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snake oil?
snake oil?
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Old 11th July 2015, 11:52 AM   #1
mikenoble is offline mikenoble  United Kingdom
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Default snake oil?

Does anyone have an valid physical explanation of why speaker and interconnect cables need running in. Also told recently that amp needed running in due to capacitors, always been my understanding that caps charge up quickly, and get worse with age. ???
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Old 11th July 2015, 12:16 PM   #2
Killingbeans is offline Killingbeans  Denmark
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A potential minefield

I wouldn't call it "snake oil", since nobody is selling break-in as a product (?).

I'd say that 99% of all break-in is a mental component, but a lot op people would disagree. It's one of those things that borderlines something not allowed to be discussed on this forum.

Last edited by Killingbeans; 11th July 2015 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 11th July 2015, 12:18 PM   #3
Charles Darwin is offline Charles Darwin  United Kingdom
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Snake oil indeed.

There is no valid physical explanation for cable burn in.

There might be a financial one if the seller has a 30-day return policy and their purported burn in takes on average 31 days or more.
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Old 11th July 2015, 12:25 PM   #4
poynton is offline poynton  United Kingdom
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Originally Posted by Killingbeans View Post
A potential minefield

I wouldn't call it "snake oil", since nobody is selling break-in as a product (?).


Oh. but they do !!!!!

Isotek Full System Enhancer CD | eBay

TELLURIUM Q System Enhancement CD | Cable & System Burn In/Tune Up | eBay
If it ain't broke, break it !! Then fix it again. It's called DIY !
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Old 11th July 2015, 02:19 PM   #5
wwenze is offline wwenze  Singapore
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It's not sold as a product because it's more of a service. You can buy the equipment too however.

Nordost Vidar Cable Burn-In Service - MCRU
Take Five Audio - Canada's Online Source For DIY Audio, Parts and Accessories - Cable burn-in

I like to whip my speaker cables around a few times, helps keep the electrons from getting stuck.
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Old 11th July 2015, 02:44 PM   #6
Conrad Hoffman is offline Conrad Hoffman  United States
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AFAIK, there is no measurement that suggests the phenomena exists, so a physical explanation isn't needed.
I may be barking up the wrong tree, but at least I'm barking!
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Old 11th July 2015, 04:43 PM   #7
James A is offline James A  United States
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For any kind of serious discussion on the subject I would think first any participant in the discussion would need to state if they can hear differences from one cable to another when connected to their audio system. If those that do not hear any differences in cables, for them, any cable break-in, burn-in, discussion would be futile imo.

For those that do hear differences in cables, that are connected to their audio equipment, then the listener needs to establish a baseline for any true listening test to determine if a cable changes its' SQ character after a burn-in period, imo.

Baseline? The listener needs to use a reference cable he can use throughout the burn-in period process of the virgin new out of the package cable.

I would think the vast majority of us know how our audio system sounds with its' present cabling. I would be willing to bet the listener knows in short order if something sounds different from what they are normally used to hearing from their system.

So for those of you that are in agreement so far if you were to change out the existing PC, power cord, that feeds the CDP with a new aftermarket PC you will hear a difference between the two PC cables from your audio system. Write the differences on a piece of paper for future reference as you proceed though the burn-in process of the new PC. (Of course for you believers that know from experience it can take forever to burn-in some aftermarket PCs on a CDP and so you hook up the PC to a piece of equipment or appliance that draws more current. Example, a refrigerator or dehumidifier.

After a couple of days the new cable with 48 hours of burn-in time is then hooked back up to the CDP. The listener then listens again for differences between his baseline reference PC and the new PC with 48 burn-in hours now on it. Compare the differences to his previous notes. You may have had to repeat the burn-in process a few more times.

I bought a KimberKable PK 10 that has a WG 330i plug and a WG 350i IEC connector, about a couple of years ago, that took forever to burn-in, break-in. For a burn-in load I used a dehumidifier that has an FLA of about 4+ amps at 120V. The baseline PC was a PS audio Plus cable.

As for some test equipment measurements that will show the differences from new to burn-in such test equipment may not yet exist. That does not mean differences do not exit. There is plenty of theory out there to read on cable burn-in though.

Food for thought, what test equipment measurements can be provided that will show why early 1960s Amperex PQ white label 6922 tubes sound better than current production EH 6922 tubes in say a preamp?

Can test equipment measurements be provided showing why some coupling caps sound better than others? How about resistors of the same type and tolerance ratings of different manufactures?


John Curl Interview

Also, we couldnít use mylar capacitors, which are fairly efficient
coupling capacitors. While mylars are fairly efficient from a size and cost
point of view, we realized they have problems with dielectric absorption. I
didnít believe it at first. I was working with Noel Lee and a company
called Symmetry. We designed this crossover and I specified these one
microfarad Mylar caps. Noel kept saying he could 'hear the caps' and I
thought he was crazy. Its performance was better than aluminum or
tantalum electrolytics, and I couldnít measure anything wrong with my
Sound Technology distortion analyzer. So what was I to complain about?
Finally I stopped measuring and started listening, and I realized that
the capacitor did have a fundamental flaw. This is were the ear has it all
over test equipment. The test equipment is almost always brought on line
to actually measure problems the ear hears. So weíre always working in
reverse. If we do hear something and we canít measure it then we try to
find ways to measure what we hear. In the end we invariably find a
measurement that matches what the ear hears and it becomes very
obvious to everybody.


Pages 15/18 and 16/18
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Old 11th July 2015, 05:12 PM   #8
billshurv is offline billshurv  United Kingdom
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snake oil?
So for a serious discussion you have to believe these differences are audible and not expectation and then the whole world of audiophoolery is open to you?

Some cables do make a difference, but the reason is easily measured with basic test equipment. No magic.

As for burn in, what is burning in? The electronics are just wiggling about within a few mm of cable. There is no metallurgy that needs aging. Nothing changes so why should the sound. No one has ever come up with a credible reason for this outside the mind.
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Old 11th July 2015, 06:02 PM   #9
Conrad Hoffman is offline Conrad Hoffman  United States
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Location: Canandaigua, NY USA
It makes sense to say, "I hear something", and then go look for it with test equipment. In general, if you can hear it, you can measure it easily. There is no "Factor X" that is somehow audible, yet can't be measured.

I will concede that some 4d phenomena like soundfields are so complex that figuring out what the data means is very difficult. We can certainly say why one tube is different than another, but better/worse is up to you. As for Mylar caps, that one is obvious by several different means- I did it this way. Just skip to the end and look at the pictures.

Unfortunately, many other things, where I've been sure a difference existed, like conductor materials and low level ICs, evaporated like the smile of the Cheshire Cat the more controlled the tests became. The brain is too easily fooled.
I may be barking up the wrong tree, but at least I'm barking!
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Old 12th July 2015, 02:47 AM   #10
jameshillj is offline jameshillj  Australia
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One of the most annoying things about some people that can't hear differences in cables, components, break-in, etc is just how intolerant/abusive they can be - it seems to be their obligation to convince everyone of the 'error of their ways' and are fools to be 'taken in' by charlatans and crooks - scientific tests, 'peer review', self-delusion, work experience, etc usually added somewhere!

No doubt, some of it is quite true and some has not yet been understood, and I think the term 'snake oil' should be reserved for those products &/or services that are clearly shown to be fraudulent, not just unproven.

There's a 'discussion' going on in another thread about possible Bybee products being 'fraud' and it's raised a whole lot of ire and condemnation - no evidence at all about any possible fraud (money back guarantee, etc) but a whole lot about why the products couldn't possibly work at all, hence the term 'snake-oil' - it obvious that engineers and scientists can be just as 'bloody minded' and irrational as anyone else.

Off the subject a bit, it seems that the ability to 'listen better' has become the 'holy grail' of audiophiles and some people have developed their listening ability (not just hearing) to the point that they can not only discern small differences in component changes, room acoustics, etc but are able to accurately describe them - true 'Golden Ears', not that common (most people have 'blind spots' somewhere, some more than others, including musicians)
However, this enhanced ability to 'listen better' can have a definite 'downside' in that there's an automatic focus on what's wrong with the reproduction instead of appreciating the music, warts and all - 'critical listening' can easily extend to 'critical person' in lots of other areas and it can become a real problem for personal relationships, for example.
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