How long should a component be broken-in before it reaches peak performance?

Reader Ron Satterly wonders whether other audiophiles consider component break-in necessary before critical listening. How long should a component be broken-in before it reaches peak performance?

How long should a component be broken-in before it reaches peak performance?
No break in is needed
16% (35 votes)
Just a brief period
14% (32 votes)
At least a week
22% (48 votes)
Several weeks
25% (56 votes)
11% (25 votes)
12% (27 votes)
Total votes: 223

TOGA's picture

Thiel CS 3.7 is unlistenable below 400 hours. Getting much better around 500 hours or six months

craig's picture

I have not had enough experience with listening to a wide variety of equipment to be able to answer. My recollection of the few pieces of equipment that I have purchased over the years is that they sounded as good right out of the box as they did after some period of use. Some might say that I just couldn't appreciate changes that actually occured or maybe the fact that I don't have super high-end equipment means not much change happened. I wouldn't argue with them, but neither would I agree with them either. I'd like to have more experience with more equipment but most likely won't in the future. A good question that might go hand-in-hand with this one is "Do really expensive cables make any difference?" I think I will just not worry about it and enjoy the music.

Ken Buell's picture

Usually good after several weeks, however expect several months before achieving peak. Also warm-up time is always critical ... at least 30 minutes & better several hours (regardless of tube or solid-state). Lastly, always play Ayre's signal conditioning CD at least weekly—yes it makes a big difference! Combined results are guaranteed to greatly enhance a good system's performance.'s picture

Of course, every component is different. What I have a problem with is the "burn-in" in general. For heaven's sake, just listen to and enjoy your component. If it gradually gets better over the intervening weeks or months, good jolly luck to you. Enjoy it, don't stress over it.

Dimitris Gogas's picture

Most of the components shouldn't need break-in. It's understandable about loudspeakers, but it always surprises me when some electronics sound better after a while. Or it's just the brain that's getting used to the sound. Who can tell for sure?

Dominique's picture

I would rather count in hours and would say, minium 50 hours, eventually 200 if tubes (new) are involved

Dakota's picture

Tubes are the only thing I consider having a break-in time, although my knowledge is limited. I just sit back and enjoy

Fearless Leader's picture

IMHO, the only break-in a component should need is a smoke test. If you turn on a component and there's no smoke, relax.

Lila's picture

At least a week, maybe two, depending on how often it's being used. Some apparently take much longer (eg, Lowther). I think it's also a matter of getting used to the sound.

Bob D's picture

I don't believe that electronics can take days or weeks to "break-in." Speakers are a different story.

JoakimL's picture

Varies a lot with components, but I will never forget the change in sound over the first week with a Moon Andromeda/P-8/W-8 setup, sounding unbelievably bad when "fresh."

Claus's picture

That depends on the component. From no break-in time to several months

ACF's picture

This is one of the great unknowables of audio. Some things sound great out of the box and "seem" to get better. Why else would you buy them if they didn't sound great out of the box to begin with?

Jim Tavegia's picture

Twenty-four hours a day, taking you to almost 200 hours. Comparing a new component, right out of the box to an old one with hundreds and hundreds of hours is not a good comparison.

James Kontol's picture

Only when mechanical such as speaker mechanics. Electrical stuff don't "break-in" and I have never studied "capacitor break-in" in my five years of EE study.

WalkerTM's picture

Depends on the gear. Some will loosen up and sound richer over time, but if it does not sound good out of the box. I leave it at the hi-fi shop.

Tim Rhudy's picture

I want to hear the break-in process as it progresses. Never quite understand those who want to bypass this process.

Paul Costa's picture

If you can't listen to it out of the box, what is the point? I do not think it will improve to the point where you will love it after the "break-in".

Al Earz's picture

Seems to depend on the component. From experience I would say that an across-the-board length of time is 300 hours. Some brands say 600, but most recently my Audio Research LS26 seemed to come out of the woods at 300.'s picture

I've had two loudspeakers that took 200 hours before they stopped getting better: Soliloquy 6.3s and a pair of Gershman Sonograms. They just kept getting better and better. Friends noticed, too.

Eric's picture

Burn-in could vary from component to component

knik's picture

I believe that most of the "burn-in" that we experience, is our ears adjusting to the sound of a component. The more time you spend listening to a system, the faster your senses will get accustomed to the sound. That's just my viewpoint on the matter.

chuck's picture

About 100 hours.

rpeluso's picture

Not a lot of change after an hour, in my experience.

Stephan's picture

Burn-in time is very much dependent on the component . All electronics with capacitors need some days, cables can be burned in within hours, speakers may take some weeks

Glenn Bennett's picture

If such a thing really works who knows? Wouldn't it depend on what type of component it is and the related equipment?

Glenn's picture

Depends on the component.

Alessandro Mol Luce's picture

Fifty to 100 hours of test/burn-in CDs, plus a lot of rock and classic music with loud dynamic range, at moderate-high to high volume (85~95dB)!

Noam's picture

If it is a cable, then break takes 24 hours less than the duration of the full refund period. For capacitors, it depends on the brand

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

As long as it takes.