Cable "burn in"

I understand that before coming to conclusions about the sound of an interrconnect in your system, the cable must be "burnt in" for some degree of time.

My questions is -- can I do this "burning in" simply by hooking the interconnect up to, say, an FM tuner and the preamp, turning the turner on and letting it "play" while the preamp is turned off. If not why would turning the preamp (or the rest of the system) on during the "burn in" make any difference??
You are right Jackcob....get burning. "Breaking in" a cable has everything to do with the insulation - not the wire itself. The insulation or dielectric will absorb energy from the conductor when a current is flowing (music). This energy absorption causes the dielectric's molecules to re-arrange themselves from random to uniform order. When re-arranged the dielectric will absorb less energy and consequently cause less distortion. The cable is now broken-in and sound improves. To ensure the cable stays broken-in it must remain connected and the components left on. If no signal is present in the cable the molecules will re-arrange into a random state and break-in will have to be repeated. Length of break-in varies from 100-500 hours.
the preamp doesn't usually have to be energized, but the input that you have those "cooking" cables connected to needs to be selected in order for signal current to be traveling through the cables of interest. If there's no load termination at the end of those cables, then no signal current flows & hence no breakin is occuring.
Most (rotary switch selector design) preamps terminate whatever input is selected, whether the pre is on or not. However if it's a relay-driven logic toplolgy, then power must be turned on to energize that input selector relay.
If in any doubt then checking the load termination with an ohmmeter will verify.
Yep, hooking a cable up to a tuner is about the cheapest way to burn it in.

Compared to a "good" cable burner, using a source component such as a tuner or CD player is a poor substitute. It works, but you don't get anywhere near the same results. Sean
what do you recommend, sean? i'm in the process of breaking in some ic's at the moment and would love to know.
the best readily available way to burn in an interconnect is to use it as a digital cable. You will get a much higher level, wide spectrum signal as well as a 75ohm load. You can couple your left and right cable together.

Steve great idea. This would acually be similar to the Mobie cable burner, which passes a large amplitude square wave through the interconnects into a dummy load box. I got my Mobie from Music Direct in Chicago; list price $250, I think I got about 10% off, but I had to beg for it.
Laz this Mobie is what Sean recommended to me, but it only cooks interconnects, no speaker cables nor AC cords. He recommends 30 days for best results, but even one day reportedly helps.
I've heard very noticeable differences with as little as 24 - 36 hours of burn time on a Mobie. I typically like to let cables cook for at least one week and longer if possible. Bob Crump has mentioned 30 days as being a "magic number" in his experience. Personally, i've cooked cables for a couple of months and still think that some of them have shown improvement after going back on for even more "burn time". The Kimber / Illuminati D-60 is one cable that takes a LONG, LONG time to really settle in, even on a burner.

As far as using a digital source feeding a DAC as a "burner", i don't know. The signal is fed at an RF frequency ( 2.822 MHz ), which is WAY above the audio range. It would be interesting to compare cables "broken in" on a burner and via the "digital link" method. I do agree that the digital signal may be of higher amplitude than what an interconnect would see as far as signal goes, but whether or not it is beneficial in break in would be anybody's guess. Personally, i do not know.

If you're willing to make up some adapters, you can literally use interconnects as speaker cables. I know of a few folks that have done this and they commented on how much "sonic smog" was removed when they re-installed them into the system as interconnects. Quite honestly, i would not expect much out of an interconnect as a speaker cable, but it might be a little surprising. Sean