judge. Also, I can't ignore my own state when listening. Am I tired, hungry, unwell, feeling off, etc. Finally, living with a product often shows up faults (and virtues) that may have gone unnoticed during the initial listening sessions. Hence, there is tremendous variation for me.

Stephen Curling's picture

in order to get a full idea of musical character, the previous components' response has to be removed from the listener's mind. This takes time. Many listeners find new musical properties years after the components were purchased.

Michael Shover's picture

There's a reason that respected reviewers keep components for many days, if not weeks. Anybody who thinks components sound the same out of the box as they do a month later isn't fooling anybody.

Jeff Ringer's picture

Cables-at least 100 hours PRE/POWER and most others at least 1 week

Andy Jackson's picture

In a day's time I can play enough CD's of different types of music to get a pretty good idea of a particular piece of equipment's sonic characteristics. I also always listen to the same CD's as I am intimately familiar with their sound and imaging characteristics. This allows me to concentrate on the sonics and soundstage portrayal by the piece of equipment under consideration and not the disc. If I listen further my opinions may change a little from my initial impressions, but usually not enough to alter them completely. I can tell within a day if I am going to buy that piece of equipment or not.

Chris Rud, Maryville, TN's picture

A day usually does it for me. Of course, that day has to be spent in "my" listening room with a component that has gone through proper break-in.

Peter MacHare's picture

I've had my Meridian/Classé/Thiel setup for more than a year and it is still revealing itself to me. How long does it take to break in these babies, anyway? My Thiels are still improving, and I listen almost every day.

John Lum's picture

Most components take two months to burn in fully. I would not pass judgment until a component is fully burned in.

Priya N.  Werahera's picture

Before evaluation of any componenet (solid state or tube), I like to keep the unit ON for 8-12 hours. Then I will play some of my reference recordings to hear any differences/improvements. So 1 day is all you need.

Gordon White's picture

In a system I otherwise know and with one of my favorite recordings it doesn't take long.

Doug Bogert's picture

I need five or six good listening sessions to really get the character of a new component or tweek.I have to get to the point that I am not listening too closely and that takes a few days.( The newness has to ware off.) Doug Bogert

J.  Huget's picture

You get the general feel very quickly, but the subtleties take a little longer to find.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

The best answer I can give is-- there is no answer. Sometimes the sound is obvious-- particularly with speakers. Other times it can be very subtle, and dependent on a host of outside variables. It takes as long as it takes.

Gregg Collins's picture

It's easy to tell whether or not it sounds good; however, to tell whether or not it's a component you want to buy takes a lot longer.

Steve Dohmeyer's picture

If you haven't experienced any significant sonic differences with a piece of gear after a full day, then why bother?

Michael Crespo's picture

I can usually tell if I like a component within a week, but I believe it takes at least a few months to truly appreciate the entire scope of a component.

john geelan's picture

I believe it is true that a stereo's true character is not revealed until it has been broken in for a few months

Adam Renz's picture

Hearing the change can be almost immediate, but characterizing it takes time. I just mounted an RB300 on my AR table, using my old Blue Point, and heard a difference at once, but it took a few lps to really asses the differences, and hear that I need a new cartridge!What a great tonearm.

steve hubbs's picture

i generally force myself tolisten to at least 3 of the 5 songs i use to analyse a system in an unbiased way because the first three i go with are tattletales when a system doesnt sound right .on the flipside if a system really brings the buzz on the first cd and everything is just right then i forget about the other four cds and enjoy the first why fix what ain't broken? that criteria has helped me to enjoy audio more and develop a respect for the efforts of highe end manufacturers.

Mike Evans's picture

A change in a component's effect on the sound is usually apparent right away. Whether or not this change is really an improvement takes many listening sessions over an extended time period.

Martin Bruczkowski's picture

It all depends on the length of time between evaluating product A and product B. If it's instantenous---i.e., you can switch between them with a remote control from your listening position---most people can hear the difference immediately. If it requires lengthy installations, most listeners' aural memory is insufficient. Then, only a long time spent with a component under testing can commit its sound characteristics to their memory.

Jeffrey Bean's picture

It takes me quite a while to feel that I understand a component's nature. Auditioning a component from a dealer for only a few days just hints at what that piece sounds like. I would love to be a reviewer and get to spend months with a variety of equipment. Sounds like heaven!

Dave Ralph's picture

The time depends upon the component. Those with smaller but significant differences take longer. But once the differences are revealed, they are always apparent thereafter.

Joe Aiken's picture

I have been able to evaluate speakers quite quickly, however, other components have taken some time (and a purchase) for me to fully appreciate their nuances.

Ted Betley's picture

All good components can sound good under ideal conditions (i.e., good power line, good in-room setup, etc.). However, the ability to understand how that component may sound under adverse conditions takes time---at least a week, in my experience. This "longer time analysis" allows a listener to evaluate how robust the component is with its environment. Another factor that can impact performance is weather conditions. So one has to evaluate over varying weather conditions to get a component's true performance. Now this is only valid for somebody who cares about listening and perhaps listens every day. Then the uncontollable factors become a part of the listening reality. I have seen snap judgments made regarding some components that may have been affected by other factors. Another factor is break-in time.

Bert Cattoor's picture

It took me about one month to know my new DAC - not to mention to what degree my speakers had to burn in!

Mitch Crider's picture

Especially for equipment out of the box, no true determinations can be made within the first couple of hundred hours. Other pieces still require a period of time with different material types.

Tony Harrison, Sr.'s picture

After a full day of listening (about 8 hours), I usually have a very good idea. However, I really need an additional 2 or 3 days in order to confirm, or in some cases to unconfirm, my initial impressions.