Can You Expalin Why Power Cables Do This?

It has to do with handling and connecting a power cable that's been "broken in" before but has been laying around out of use, and what happens once you reconnect the power cable and it "settles in." (It can be a power cord on an amplifier or cd player, etc.)

Why, when you first plug in many power cables in the situation above, do they start out adding more bass weight and clarity to the presentation (often, not always). Then the power cable goes through a (stabilization, "settling in") or whatever you call it. With this stabilizing or settling in, the original bass and weight dissipates. The original clarity dissipates. Within a day or two (or 3) after "settling in," when you listen to the system, the presentation has changed. Now the presentation has lost some of that clarity and bass weight from before (I guess audiophiles call this a "tightening" of the bass, and the dissipation of clarity is called what? (the highs getting smoother?)

What's happening? Any EE's out there with a not too technical explanation in laymen's terms that average folks can relate to about this "re-settling?" I wish "broken in" power cables, continued adding the good attributes to the system before and after "settling in." (you know, bass weight, clarity etc.) I'd like to keep those sonic qualities not lose them. What's happening?
because power cables are magic!!
I can saw that effects are noticable at first, but then we grow accustomed to the situation and 'loose' the sense of it being different.
Other than that, I have never heard anyone speak of the phenomenon you are claiming.
So if anyone else notices the phenomenon the questioner is pointing to, write about it. 'cuz it is not discussed anywhere.
To the best of my knowledge and experiences, I’ve found nearly every pc changes the electrical characteristics of that portion of the device…. And as the result, the sound of the system changes.

As I know it to be, some PCs are different in inductance resistance, capacitance, or impedance values. True too the metallurgy (materials) alter the voice of the device to some degree, more or less.

Their coverings too play a part in the overall affectation of the sonic result. The Dialectic adds to the filling in or running in mix. Connectors too will slightly alter the sound and again, from the sorts of metals being used.

Regardless what people say as to wether or not cables play a part in changing the sound of a system, especially power cords, almost always, folks will agree that there is a decided difference in the sound from the use of copper, to that of silver. Based on that single note, it then stands to reason varying blends of just those two metals offer a change to the sound as they can change imperical measurements too as mentioned previously. Throw in the way the conductors are braided, skinned, and blended, and it’s no wonder why so many power cords alter the sound to more or less degrees.

Some pc’s address ambient radiation of high freq energies and some do not. Some better shielded cables take far longer to run in as I suspect their coverings being adhesively stuck to the insulator affect the dialectic more severely. Less shielded cords seem to me to run in quicker yet the concerns for EMI and HF being introduced can be a real bother. I find this more an issue when there’s a bunch of wires racing here and there closely set together more so than local appliances, TV & Radio stations influence.

I’ve found more problems surrounding dirty power than did HF or EMI. Location or locales vary with regard to these items. Spurrious radiation might not be a problem in one area, but may be in another.

Naturally length of the conductors too plays a part in things.

Others will say differently perhaps, and maybe some great insights to the why’s will come along later on.
Thanks Blindjim. Almarg, good man, how about it?
Almarg, good man, how about it?
I haven't the foggiest idea :)

Some people, most likely non-EE's, would claim that during the period of time the power cords were unused they lost their breakin, whatever that may mean technically, and that the change you noted during the first days of re-use reflected re-breakin. Which with your particular system happened to work in the wrong direction sonically.

A rationale that is commonly offered for the breakin phenomenon, again usually by non-EE's, is something called dielectric absorption. As you'll see in the linked writeup, that is a phenomenon that occurs with capacitors, and since any cable or power cord has some small amount of capacitance, some audiophiles have concluded that it is applicable to cables and power cords as well.

However, I have never seen any explanation that plausibly establishes in a QUANTITATIVE manner how dielectric absorption may be significant in the context of audio system cables or power cords. Nor for that matter have I ever seen what I consider to be a plausible quantitative rationale for any other hypothesized cable or power cord breakin explanation.

Best regards,
-- Al
Break in usually has a positive effect when noted.

Its true that any change in sound is often most noticeable at first. Then your ears adjust and the nature of the change becomes less noticeable.

I'm also convinced that the listener plays a major role in what one hears day in day out, especially in the case of critical listeners. Why assume that we are constant from day to day and its only our gadgets that vary?
That's a good question.
Why is break in ALWAYS for the better? Why doesn't it get worse?
Or do you only post when something gets better?

there are some great thoughts on display here... Al's for instance. But sometimes thangs just is waht they is... and for no good reason..

I suspect there are still things in the universe which defy imperical measurements, or escape evidentiary determinations, as to the how or why of them... and they remain in the camp (s) of ... “THEY JUST ARE.”

Science still has enigmas, and mysteries. Even Steven hawking said not long ago, some of his previous theories were crap... and has since revised them to better yet different perspectives.

Let's face it... the professor on Gilligans Island could make a microwave oven out of a pair of coconuts, but couldn't figure out how to patch a two foot hole in the side of a boat!

maybe being isolated on some unknown tropical isle with two gorgeous single girls like Mary Ann & Ginger, impaired his ability to construct boat patches.

I've peeked some during some run in periods... and not peeked substantially during others.... with respect to cable break ins & component burn ins. For the life of me something does seem to occur. things change. Audibly.

If my system isn’t sounding good for what ever reasons… humidity, exceptional heat, etc. I’m simply unable to enjoy it. Although these are rare occasions, they do happen. Sun spots? I’ve no clue really but they do happen.

I also know I simply can not adjust to errant sounds. Brightness or darkness are just that. I don't adjust well to those items per se, at all. neither do I adjust to overt sibilance. high freq negative artifacts such as shrillness, etching, grain, etc.... are simply things I am unable to adjust to amicably.

So as much as 'perhaps' there is some adjusting to, going on inside me, it sure isn’t to those less than effects one can and does notice in quite a few break ins.

Dull is dull. Bright is bright. Grain is tgrain. Dark is dark. Thick is thick. When such components of the sound are plainly evident, yet later resolve themselves away, I dare say the device has done far more adjusting than have I.

In fact as I 'get used' to the sound of my system it becomes even easier for me to detect aberations if or when they arise. it's like you and your home, or your car. you know how it sounds and can catch new or different sounds in it than some others who are unfamiliar with it/them. Right?

Why cables or what ever encompass change following non use or first time use seems self explanatory. It’s new! Stuff inside hasn't seen extended electrical energies hardly ever or for a while. Caps drain... eventually. motors work better once warmed up. ETc, ETC, ETC.

All I know is something is going on for sure, either way.

Case in fact... my Dodd monos sat for nearly a year seeing only THE most minimal playing time... maybe one or two nights in all of last year. it wasn't until the second night that they began to sound like they used to, exhibiting greater extension and bass command. They became more open and resolving as well with more time. Their associated power cords too usually had sat out nearly as long.

So... IMHO... if you ain't encountering such audible shifting briefly or extensively, either your system lacks sufficient resolve, or your hearing is what has changed for the worse more than anything else.... OR you've simply detached from reality and refuse to accept what your ears are telling you..

I mean no harm by this last point, but I'm no freak hearingwise either.... yet these are my own experiences… and I don’t drink or use chemicals, so unless I had some severe mental shift and broke with reality for a spell, I feel pretty good about what I’m disclosing here.

Why is it that plants grow better when music is played about them throughout the day? They don’t have ears. So I’ve no idea… but many have said this notion works.

Sometimes things just are…. Their how’s and why’s might not be something I need to know exactly. I just have to deal with them as best I can, taking them at face value and move on.


So... IMHO... if you ain't encountering such audible shifting briefly or extensively, either your system lacks sufficient resolve, or your hearing is what has changed for the worse more than anything else.... OR you've simply detached from reality and refuse to accept what your ears are telling you..

The error of this is the assumption of actual audibility.

A perceived difference isn't necessarily due to an actual audible difference.

While it's true that we don't know everything, that doesn't mean we know nothing. And one thing we do know, and have known for quite a long time, is the role that psychology can play with regard to our subjective perceptions.

A fact that is routinely ignored, dismissed out of hand or simply denied by many. And until that ambiguity is adequately controlled for (beyond ego and vanity), then one can't come to any meaningful conclusions.
maybe all of the magic has left the cord, and you should send it back to the Magic Audio Shop on Diagon Alley (that's in London, btw) to have the power cord magic restored
Unfortunately, Macd's explanation is perhaps as plausible as any I can come up with other than its often us that change in terms of what we hear from day to day and not our devices.
Macdadtexas I safely assume you do NOT ever hear any differences in powercords right? They ALL sound the same?
Going from a stock, unshielded cable with poor connectors, to a basic shielded with good solid connectors (say a nice PS Audio or Signal Cable) definitely a positive step. After that, nothing, no matter how many I have heard.

Once the electrons get to the transformer/power supply in the gear cleanly, there has never been a change to my ear; in mine, or anyone elses' system.


I sometimes wish I never had heard diffs from power cables. It costs a lot less to live without that knowledge.

I’m not tickled with being told I’m imagining things or am delusional…. Even in a nice way.

I would not be so adamant about my experiences were they not my own true experiences.

BTW… As it turns out the world is not flat afterall. Go figure. Heart breaking news for some, but boat sales are now booming as the result..

It isn’t what we don’t know that can be quite troublesome to us, it’s what we know that just ain’t so, that causes us the greatest burdens.

Whatever allows for anyone their peace with the how's and why's of those things they experience in life, is OK by me.

At times, we don't know enough to open our minds to some other answer than those we can rationalize or justify.

I don't know exactly why there are changes with power cables and/or cables in genral, when new or when reinserted into a system... I just know that there are.

As much as knowledge can be reassuring, some will even say it is power, it can as well, become a barrier. Another item it can become is just plain unnecessary.

I’ve no clue about how a plasma TV actually works, bringing an image onto it’s screen… but it does and that’s good enough for me.

Again, sometimes one just has to take things at face value and accept them for what they are…. That’s true too for what some other may say that they have seen or heard. If I wasn’t there, at that exact same time, how then, can I possibly refute it legitimately?
Simply_q; why not just say, because it is all in your head!


Simply_q; why not just say, because it is all in your head!

Well, when you get right down to it, it IS all in our heads as the entirety of our perceptions exist only in our minds.

But of course there is a difference between a perceived difference that's due to actual audible stimulus and one that's due to psychology alone, i.e. placebo effect and what have you.

I can't rightly say it's the latter because I don't know with a high degree of certainty that that's the case. Though with things such as cable break-in, where there's no physical evidence or even plausible theory to support it, it's certainly tending toward that direction.

But by the same token, those making unsubstantiated claims of actual audibility can't say such with any degree of certainty either. Of course THEY'RE certain of it. But stomping your feet and shouting doesn't make it the reality.
Mac your a lucky man then :)
Blindjim, I appreciate you man! There are definitely sonic changes going on with the sound of my system after reinserting a power cord. I am equally sure that it's not just me as some here would imply. I know the sonics of my speakers way to well! IMO any variable that impacts the delivery or quality of the AC power to a component is going to affect the sonic presentation of the system.
How come the variability of the listener is never considered? Changes in hormone levels, sleep patterns, stress levels, diet, amount of physical activity (or lack of), illnesses, exposure to noise, emotional stability, blood pressure, recent sexual activity, etc. all could have as much effect on the sound of a high quality music reproduction system as the break-in phenomena with a power cord. But that would shift the focus away from the equipment onto the self. You can always buy another power cord, but it's a lot harder to "upgrade" your own self.
Onhwy61, you make valid points. I agree with you that it's very likely that there are human and physical variables affecting mine and others hearing at certain intervals in the listening experience. But each time I add in a power cord that was out of duty I hear it affect the system sound which does not stabilize for a time lasting generally more than a day or 2. This occurrence has been consistent. I have had over 20 aftermarket power cords at one time or another over the past 5 years.
Every wire acts like an antenna introducing emf/rfi, power cables through their shielding try to avoid this. Also I am sure antivibration is also important as everything that vibrates produces static.
Here's something interesting regarding power cords:

PC measurements
I know it's difficult to accept for some people that power cables can't possibly have the impact on components that some people think they hear, but there's every indication that power cables, of sufficient gauge so as not to cause a voltage drop, are completely without an audible signature.

For any audio component, as soon as the electrical current reaches the power transformer it will be changed, altering the voltage level. (Mostly, up for tubes, down for transistors.) Then the 60hz AC is rectified to direct current (~0hz), and passed through one or more large capacitors, which have their own effects on the current. (One capacitor effect is that they act as little short-term batteries, so even if the rise-time of power cables varied a lot like that web page pointed to above implies - and they don't - the power filter capacitors would make up the difference on most amps.) At this point the current drives the output stage of some amplifier function, with gain factors that vary from 0db (for a line stage pre-amp) to ~30db (for a very powerful amplifier).

So what you folks that believe in audible differences are trying to tell us, is that specific audio consequences, such as frequency response differences or sound stage artifacts, can be designed into power cables, that have the current they carry so vastly changed before it affects the speakers in any way, and the only tools the cable manufacturers can use are variations in conductor material, strategies for winding the conductors, and the insulation material. To me, that is akin to saying you can build a computer from some baling wire, duct tape, and paper clips.

It just fails the believability test.