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Thread: Burn-in or gradually getting accustomed to the sound?

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

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    I'm Alex.

    Question Burn-in or gradually getting accustomed to the sound?

    Five days ago I replaced my Rega RB300 tonearm with Jelco 750E. The sound changed immediately, and I interpreted the change as being a staggering improvement. I was immediately able to hear many previously never heard details, plus the overall sound became much more authoritative and natural.

    I had a good fortune to be able to spend the past five days listening to a lot of LPs, enjoying the new configuration. Then, after about two or three days of dedicated listening, I began noticing how the sound changes. The sound started becoming less in-your-face analytical and gradually morphed into a much more relaxed, silky and sweet presentation.

    I was amazed by the transformation -- it is precisely how I'd like my turntable to sound. But then I started wondering -- what is it in the chain that is now burning-in? Conventional wisdom claims that tonearms need no burn-in time, so what could it be?

    Then it dawned on me -- I've added high quality brand new Nagaoka cables to connect Jelco with the phono stage. So could it be that Nagaoka cables are gradually burning in? I am not a believer in cable burn-in, so I immediately became skeptical of that hypothesis.

    Then it dawned on me again -- maybe it's just me, my ears gradually getting used to the new configuration? And as I'm getting accustomed to the brand new sound, I'm beginning to perceive it as more pleasant, more familiar, smoother, more liquid and less granular?

    So maybe this entire burn-in principle is merely an urban myth, and what's actually going on during the burn-in period is our listening getting accustomed to the new configuration?

    Anyone had similar experiences?
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  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2013

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    Oh dear. Get out your flak jackets. Lol

    Not a big believer either but Ive no evidence either way. Could be both but cables do sound different
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  3. #3
    Join Date: Apr 2012

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    I'm Geoff.

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    I'm inclined to think a lot of what is perceived as burn in is a combination of the acclimatising period to a changed sound and maybe fanciful thinking. I'm sure mechanical devices like transducers (speakers/cartridges) have a loosening up period and possibly valves, capacitors and transistors may have a settling spell. But cables? If something in them changes during use, I'd suggest they are probably faulty and possibly no longer meeting spec due to defective materials or design.

    So there!

  4. #4
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

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    I'm openingabottleofwine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    I personally think a lot of what is perceived as burn in is a combination of the acclimatising period to a changed sound and fanciful thinking. I'm sure mechanical devices like transducers (speakers/cartridges) have a loosening up period and possibly valves, capacitors and transistors may have a settling spell. But cables? If something in them changes during use, I'd suggest they are probably faulty and possibly not meeting spec due to defective materials or design.

    So there!
    Good post.

    Certainly electrolytic capacitors need to be 'formed' from new, but those using a non-polar dielectric do not. If they do, then logic dictates coaxial cables ought to as well. I don't believe they do - but then I don't believe cables have a sound of their own.
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  5. #5
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

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    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by struth View Post
    Oh dear. Get out your flak jackets. Lol

    Not a big believer either but Ive no evidence either way. Could be both but cables do sound different
    True, no doubt different cables tend to sound different. My inquiry is more pertaining to once we install a new cable, and acknowledging that it changes the sound, any subsequent perception of ongoing change (usually attributed to the nebulous 'burn in' phenomenon) could be explained away by us getting gradually acclimatized to the new sound.

    But what do I know?
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  6. #6
    Join Date: May 2010

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    Good post.

    Certainly electrolytic capacitors need to be 'formed' from new, but those using a non-polar dielectric do not. If they do, then logic dictates coaxial cables ought to as well. I don't believe they do - but then I don't believe cables have a sound of their own.
    I agree. Cables cannot conceivably have a sound of their own.

    However, same as removing the dirt from the window pane does not add any details to the scenery outside, removing faulty/noisy cables from our system does not add any details to the recorded signal.
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

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  7. #7
    Join Date: Apr 2012

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    I don't believe cables have a sound of their own.
    What cables do have is a negative impact on the system sound. In other words, cables are a necessary evil, but you can't use your gear without them. Those perceived as 'sounding good' are those that have the least discernible detrimental effect.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Apr 2012

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    I'm Geoff.

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    I see Alex has said something quite similar.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Oct 2017

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    I'm Svend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    What cables do have is a negative impact on the system sound. In other words, cables are a necessary evil, but you can't use your gear without them. Those perceived as 'sounding good' are those that have the least discernible detrimental effect.
    +1 After much fussing around with cables, including quite a bit of DIY stuff, I have come around to realizing what Geoff says is true.

    Alex, back to your original question...are you using a new cartridge with the Jelco, or one of your two existing ones? Assuming the latter, how many hours did you have on it before swapping it to the new arm? It's my understanding that most or all cartridges need a fair bit of run in time. I suppose how long that would be depends on the cartridge at hand. Could it be that either your Denon or Ortofon were not fully broken in before moving to the Jelco, and what you're hearing is the cartridge changing its sound? Makes sense if both were relatively new before you bought the Jelco. Others here can better advise as to how long a break-in period normally lasts.

  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2010

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    I'm Alex.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Svend N View Post
    +1 After much fussing around with cables, including quite a bit of DIY stuff, I have come around to realizing what Geoff says is true.

    Alex, back to your original question...are you using a new cartridge with the Jelco, or one of your two existing ones? Assuming the latter, how many hours did you have on it before swapping it to the new arm? It's my understanding that most or all cartridges need a fair bit of run in time. I suppose how long that would be depends on the cartridge at hand. Could it be that either your Denon or Ortofon were not fully broken in before moving to the Jelco, and what you're hearing is the cartridge changing its sound? Makes sense if both were relatively new before you bought the Jelco. Others here can better advise as to how long a break-in period normally lasts.
    That's a very good point, Svend. Right now I'm using Ortofon OM20 which's been in constant use for the past three weeks or so. By now, I'd think it has already fully burned-in, but may the settling in process takes longer with that particular cartridge?

    I remember last year with Denon DL-103 it took between 20 to 50 hours (approximately) until the cartridge settled in and since that point on it completely stopped changing its signature sound. I have already raked up over 50 hours with OM20 (methinks), so maybe it's still settling in?
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

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