Cartridge break in device

Does any one have any experience with the $700 cartridge break -in gadget that Mike Fremmer mentioned a few month back in one of his columns?
Yes, it's called "700 big green ones" in your pocket as you listen to your cartridge break in naturally while playing records.

Good point, I guess time isn't that important, as long as the journey is enjoyable.
The Cardas Sweep Record is an alternative for about $30. Frequency sweeps are valuable after you are broken in too. I like it and wouldn't be without it. $700 buys a lot of records.
Breakin can be disconcerting as the cartridge goes through personality changes in the first 10 to 50 hours (or maybe more). But, for $700 you can buy enough vinyl to distract yourself playing new records while you ride it out.

I keep reading threads that tell me that the first 50 or 100 hours, or more, deliver an ever increasing degree of satisfaction as the cartridge breaks in. Some say to go back and listen to what you first played to hear the bloom of the music. I think I'd take the suggestion to heart and reduce the break in period by 300 hours or so , as I will be starting out with 3 new cartridges at the same time. One hour a day would take me a year to realize the bloom of the 3 cartridges.

Hmmmm, might there be a need for a cartridge break in service? What say you, Gregadd?


Hearing a cartridge go through its changes can be educational. OTOH, if all one wanted to do was enjoy music, that sort of audiophilia would indeed be distracting.

Some hours spinning on the Cardas record, with VTF set near the manufacturer's recommended maximum, works pretty well for speeding the process along. I don't know how the device mentioned by Fremer works so I can't offer any comparisons.

For cartridge break in on the Cardas LP you don't need to power up the system and listen to white noise. You don't need to use your primary rig. If you have a second TT, mount the new cartridge on that and let it exercise the suspension into shape while you enjoy music on your main system.

BTW, some cartridge models take much longer than others to settle in. A ZYX Airy 3, Transfiguration Orpheus or Shelter 901 typically need 150-200 hours, they go through large changes and the 901 can be unpleasant when new. OTOH, don't break a ZYX UNIverse in at all. You'd be wasting valuable listening time, since most UNIverses change very little after the 10th or 20th hour and some don't change at all. IOW, don't assume a common break in period for all new cartridges. Ask around model by model.

Good luck,

The Cardas lp is a good Idea. I read it was good as a demagnetizer, but since I have a cart demag unit, I never gave any thought.

From what I remember of Fremmer's remarks, it broke in the suspension without exposing the stylus to unnecessary wear. Extended useful stylus life seems like a plus, especially with the retipping costs approaching a good % of the total cartridge cost. If it only breaks in and doesn't damage the suspension in any way, it may not be a bad idea. The problem may be that if it does damage the suspension, even slightly, you'd probably never know since there would've been no frame of reference for the change.

Thanks, Ken

Be very careful with that active de-mag unit. Many cartridge makers warn against them. Some specifically void the warranty if you use it on their cartridge. The Cardas de-mag tracks are safer (and effective IME).

A device that would exercise the suspension without wearing the stylus seems a useful idea, though as you say the risks are hard to assess. The best frame of reference for the change, obviously, is to suffer the original problem: "enjoy" the cartridge changes during natural break in while playing music. An insoluble dilemma?


The demag unit I have is a Sumiko that I purchased 15 or 20 years ago. I never used it since I never listened to much vinyl. What are the conditions that result in magnetization of a cartridge? Is it hours of playing time, months- years, both, or what? What are the audible signs that it needs to be demagnetized?

Tomorrow I'll order the Cardas LP and put the Sumiko on Audiogon.

Tks and Happy New year.


What are the conditions that result in magnetization of a cartridge? Is it hours of playing time, months- years, both, or what?
That's a controversial topic. Some argue it's impossible for any part of a cartridge save the magnets themselves to become magnetized, since they're made of nominally non-magnetic materials. Others argue that trace impurities or other factors could allow magnetization. I avoid the "why" and "how" arguments, since I lack the scientific knowledge to contribute anything useful.

Much less controversial is that something, somehow changes after de-magging, whether with an active device like yours or the Cardas record. (Some have stated that once you actively de-mag you must do so more and more often, and that doing so progressively weakens the magnets. Thus the warranty issue.) The LOMC's I've owned (Shelter, ZYX) have all benefitted from a monthly (or so) pass on the Cardas LP. I've not noticed any need to "treat" the cartridge more frequently, so IME the Cardas LP will not harm the cartridge or shorten its life, beyond the few minutes added to total usage of course.

What are the audible signs that it needs to be demagnetized?
Until you know the sound of a cartridge in your system well, it will be difficult to notice. Nothing goes downhill suddenly. There's just a gradual diminution of inner detail, microdynamic subtleties, and "life". Everthing gets slowly more bland and boring. It sounds like playing with excessive VTF or excessive antiskating, the livliness is squashed out of the music.

Five minutes on the Cardas LP and everything comes back. It sounds like you cleaned the windows.