DAC break-in...


I am ready to make the move from a cdp to a transport plus DAC. One of the DAC's I am interested in is notorious for a lengthy break-in. Taken into consideration my families listening habits, the shear amount of hours I am reading for expected settling is slightly disconcerting.

So is the break-in hours I am reading about synonymous with all brands...is it expected across the board regardless of price? Is there a price threshold where this is mitigated or performed by the manufacturer?

Hoping to learn here...TIA


 
 

mlo97
As in all things Audio, it will be system dependent. Several variables will make it impossible to determine the break in length in your system. I will list a few;.... system resolution, your listening acuity, quality of source material and associated equipment.

Once you get the DAC installed I suggest you let it settle in by running a signal through it for at least two weeks straight. Enjoy the adventure!
Electronics (let alone cable) burn-in is another of those audiophile myths. Believe in it if you want - it is free world. My advice is to relax and not worry.
Willemj is right! Burn-in time for electronics and wire is a FALLACY.  A fancy word meaning "a mistaken belief". The proliferation of DAC's (some of them quite pricey!) in the belief of their superiority over one-box players is again a mistaken notion! It is just another ploy to extract money from the gullible! Capitalism is a savage beast that devours its children!
I quite like capitalism, but with Pareto I would claim it requires a transparent market. These monopolistic competiton tricks by boutique manufacturers claiming differences that do not exist are a scam.
As for DACs, I am usually listening to the internal DAC of a Chromecast Audio, and even on a very revealing system (Quad 2805 speakers) the sound is fine. DAC chips cost a few dollars only, if bought in quantity. Designing their implementation is a piece of cake if you just follow the instructions of the DAC manufacturer. Of course there are DACs that  measure better, but the critical question is if they sound better when observed under controled conitions.
My other DAC is an ODAC.
after my Aesthetix Romulus CDP was unplugged for 6 months, I called Aesthetix and was told one month on standby would bring it back to full performance, plus playing CD's of course...I would call the manufacturer and ask...can't think of a reason the engineers who designed it would mislead you if it really only took a few minutes...
but if break-in occurs while it is on, even if not playing a CD, that changes your whole time frame...
There was a definite period when I first acquired an Ayre Codex that it presented very closed in and two dimensional compared to the loaner that I had demoed in my own system.  I ran Roon radio into it for many hours (days) with and without my preamp powered on, occasionally listening.  The period of time involved until it settled was very consistant with what Ayre predicted. 
...the DAC's I am interested in is notorious for a lengthy break-in.

If you're speaking of a Schiit DAC, it is my understanding that many owners/users claim an extended break in period is required, while the manufacturer does not. The manufacturer does claim that leaving it on 24/7 is best.

I don't particularly believe in break-in, however, certain components such as capacitors do need a little time to "form" correctly and circuits can "heal", but these events happen (IMO) soon after they are initially electrically charged. Electronics that need to operate at a particular temperature is another story and separate (IMO) from "break-in".
All elecrtonic equipment requires break-in time.
All elecrtonic equipment requires break-in time.

But I’d have to imagine that **time** is the operative word, and that can vary from a moment to infinity.
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I'd like to add clarification to my previous post where I wrote "The manufacturer does claim that leaving it on 24/7 is best. ". In this context, "best" means optimal sound quality. Schiit does not reply (adequately) when asked if leaving on 24/7 is detrimental to the "health" and "longevity" of the components/unit.

when u ready to upgrade or change, it's the best thing to know about the break-in.
Regardless of expert opinion to the contrary, I consider "break in", "burn in", and "settling in" effects to be real based on experience with various pieces of electronic gear (as well as cable). Having said that, it doesn’t mean those pieces were unlistenable out of the box...more that the sound improved over time. I wouldn’t sweat the whole break in thing if I were you. Get what you like and use it. Worst case, if the experts are right, it will sound no different over time. On the other hand, you might find the sound gets better with time. Good luck with your purchase.

Thank you to everyone for the informing and thought provoking replies.

My better half has extremely sensitive ears and will only listen to most stereo music at very moderate levels. Our daughter plays the piano, and son the guitar, so naturally that is a powerful gauge for comparing tonality. Fast forward, she shocked me with a new amp she knew I had been researching and reading reviews about on this site, as I have been interested in trying to find an amp speaker combination that had more musical weight at low to moderate volumes. I used a pair of Harbeth's just to try the amp out and change things up, still using our old Arcam CD23. She was absolutely delighted with the change and it's increased low volume control/performance.

Now considering stepping up in cd playback quality, I was really hoping to not go through a period of break-in before things were comfortably listenable. Seems I may be making a big deal out of nothing and should just use the manufacturer trial periods as intended for our decision. Thanks again for every ones time offering a reply.

Worst case, if the experts are right, it will sound no different over time. On the other hand, you might find the sound gets better with time.
+1
This is my philosophy with regard to leaving my Yggdrasil on 24/7 (which I do not) and its break in period (I left it on continuous for the first week).

.....Seems I may be making a big deal out of nothing and should just use the manufacturer trial periods as intended for our decision....
Sounds/reads like a very good plan. Just be mindful in cases where a manufacturer (or owner/user) recommends leaving a component on 24/7 to draw a distinction between "break-in" and "breaking".
Some of the break-in is electronic, and some of it is your ears breaking in to the sound of the new component.  Still, I have experienced myself a system sounding noticeably better after a new component had been in it and running for 100-200 hours.

Regardless of other opinions here, break-in is a real phenomena.  Those that deny this effect have either never been to a trade-show or don't have much experience with new components IMO.

In new electronics, it is caused primarily by the "forming" of dielectrics in capacitors, wiring insulation and the board FR4 glass-epoxy itself. This forming is actually a molecular change that takes place when voltage is applied. Secondarily, it is caused by excess charge that becomes stored in dielectrics due to temp and humidity changes during shipping and handling. Thirdly, because conductors get moved and formed in cables, they need to "settle" again. This has to do with the molecular crystal lattice of the conductors and their interfaces with other conductors, like connectors.

The second and third effects are well-known to show exhibitors. All systems sound best in a 3-day show on Sunday, the last day, because all of the stored charge is bled-off by then and the cables have "rested".

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

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Thanks @audioengr
Helpful explanation.

@twoleftears
I agree that acclimation plays a role in the "break in" process. The entire listening experience is such a crazy complex blend of electrical, mechanical, and psychoacoustic phenomena. It’s a wonder we aren’t still listening to wax cylinders.
I have always felt that acclimation plays a very large role.  I think that manufacturers sometimes specify long burn in times in order to entice a purchaser to continue acclimating past the return period.
@lak ,+1
What nonsense. Break in or forming of dielectric in electrolytic capacitors is only necessary after lengthy storage (many years)

http://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~reese/electrolytics/tec2.pdf
Roberjamin and a few others are correct  seperate everything is good but there are great players out there . I have a Lumin D1 
player which use  dual Wolfsons best dacs and optional Much much better power supplies that Transform this award winning player to something up there with many $8-10k units 
myself bought the Linear Tube Audio Linesr 12 volts powersupply 
a very good power cord is instrumental . I am using a Verastarr Grand illusion Dual Copperfoil.  Synergistic research I don’t care for much of their hype ad ons. But their Blue fuses are very good .
these little things count . MojoAudio make a Very good Linear powersupply I may try   Getting back to a player  you have a external hard drive  plugged in the Lumin library app is Excellent.
plus it has a Roon, Tidal,with full MQA capabilities for under $3k 
not counting the power cord or upgraded Umbilical cord which is 
also Verastarr. You have a versatile music setup , even digital music is possible . Their is other players also. But this player is very analog sounding in many ways. 
Plug it in, stick it in a closet and play a CD and put it on repeat. Come back two days later and you're all set to go. Done.