Ahhhh...breaking in a cartridge.


While I'm pretty sure most loudspeakers and components do have some break in period, I KNOW cartridges do break in because I've heard the diminishment of surface noise (and other stuff, which may be more subjective) over time. 

I'm breaking in a new Audio Technica ART9 cartridge.  I'm 5 hours in and my ear is either getting used to it or it's sounding better. :)  This is not much time, I know.  I am trying to listen to the same records (about 5 albums) over and over, of which I'm well familiar to see how things go.  If I had to sum up the break in thusfar in one statement I'd say things don't sound as tight and reserved. 

By the way, this cartridge is going to be killer.  It's tonal balance is superb.  Not one region of the spectrum is emphasized. 
jbhiller
I'm in the same boat as you with an ART-9. Just recently switched over from a DV 17d3 and could not be happier. 

Cartridge break-in is real, but the progress has its ups and downs. It's different for every cartridge but for my ART-9 it actually got dull for a few hours between 8-10 for me. Started opening up again after that.

The most significant break-in I've ever experienced with a cartridge was with a soundsmith. I remember when it opened up around the 50hr mark and my jaw dropped while listening to Random Access Memories. Years later, while my system has well surpassed the quality that I had with the soundsmoth, I'm hoping that the ART-9 does that to me too!
With all the praise and gushing the ART 9 has earned over these last couple years, imagine the hysteria it will cause for owners if AudioTechnica releases an MKII NEW AND IMPROVED version.


Its been done with all their popular carts, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time...

Theres a huge price gap between the ART 9 and the ART 1000, so maybe there is something on the drawing board that kills all those Lyra,Koetsu and other exotics.

Im approaching the 2 year mark, and too comfortable with mine, about time to blow the refund check!

Enjoy the music, gentlemen.
Break in times, especially carts, suck.
why not to record those 5 albums on tape or digitally during "break-in period" and then realize what is break-in (if you have not changed cartridge settings) by listening documented material, not your memory. If it works the last file must be much better than first file. 

Carts ''tuning'' seems to be the prerogative of ''carts masters''.

This imply that those ''masters '' are clairvoyant because they

know how their cart will sound ,say, 100 hour later. The question is

what their  tuning means. To my knowledge only Van den Hul is

willing to (re) adjust his carts after 300 hour of use. Why should

he do this? Is he less clairvoyant than his copmetitors? My guess

is that people accomodate to a particular sound and think that

not their hearing but the cart changed. ''Self-deception'' is the

name of this phenomena.

@tablejockey 

I agree wholeheartedly!  I love your posts.  Your positivism is just what is needed on the forums!

I'd love to try an "exotic" cart next to this ART9.  I scooped mine from LP gear for $900.  This cart is a steal at the price.  

One thing that I really like is the evenness of this thing.  That will keep me listening for long periods and avoid a honeymoon phase, wearing off to reveal weaknesses.  

Oh, this thing tracks amazingly well.  It handled the antibiasing torture tracks on my setup record better than my Ortofon 2M Black and Dynavector 20XH.
You should recheck the setup parameters after the cartridge breaks in...the suspension will be in a different place.
Thanks for the reminder stringreen!
Stringreen said

You should recheck the setup parameters after the cartridge breaks in...the suspension will be in a different place.

Great point and often overlooked.  I checked and adjusted mine at 50 hours and just checked again yesterday at 200 hours.  No changes.

Enjoy the tunes while it breaks in!
@nandric 

My guess is that people accomodate to a particular sound and think that not their hearing but the cart changed. ''Self-deception'' is the name of this phenomena.

I think after a glass of white wine all my cartridges sounds better, Nikola. 

Dear Chakster, The Germans are not known as people with any

sense for humor. Anyway that is what all Dutch think.  However they

 invented this saying: ''Wein,Weiber und Gesang'' ( wine, women and

music). I do believe that your carts sound better with wine but hope

for you that their suspension are in the same place as before.

According to me our dear stringreen drunk to much wine by his

last post (grin). There are those difficult to understand conditions.

Some of them are regarded as ''necessary'' the other as ''suficient''.

I am not sure which to apply to you and which to stringreen .

Everyone who was mixing a song over a period of a few hours and listened to this a few days later, knows that our ear accustoms quite strong to a frequency response. I will not say that anyone is wrong here, but think about it.

Sorry for spelling, i am German :-)

Edit: And we hear not as good as every day. Temperature und humidity also brings some changes. To evaluate a cartridge it needs a longer time as a few hours.
It would be nice to have a counter on our 'tables so it could keep track of hours for us. I mounted my Sumiko over a year ago, but I couldn't begin to wager a guess of how many hours I've used it? Most likely less than I think. Does it sound better than when first mounted? I've changed cables, a new amp in my rig, even a new CD player, I honestly have no frame of reference to tell? But, it may sound better, and surely doesn't sound worse. It was a major step up from my previous cart, so I was pretty impressed when it was first mounted. But, what I have gained from this discussion is that I need to go back and refresh my setup. Now that the suspension has softened up a bit the tracking angle must have changed. Here's a question for you contributors, what is your favorite setup record? I've always worked by eye and ear, a setup disc could improve my accuracy. 

"alpha_gt129 posts02-20-2017 2:31amIt would be nice to have a counter on our 'tables so it could keep track of hours for us"

I use one of these. A click per record side. About 20 minutes. Not perfect, but close enough for me. Also useful for tracking when to change fluid in record cleaning machines. Great cheap audio accessory.

https://www.amazon.com/GOGO-Counter-Carnival-Manual-Mechanical/dp/B001KX1VW2


I have the same. If i sell a cartridge, i can honest say how many LP´s are played with it.
@nandric 

 ''Wein,Weiber und Gesang'' ( wine, women and music).


That's a proper warm up! 
alpha_gt I will bet your cartridge does not have near the hours you think it does.  Jperry has a great idea, I do something similar - I just mark down everytime I put an album on and count it as 20 minutes - not scientific but close.  It took me about 2 years to get 200 hours on my current cartridge - basically about 600 album sides.