Cable Burn In


I'm new here and new to the audiophile world. I recently acquired what seems to be a really high end system that is about 15 years old. Love it. Starting to head down the audiophile rabbit hole I'm afraid.

But, I have to laugh (quietly) at some of what I'm learning and hearing about high fidelity.

The system has really nice cables throughout but I needed another set of RCA cables. I bit the bullet and bought what seems to be a good pair from World's Best Cables. I'm sure they're not the best you can get and don't look as beefy as the Transparent RCA cables that were also with this system. But, no sense bringing a nice system down to save $10 on a set of RCA cables, I guess.

Anyway, in a big white card on the front of the package there was this note: In big red letters "Attention!". Below that "Please Allow 175 hours of Burn-in Time for optimal performance."

I know I'm showing my ignorance but this struck me as funny. I could just see one audiophile showing off his new $15k system to another audiophile and saying "Well, I know it sounds like crap now but its just that my RCA cables aren't burned-in yet. Just come back in 7.29 days and it will sound awesome."
n80
Where did I put that can opener?
What is just as funny is that an audiophile would be sure to not show the system to another audiophile until the cable is past the 175 hour mark so only you have to hear it sound like crap... We suffer alone and only celebrate success with others. ;)
Well said @drrsutliff !

Cable burn-in is for real.  Once everything is hooked up and working, play music through the system with a CD on repeat.  After about a week the cables should be sounding their best.
I believe you. I doubt it is anything I would ever notice and it does sound like a very clever way for a cable company to excuse a bad product. I mean, how do you compare what you are hearing right now vs what you're hearing 7.29 days later? Just sayin'. But I'm an eternal skeptic.

Anyway, now I'm curious. Just what exactly is burned-in? And if something needs to be burned-in in an expensive cable, why don't they do it before they send it to you? Or maybe that's a thing. You can buy race tires for your sports car that are heat-cycled several times by the manufacturer to bring them up to peak performance.....for a few extra dollars. Of course maybe the best cable companies do this already? If not, I smell a marketing opportunity!

n80

There is a lot of dubious "wisdom" in the audiophile world.

You’ll hear people claiming "break in" is required for literally everything to sound right...even an equipment rack, or a set of isolation feet for your component. It’s a sort of self-perpetuating mythology, because when people listen for differences they *hear* differences, even if there isn’t any in reality.

So you’ll see lots of claims that things like cables need "burn in." But what you will have a hard time finding is actual objective evidence for the claim (e.g. measurements showing audible-levels of difference between a new vs burned in cable).

The Burn-In mantra has of course lots of use for manufacturers to encourage you to keep their product as long as possible. "Not impressed by our product? Don’t just return it; Keep listening...it takes hundreds of hours until it sounds right!" That’s plenty of time to acclimate, listen carefully and over time come to believe you are hearing something new.

Others will likely chime in defending cable burn-in. Meanwhile, here’s a bit of reading for the skeptical side:

https://www.audioholics.com/audio-video-cables/audio-cable-break-in-science-or-psychological

Is burn in absolutely a myth? I don’t know. But most Electrical Engineers that I’ve seen discuss this over the years, who aren’t part of a company trying to sell boutique cables, tend to dismiss the idea.

You might consider that Belden, for instance, one of the world’s most experienced manufacturers of cable, and who supply to the professional market vs just honing marketing at audiophiles. You won’t find any "our cables need burn in time" from them. (And it would be to say the least awfully inconvenient for all the pro industries if burn in were the ’problem’ audiophiles think it is. Remembering that cables are used not only for high-stakes professional audio and must perform essentially right-out-of-the-box. But cables are involved in countless sensitive technologies, from medical imaging, to NASA. If cables really didn’t hit their specs for hundreds of hours and needed all this burn in time, that is a whole host of potential problems that...funny enough...you never really hear those industries worrying about.  It's like capacitors/resistors burning in.  If those didn't hit their values essentially right out of the box, that could be hugely problematic given the incredible number of highly sensitive instruments that use those passive parts.  And you don't see industry leading manufacturers like Vishay warning for any of their product heading to sensitive industries like medical imaging etc "warning...100 hours BREAK IN TIME needed before these reach their proper specifications! ).




OP - Cable burn-in is indeed "a thing".  Here is a thread from 2003...yes it was a thing way back then as well.  https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/cable-quot-burn-in-quot?highlight=cable%2Bburn%2Bin
Many cable manufacturers use the term "settling in." A new cable has been manufactured, then coiled into a package and now you are installing it in your system. I believe the settling in process has to do with introducing current into the cable and its interaction between the conductor and the dielectric (or insulation) on a molecular level.

There are so many different cable designs with different substances being used for dielectrics and many different types of metallurgy being used as conductors. The EE measuring parameters with a scope may see a consistent signal, but who’s to say definitively that there is no audible change in the cable after it’s "broken in."


@n80

It’s a mad mad world. Some audiophiles will believe any tomfoolery that any tomfool cares to invent. It’s a mugs game for the unscrupulous who spend hours here promulgating “fear marketing” that says folks are not getting the best out of their precious system without an endless number of ridiculous tweaks. It just shows you that people are terribly unreliable at any kind of precision or sonic memory. Our senses are rather whimsical and clearly influenced by many factors such as mood and expectation. I guess this is why we always use instruments to make precise measurements in hospitals, engineeering, manufacturing, home inspection, food production etc.

The greatest nonsense is that although none of these tweaks can provide any measurable results they are always claimed anecdotally to provide the greatest sound improvements the user has ever encountered. Complete nonsense. Cable burn in is complete nonsense too.
shadorne
It’s a mad mad world. Some audiophiles will believe any tomfoolery that any tomfool cares to invent. It’s a mugs game for the unscrupulous who spend hours here promulgating “fear marketing” that says folks are not getting the best out of their precious system without an endless number of ridiculous tweaks.

>>>>>>Shadorne, I suspect you’ve completely psyched yourself out over this tweak stuff. You actually have no subjective or scientific evidence to support your rather extreme and dreary position that nothing works and everything’s a scam. What a dreadful and sad little corner you’ve painted yourself into. There’s a thin line between mad, mad, mad and sad, sad, sad. 😢
There are countless threads debating the break-in process on the internet in general as well as Audiogon. I'm not going to debate it, but suggest you do a search on the Audiogon threads or Google. When you get some quality listening time in be the judge for yourself.
BTW @n80 did you also mention aftermarket power cords and AC duplex outlets...;-)
@geoffkait

Geoff, On the contrary, I am happy and sleep peacefully knowing that the bogeyman doesn’t exist and is not hiding under my bed or causing strange distortions in my hi-fi. I am happy not needing to buy voodoo tweaks or strange pebbles or silly fuses or mats or contact paste or holy blessed interconnects or wooden oryx horn shaped stands or cup shaped trinkets and quantum speaker wires - happy knowing that none of this is in the least bit beneficial or necessary.

I am happier because I can devote my energy, focus and wallet on things that actually make a difference but even more importantly, I can simply enjoy listening to beautiful music without the least concern or worry in the world that I am missing out because some paranormal mumbo jumbo is limiting my setup.
Did not intend to open the nonoise must have been referring to in the first reply. And I have no expertise to say anything about this issue.

I would just re-state that it seems impossible to assess SQ differences that are separated by days. And it would seem that this burn-in process, if it exists, would occur over time and not at once....which would make a significant subjective evaluation even more difficult.

And again, why would a cable maker sell a product that is not ready for the level of quality expected by the high end audiophile? If quality is truly that important the cable should be burned-in before it is sold. No one has mentioned any cable maker doing this. So if the phenomenon is real, and I have no basis on which to deny that it is, then why wouldn't a serious boutique cable maker do the burn-in before sale?

geoffkait, it seems rather one sided to demand both subjective and scientific proof from shadone in regard to minor tweaks which by definition would be....minor.... And in fact, it really isn't logical at all to demand "subjective evidence". That's a bit of an oxymoron, no? And in reality, there does not seem to be any "scientific evidence" in this matter at all. So you are asking for evidence that doesn't exist. 
Post removed 
Keep your mind opened.
N80 just because people say something is a thing doesn't mean it's a thing LOL. You haven't heard anything yet! There's crazy people that believe that changing out a power cable or a fuse will make a big improvement on the sound!   You have to think about that one… Something that is not even caring the signal, that doesn't even make any measurable difference, somehow has a massive improvement??!
Then there's the one about power cables and fuses being directional! Even though they're all carrying alternating current, which by definition means it flows both ways, somehow there's a right way to orient these things. 

 Be very very careful! There's a lot of total BS in the audio file world that has been created purely to separate you from your money. 
For a while in the automotive performance world (street, not track) there was the craze for so called grounding kits. This was a large diameter wire to help ground the car's electrical system better than the factory ground(s). For years people spent money on these and made wild performance claims....that you could just feel in the seat of your pants.

I'm not equating this to cable burn-in. jea48 has proposed a very logical method for assessing the phenomenon. It remains very subjective of course and even his method does not control all variables. 

I know I keep beating the same horse, but if this is a real issue, or even a marketable issue, why aren't cable makers selling pre-burnt-in cables....for a premium, of course?
George, there are quite a few cable manufacturers that recommend break in / burn in. Some also offer cable burn in services included in the price or as an add on service. 
That lends some credibility to the issue. And would make a test much easier. I'm assuming someone or some magazine has done it? Just compare cables from that same manufacturer that have had their burn-in service and that have not. Let a group of audiophiles listen at the same time in the same place.

Anyway, I am not at the level that this will ever be an issue for me but I will certainly keep it in the back of my mind. 

I am The Paraclete of Caborca. 💩
All it takes is to read the manufacturer’s website about breakin...and how many of them offer the service.

Nordost...

How long do my cables have to break in?

Normally, we recommend at least 168 hours. However, our Reference level cables require at least 336 hours.

What is the best way to break in my cables?

The best way to break in your cables is to have them burned in on the Nordost VIDAR machine by an Authorized Dealer. Most dealers will do this for a small charge and many offer this service when you buy your cables from them. This is another reason to buy your cable from an Authorized Nordost Dealer.

What happens during break in?

Considerable changes occur in the cable during the break in process. Any gases that were trapped between the insulation and the conductors during manufacturing are dissipated. Additionally, the insulation material charges up. The diode effects of the conductor will be more pronounced after 168 hours of break in. During this time the cable takes on a direction.

https://nordost.com/faqs-break-in.php

Morrow...

Breakin Service:
We offer 2, 5 and 10 day breakin service...

...Burn-in operates on magnetic and electrical properties of conductors and insulators. FryDaddy is part of the FryKleanerTM series of professional cable burn-in generators.

http://morrowaudio.com/services/breaking-in-your-cables-cable-direction-and-hookup-instructions-

Cardas....

One reason settling time takes so long is we are linking the charge with mechanical stress/strain relationships. The physical make up of a cable is changed slightly by the charge and visa versa.

The better the dielectric’s insulation, the longer it takes to settle. A charge can come from simply moving the cable (Piezoelectric effect and simple friction), high voltage testing during manufacture, etc.

http://www.cardas.com/insights_break_in.php


n80 OP
geoffkait, it seems rather one sided to demand both subjective and scientific proof from shadone in regard to minor tweaks which by definition would be....minor.... And in fact, it really isn’t logical at all to demand "subjective evidence". That’s a bit of an oxymoron, no? And in reality, there does not seem to be any "scientific evidence" in this matter at all. So you are asking for evidence that doesn’t exist.

>>>>Can I respectfully request you read what I wrote again? I said either one, not both. In other words, anything other than ranting and raving. 😛 And, no, you’re probably scrambling to get on board but listening I.e., subject evidence is admissible evidence, you know, like an eyewitness in a murder case. Measurements and subjective tests are both scientific. They’re both empirical evidence. We “measure” what we hear with our ears. Capish?
Break in is like cryogenic treatment and directionality. Everyone does it but nobody talks about it. Settle-in is a term most often used to mean reestablishing the delicate electrical mechanical interface once a Cable has been pulled and reconnected. Or when a cable is pulled and another cable connected, as in a cable shoot-out. Or perhaps even when a cable itself is physically moved.
geoffkait wrote:

"Can I respectfully request you read what I wrote again?"

Yes, you may request it. But I already read it twice and there is no need to read it again.

"I said either one, not both."

That does not change anything about it.

"And, no, you’re probably scrambling to get on board but listening I.e.,"

I don't know what you're trying to say here. And yes, I read it again.

"subject evidence is admissible evidence, you know, like an eyewitness in a murder case."

And as such is very weak evidence both in court and in scientific experimentation. But that is irrelevant since you never provided evidence that shadone's opinions were derived without "subjective evidence" anyway. It was just your assertion, which makes you guilty of what you accuse.

"Measurements and subjective tests are both scientific."

As mentioned, subjective tests are among the weakest forms of scientific evidence.

" We “measure” what we hear with our ears."

And that's where we come up with measurements like "that sounds good".

 "Capish?"

Capish? Seriously? Patronize much? 
I just filed your response under Whatever. It’s not necessarily a good debate strategy to agree with me that your statement is false. 😀 
while there are some $few sonic differences can be noted in wires, fraction of penny or simply none can be noted in pre/after 'burn-in' so 
+1 @n80  

Keep digging Geoff, Capisci?
It’s always a treat when one pseudo skeptic pats another pseudo skeptic on the fanny.
N80, you stated that you are new to the audiophile world. So, shouldn't you approach the subject of burn-in or run-in with an open mind?

The instructions on your cables to allow 175 hours breakin does sound absurd and I've never seen that before. You may have purchased Mogami or Canare from that particular dealer which are professional quality cables. 
I work in the biz and use these cables and break-in has never been mentioned.

But based on my experience at home with cables using exotic metallurgy and design, there is an audible difference between the brand of cable plus the before and after breakin period. ie, I have owned 2 pairs of Purist Audio interconnects and could hear a difference between a new cable out of the box and the cable in my system.

At some point in this hobby you may discover this for yourself.


Ah, the old pro audio vs high end audio disconnect rears it’s ugky head. This is what happens when one segment of the industry stoves pipes. I.e., develops a set of concepts and products without paying attention to what’s going on in other segments of the industry, especially the one segment that presumably has a leg up on the advanced audio stuff.
OP - shadorne and the other measurers insist that if you can't measure it you won't hear it...you might convince yourself you did, but what the hell do your ears know?  I mean really who are your ears to tell your brain what sounds are entering them.  Much better to have a man-made device measure sounds which your inferior organic listening devices can not perceive.  Sheesh!

If you are a "measurer" then so be it.  You will be happy in your paradigm and that is absolutely fine!

My organic listening mechanism is more important to me than a man-made measuring device.👂👂

The decision?  Which listening mechanism do you want to trust to deliver the truth of your system to you?
n80,

You can see some examples of what I was talking about in this thread.

For instance the link to claims by cable purveyors regarding break in.First of all, going to the people who seem to be making dubious or controversial claims for products they sell might not be the best place to get objective information on cables.  I don't know about you,  but I try not to derive a true picture of the world form advertisements ;)

Second of all, note in those links to Nordost and Cardas simply bring you to claims made by those manufactures, wherein they supply no objective/measured results to support their technical claims of burn in (or that it is audible even if something does change over time in the cable).

And the other link morrowaudio is essentially a link to their cable burn in services.  I leave it to you to conclude the wisdom or not of appealing to someone trying to sell you a service as evidence of their claim.

Again, my position on cable burn in is not that I know it doesn't occur.  But rather, when I look at the basis on which those claims are typically presented, there's a fair amount to be skeptical of.




n80, Since you are new here, I’ll forgive you for starting this thread.
Please remember that there are no conclusive answers only strong opinions.Some subjects aren't worthy of discussion, if you can even call it that.

BTW: There are several trolls who deliberately instigate these threads to watch the sparks fly.
+1 prof and shadorne! "The capacity of Humans for self-delusion is unlimited" - Mr. Spock.
prof
For instance the link to claims by cable purveyors regarding break in.First of all, going to the people who seem to be making dubious or controversial claims for products they sell might not be the best place to get objective information on cables. I don’t know about you, but I try not to derive a true picture of the world form advertisements ;)

>>>No, of course you don’t go to the experts in the field, the ones who make their living designing and testing cables. You go to people who can’t hear the difference cables can make and/or who are die hard pseudo skeptics or self styled pseudo philosophizers. That’s where one should derive a true picture of the world. Oh, brother!
lowrider57 said:

" N80, you stated that you are new to the audiophile world. So, shouldn't you approach the subject of burn-in or run-in with an open mind?"

Yes. And I will. And to be clear, I have not stated that it isn't real. I've only pointed out the problems associated with actually identifying the difference. The nature of this thread alone with comments by a number of sincere and intelligent people (among the chaff) with differing opinions seems to suggest that it remains an issue which is at least problematic.

And, as I mentioned in a private message with another member here, none of it really makes any difference to me whatsoever because my system, by all accounts, already has ridiculously high end cables all around that have been burned-in for years. Plus, if I need additional cables at some point, I'll get cables that are reasonably commensurate with the ones I have.

Plus, I'll give them the recommended 175 hours of burn-in.....which is kind of a given right? What else could I do?

Then there is "my ear"....which seems to be the gold standard for some...and by default has to be....but I think it is highly unlikely that after 7.29 days of actual use that I'm going to pop in a Pink Floyd CD and yell "eureka what a difference!" when my RCA cable is burned in. I'm perfectly willing to admit that that surely has more to do with me not knowing what I'm listening to or listening for. 

rja, I'm truly sorry. I had no idea! There was no intention to poke the trolls but I don't mind poking them after they come out.

hifiman5,

OP - shadorne and the other measurers insist that if you can't measure it you won't hear it...you might convince yourself you did, but what the hell do your ears know?  I mean really who are your ears to tell your brain what sounds are entering them.  Much better to have a man-made device measure sounds which your inferior organic listening devices can not perceive.  Sheesh!


I assume you wouldn't scoff at the idea of a carbon monoxide detector for use in your home, on similar grounds? "My senses have served me fine, I mean who is your nose to tell your brain what substances are entering them?"   (But of course, carbon monoxide detectors are there because your senses WON'T likely detect odorless Carbon Monoxide in your environment).

Obviously, we invent measurement devices because our senses are limited at detecting what is actually there.  The same goes for our hearing.  So we know we can measure many things we can't sense, including that we can't hear.   We can know "something is there" even if our senses can't detect it.  And of course we can also measure plenty that we hear.

If you are suggesting you can hear things that can't be measured, the question is:  how do you know?


The reply "Well...I heard it!" doesn't take in to account how your perception can be mistaken.

Also, think of it this way:  Expensive, boutique audiophile cables purport to "fix" problems found in other cables.  But if instruments can't detect those problems...how would you know they are there in the first place?

Notice that most cable companies start of with TECHNICAL claims about a problem, alluding to phenomenon known from having been measured by instruments in the first place.  Look for instance at the Cardas link where in describing issues with cables they reference:

microphonics dielectric characteristics of  insulators
high input impedance
Piezoelectric effect
uneven distribution of the charge
Mechanical stress

And yet, despite appealing to a set of measurable problems, they do not produce measurements showing they fixed those technical problems.  You go directly from technical sounding descriptions...to marketing and subjective anecdotes.    If it was a technical measurable problem with cables in the first place, and they fixed that technical problem in their design, where are the measurements showing this to be the case?

(And there is also the issue of how they have drawn the line between any of those technical "problems" to their audible consequences in the first place).

Post removed 
If you are a "measurer" then so be it.  You will be happy in your paradigm and that is absolutely fine!

My organic listening mechanism is more important to me than a man-made measuring device.👂👂

The decision?  Which listening mechanism do you want to trust to deliver the truth of your system to you?
+1 @hifiman5 .

First of all, going to the people who seem to be making dubious or controversial claims for products they sell might not be the best place to get objective information on cables. I don't know about you, but I try not to derive a true picture of the world form advertisements ;)
OK @prof , point well taken.
That's why the consumer should be reading the user reviews of said cables.


Second of all, note in those links to Nordost and Cardas simply bring you to claims made by those manufactures, wherein they supply no objective/measured results to support their technical claims of burn in (or that it is audible even if something does change over time in the cable).
It is implied by the manufacturer's info that the listener will experience an audible change in sonics after a run-in period. In some cases they are answering queries regarding break-in.





Excellent post prof! And it has been shown that the measuring devices can measure things small enough that the ear of most likely cannot detect. So I find it funny that people Scoff at measuring device list.
 N80 if you’re interested read up on confirmation bias and expectation bias. This is the reason for all the folks claiming that things sound wildly better when they’ve spent 1000s on a cable.

prof
"
going to the people who seem to be making dubious or controversial claims for products they sell might not be the best place to get objective information on cables. I don't know about you, but I try not to derive a true picture of the world form advertisements ;)"

I don't know about you but I would be reluctant to accept technical judgements from anonymous forum posters about things they admit they don't even understand especially when the claims, assertions and doubts they promulgate lack any basis in science, engineering or even common sense and from people who dismiss, disregard and reject the data, observations, and conclusions made by those who have actually listened, experimented, and documented they're testing:) <grin> <grin>
n80, I appreciate your articulate comments and willingness to learn.

Plus, I'll give them the recommended 175 hours of burn-in.....which is kind of a given right? What else could I do?
I hope your tongue is planted firmly in cheek. You will be able to judge the cables' characteristics after a few hours.

Then there is "my ear"....which seems to be the gold standard for some...and by default has to be..
Now you're talking.

prof"Again, my position on cable burn in is not that I know it doesn’t occur. "

Then why don’t you buy some actual audio cable and conduct some experiments for yourself you seem to be a vocal advocate and promoter of what you seem to think is the "scientific" method you could acquire your own set of verifiable data rather than just to continue to challenge, question and oppose those who have actually acquired, installed and evaluated what they discuss rather than just imagine, theorize, and speculate what might happen were they to actually measure, listen and verify. Of course if you did that you would be subject to the same sort of criticism and ridicule you heap on other's here with disregard for actual data.

Post removed 
clearthink,
Then why don’t you buy some actual audio cable and conduct some experiments for yourself you seem to be a vocal advocate and promoter of what you seem to think is the "scientific" method you could acquire your own set of verifiable data rather than just to continue to challenge, question and oppose those who have actually acquired, installed and evaluated what they discuss rather than just imagine, theorize, and speculate what might happen were they to actually measure, listen and verify. Of course if you did that you would be subject to the same sort of criticism and ridicule you heap on other’s here with disregard for actual data.


^^^^^ It’s somewhat hard to answer (or be motivated to answer) such strange and opaque posts.

Actually, the "ridicule" tends to come from folks like yourself, in the posts you are making directed to me. If you actually care to notice, my posts didn’t "ridicule" they just applied some critical thinking to claims in the audiophile world. It’s not "ridicule" to point to the fact there are a lot of dubious claims in high end audio, and it’s not "ridicule" to point out the method typically used to vet those claims in the audiophile community are often unreliable.

Why don’t I do these measurements? Because I don’t have the measuring equipment (which can be very expensive) nor the electrical engineering expertise.


This is why I have made no such claims for myself.


But of course you don’t have to be an expert in a field to be able to say reasonable things about claims relating to a field. You can appeal to the consensus of people with relevant expertise, and with an understanding of good empirical principles, recognize when one group is appealing to poorly justified arguments/evidence over others. You probably haven’t the expertise in every science related to understanding the shape of the earth, but critical thinking allows you to weigh the type of evidence and reasoning flat earthers give for their claims, vs scientists, to have a reasonable claim on being skeptical of the flat earth claims.

And this is why, if you just want to point out I’m not a scientist or electrical engineer, that says nothing about whether anything I’ve written is unreasonable or untrue. For that....you’d have to actually address the arguments, not go ad hominem.


And btw, as an obsessed audiophile since the early 90’s, I’ve listened to countless high end systems, which included practically every big cable maker you can name. I’ve also been able to check out very expensive, highly regarded cables - speaker cables, interconnects, AC cables etc - both in my system and friend’s systems over the years. So, no, I’m not coming at this from some total inexperience with high end cabling.

What is it about asking questions about these claims that so frustrates you? Should we as consumers simply accept whatever manufacturers claim for their products? What’s so wrong with applying critical thinking to these areas?


prof
What is it about asking questions about these claims that so frustrates you? Should we as consumers simply accept whatever manufacturers claim for their products? What’s so wrong with applying critical thinking to these areas?

What are the specific supposedly outrageous claims by cable manufacturers that have you so upset, professor? How about some specifics? Share, share. What’s your beef? 🍔 I’d really like to know. What exactly has the professor’s panties all in a twist? Is it all high end cable manufacturers or just one or two. Who are they? When? Where?

analoglovr wrote:

" N80 if you’re interested read up on confirmation bias and expectation bias. This is the reason for all the folks claiming that things sound wildly better when they’ve spent 1000s on a cable."

I'm actually very familiar with those things. I've dealt directly with clinical trials in my lifetime and assess the merits of them regularly. When dealing with humans subjective measurements are difficult and even more difficult to attach meaning to. The mind has a powerful effect not only on how we perceive reality but how we respond to it. The placebo effect, which is very relevant to this conversation, is a good example. In one study on placebo effect subjects who were extremely sensitive to poison oak were blindfolded and told poison oak leaves were being rubbed on their arm. It was actually an inert material. Despite this a certain percentage of the test group developed a rash where they were touched with the inert substance. No one in the control group did.

Anyway, I see exact parallels to these conversations in the photography world and in the automotive performance world.

Whenever I explore a new pursuit like this or photography or whatever, there is always a certain level of skepticism that any said expenditure for any said improvement is actually going to be real. I am often shocked how much actual, real improvement there is as you go from lower end gear (like lenses, camera sensors, etc) to the better equipment. You feel and know that the money spent has been worthwhile and it is easy to see and easy to prove. I firmly believe that this cost vs improvement curve goes up steeply for quite a while. But I also believe that at the higher end of the curve the performance curve begins to flatten out as expenditures continue to rise, usually more steeply. At this level the amount of money spent buys you very very little. I also believe that there comes a point that the performance goes completely flat even as expenditures go up. High cost, no yield.

I'm not correlating any thing in the audiophile world with any point on this curve. But it is always my goal to seek that sweet spot where the curve starts to flatten out, stop spending money and know that I'm getting the most out of my budget. That sweet spot is going to be in different places for different people.  But with significant experience in the photography world, I know there are folks who delight in that part of the curve where cost is high and the benefits are subtle at best. Nothing wrong with that as long as they don't try to convince me that the curve is still going up when it isn't. 

Of course the best thing to do in that situation is to thank them, shut up and walk away. I haven't got that down yet.
FWIW, over the years I've noticed a fairly consistent phenomenon in these forums. Certain members seem to gravitate to threads involving phenomena that are either technically inexplicable, at least when considered in a quantitative manner (if that is even possible), or are particularly controversial, or both.

The usual result being that potentially constructive dialogue gives way to some combination of childish commentary, exchanges of insults, and ad hominem attacks, rather than dialogue which is constructive and potentially useful. Which as far as I am concerned would seem to defeat the main purpose of a forum.

Just an observation, FWIW. Also, BTW, I consider contributions to this forum by Prof and by Analogluvr, among a number of others I could name, to be the antithesis of those I am referring to. I always find their contributions to be pragmatic, thought-provoking, based on extensive experience in many cases, and certainly warranting intelligent discussion.

Also, as usual Jim (Jea48) has provided a constructive input to the thread. The problem, though, is that all too often audiophiles tend not to perform their evaluations in as thorough and disciplined a manner as he suggested, before proclaiming that a perceived difference is attributable to a specific cause. As opposed to being caused by extraneous variables such as ongoing aging or breakin of unrelated system components, differences in AC line voltage or noise characteristics that occur from time to time, changes in ambient temperature and/or humidity (temperature being a factor that is fundamental to the physics of semiconductors such as transistors, diodes, and integrated circuits), differences in equipment warmup states, flushing of internal digital memory that occurs when power is cycled, etc.

My own belief, again FWIW, is that when it comes to controversial audio-related matters more often than not reported perceptions are likely to be accurate, and not the result of "expectation bias." Depending, of course, on the credibility of the particular person who is doing the reporting. But my belief is also that in many cases the methodology that has been used in arriving at the reported conclusions has not been sufficiently thorough to assure that the perceived effect is being attributed to the correct variable.

Regards,
-- Al
I’ve noticed something, too, over the years. That is naysayers and skeptics tend to construct detailed, layered arguments to try to discredit or dismiss certain controversial ideas, products or tweaks. Cables is obviously just one example. And it’s the same ones who pop up on all of those threads. You could say it’s an excersise in the art of debate or the art of philosophical argument. But at the end of the day it’s simply what they choose to believe. I’m giving them credit here for honest debate, but even that is often in doubt. I’m not saying it’s not OK to have a gut reaction to something, but to build a whole philosophy around it? Hel-loo! I don’t think you’ll find any super skeptics suddenly changing their tune. Even with considerable evidence to the contrary from all sides. What would they say to the other super skeptics? I mean, come on!
Wind 'em up and watch 'em go!  If only a fraction of this energy was spent solving actual problems..

I've been experimenting with hifi for a few years. At first I felt the need to reject all the dubious ideas, like tweaks, fancy footers, cable burn-in, contact enhancers, etc. Then I pursued all these things avidly. My current feeling is that all of these things make a difference, but not so much really.