Do we break in our componets or do our componets ?

Do we break in our componets or do our componets break us in? I recently added a new addition on to my home. During this process I broke my system down and boxed it up for about 7 weeks. I had dedicated cryoed outlets installed w/ 10 ga romex. The first 10 days or so my sound was horrible with a capital H. I was very distraught to say the least. Over the last 3 days things have changed a lot for the better or so I believe. Have I become adjusted to this sound or did my componets and cables need to break in again? Or is it the breaking in of the new dedicated lines and cryoed outlets? What gives?
The human mind is wonderful at adapting. It is one of those realties that the subjective audiophile is always running against. It is one of those realities that subjective audiophiles refuse to accept and believe that they, through training, superior ears or often total poppycock, can rise above. It ain't necessarily so. There is some kind of window of opportunity in listening to any new system or change in an existing system: listen long enough and it starts to sound good (unless it is atrocious, but very few decent systems fall in that category), jump to quick conclusions on a very short audition and chances are the punchier system will win out. I believe that break-in is first and foremost in the listener. The slight changes that can occur in the equipment itself produce results that are so marginal that one has to strain to hear anything, unless a true believer. Listen to the tunes. Good day.
It's all of the above! Surely we ourselves get broken in somewhat but many of us have experience with breaking in a terrible sounding component without listening to it for several days, and then hearing an enormous improvement. I suppose you could still attribute that to psychological/physiological issues, but then again those of us who have alot of experience have also tried breaking in componenets that just never came around. As to the system requiring re-break-in, I've experienced this also, and attributing this completely to ear/brain issues doesn't hold water when you have other components to compare to (before and after).
It is a little of both.

I have multiple systems at my disposal, so I doubt that I could get use to listening to one system that was sonically painfull to listen to.

But then a couple of them have similar brand components; just a matter of level; such as floorstanding and bookshelf speakers of the same brand, with similar drivers; along with same brand amp (different level model as well); so I do like that sound signature, even though one system is more refined.

The other systems have totally different components, but my guess is that the sound signature is also similar in some respects.
Although it can work both ways as mentioned above, I think in your case the new dedicated lines and cryo’d outlets were and still are in the process of breaking in (depending upon how you do it, could take 10 days to 30 days).
I also know that by having your system put away for several weeks can effect it’s sound until the system warms up it’s power supplies etc again.
Example: I own various cryo’d outlets and power cords. I have tried them with out break-in for 30 minutes (the sound was terrible). Next I installed the outlet or cryo’d cord on my refrigerator for ten days (break-in) and then put the item back into my system. Immediately it sounded good, and still improved with time.
Just my perception on things.
An interesting idea...that it is our hearing that adapts to the audio system. Certainly this is true for eyesight, where serious defects in the visual system are ignored by the brain. The best example of this is the blind spot where the optic nerve enters the retina. Everyone has it, but it doesn't bother us.
Hardly a new idea, though. We adapt to most stimuli. Our hearing changes under different conditions and throughout our lives and yet we are rarely aware of it. Just think about how protective mechanisms change hearing in response to high level sound which some people like to be subjected to.....
Digital stuff really does benefit from being left on so it is warm - that could be a significant source of what you report. Also, when I bought my sony 777 sacd, it didn't sound any better than the (much cheaper) digital front end I had, but over the next 10 days (this player is notorious for lengthy break-in) it improved to the point of being considerably better. In other words, I had the benefit of a constant (the existing front end) to use as a comparison. It wasn't just psychological (at least I think it wasn't...)
Uh, gee, hate to say it but Pbb shared some truth. Lak nailed in perfectly though. Break in is a real deal but usually not making huge differences. I do believe some pieces make break in an agonizing affair though my equipment hasn't done that to me. That being said, the cryo'd outlets are a real break in nightmare. The music changes daily. Getting better, then horribly worse, then better again and again. It will take about a month for things to settle in. You would need to be deaf to not hear this phenomenon.
I agree with most posters above and think it's all the above, changes in AC coming thru, the system getting all charged up (my Quads do it) and you getting accustomed to the sound in your room again. What a relief it's sounding better too, eh? Please come back in a month and tell us how your system is sounding.

Pbb, wouldn't there have to be a point where the ear/brain just throws in the towel and says, sorry, I can't fill in all the holes? I am thinking specifically at a local Best Buy, playing some black cube type HT speakers (the company headed by a Dr. B.) where I had to literally duck to prevent the thin, peaky, beamy sound from assaulting my ears. So bad, I stopped looking for CDs early than I wanted. Simply put, COULD my ears EVER get used to that??
Or should I buy 'em and try 'em at home?
Anyone denying the effects of break-in should try a new (if you can find one) Sony NS-500V SACD player. Out of the box it sounded okay, then it got increasingly awful - one friend said he literally couldn't stand to listen to it -- and gradually it "recovered" and ultimately became downright musical. My second SACD player, a SONY XA777ES, went through the same metamorphosis although not as dramatically. Again, I was not the only one to hear it happen. The whole process took a long time, at least 100 playing hours and probably much more. I've had other break-in experiences that were equally real but not as marked.
Here's a tip, let your friend break in your new equipment for 2 months... Don't listen to it at all until it's broken in... Once broken in, bring back the new item in your system. If it sounds harsh and then later start sounding better then it's your ears that are getting used to the bad sound :-)
Some stuff definitely needs to break in.

I've seen amps that sound pretty good out of the box, but
are missing the bass and over the next few weeks, playing the
gear continuously, the bass fills in, highs extend, etc.

This doesn't mean you have to like the sound after the
component has broken in.

You do have to give your gear time, but you also have to
trust your ears. If you find yourself continually *trying*
to like your system -- that's probably a warning sign of
some sort.

IMO, you have to give each component a fair shot, but you also have to be willing to move on and try other stuff in
your system until you're happy.

Tinker, tinker, tinker.

IMO, this is what is so *PERFECT* about Audiogon. You can
usually purchase a component used, try it in your system --
keep it immaculate, save the packaging, etc. -- most cases the gear should be broken in if it is used -- but, I've bought used stuff that still broke in further -- and if after giving it a fair shot it doesn't work, sell it for close to what you paid.

As you mix and match, you'll get a feel for how different
components affect the sound, which piece in your system is'the "weak link," etc.

Don't stop until you're happy.

Hughes 12:
Welcome to the break-in wars. All our products are broken-in before sale or demo; you now have an insight to the problem. An unbroken-in piece of wire smaller than one inch will throw a system into a tail spin. Any solder joint that has been re-connected will do the same. We found using a tuner for a source or applying a large amount of current did not get the job done. So we were stuck playing music 24/30. To solve the problem we collaborated with another company and the outcome was the “Cable Cooker”. But now a new problem has emerged. As the products resolution increases so does the duration of break-in time. What once took 3 days on the “cooker” is now taking 3 weeks [our most advanced designs]. Every time you push the envelope, the envelope pushes back.
"An unbroken-in piece of wire smaller than one inch will throw a system into a tail spin."

I'm a believer in "break in," but I would have to say I'm skeptical about taking "break in" this far. Maybe it depends on the definition of "tail spin."

Life is not based on speculation; try it and discover.
People get broken in to qualities that are not too offensive, as in mostly neutral qualities (as opposed to nasty or nice qualities) and more benign qualities (e.g. our own heart beat and rims of a new pair of glasses). The psych response will not make ugly seem beautiful.
Corona --

I've never had my system thrown into a "tail spin" because
of an unbroken in piece of wire smaller than one inch. I
question the chain of events that would cause such a thing.

I only say this to repsond to the subject of the thread.

Are there people who believe in break in?

I would say, some do, some don't, and some go so far as
to profess that a unbroken in wire smaller than one inch
will throw their system into a "tail spin."

I am positioning myself somewhere in the middle.

I believe in "break in" but obviously not to what I would call "the extreme."

I would only add -- not to be insulting, but just as a general caution to people getting into audio -- I would
be skeptical of anyone trying to sell me something like
a "cable cooker" based on the proposition that if I don't
my system may go into a "tail spin." I've never experienced anything in my life in audio that would cause me such a fear.

In all cases, best thing to do is trust one's ears.


The "Cable Cooker" is not mine to sell; that is not the point I was trying to make.
I am sure that EVERYONE agrees that Loudspeakers change (hopefully improve) with initial use. The compliant surround softens up with flexing, so that the dynamic characteristics of the unit change. There is similar logical reason to accept that phono pickups "break in".

It's a fact that large electrolytic capacitors (used in power supplies) "form" their dielectric during initial use. Whether or not the resulting change of capacitance has any significant effect on the DC, and any audible effect on the amplifier output is debatable. Film capacitors? Wires? To believe they need breakin a bit of faith is required.

When it comes to inanimate objects like metallic speaker cones and granite equipment racks a whole lot of faith is required. How about the air in the listening room, through which the sound travels? Does it need breakin?

My point is that everyone's opinion begins with belief (for the obvious speakers) and goes down the list of less and less technically-logical situations to some point where you say "that's ridiculous". We may have different opinions about where that cutoff point is.

Who is right? Both of us of course. This is a free country and you may practice whatever religion you like.
Everything that is exaggerated is insignificant...
Eldart -- well put.
Actually, faith is required to believe that any component does not break-in, because changes caused by passing an electrical current / magnetic field through just about anything are indeed measurable. So the only question is whether anyone can hear it. Wouldn't it be something if we found out color blind people were actually percieving the correct colors, and the rest of us were just seeing things!
Mrowlands...It is impossible to prove a negative. It's a darned good bet that the air in your listening room doesn't require breakin, but I can't prove that to your satisfaction, and if you want to believe that it does, be my guest.
In my opinion it is about 90% component break-in and 10% you breaking in. The way I see it, if it was you being broken in then all your friend's audio systems would sound horrid and never appear to you to be breaking in, all systems at audio shows would sound horrid, as would all dealer demos. The other possibility is that all those that have experienced break in simply have horrid systems and the only reason they enjoy them at all is that they have broken in. While possible, I would have to dismiss that possibility having a reasonable likelihood. In essence, what I experience with a new component is not mirrored when I move from listening to my system to listening to an unfamiliar system. Therefore this convinces me that there is no weight to the theory that it is just us breaking in and not the equipment. Other experiences suggest there is reality to the view that we break in, but the effect seems much less dramatic to me than component break in.
It's all in your head...

I once went to a doctor complaining of a really bad pain in my left kidney area. After eight months of him sticking things up my ass and generally mistreating me I finally went into the hospital under the care of another physician. Within three hours I was diagnosed with cancer. Within two days it was pinned down to mixed cell nodular lymphoma. My family wanted me to get a second opinion. So, packing my medical records I flew to Minnesota to the Mayo clinic. While on the plane I read the first doctors initial entry into my medical records. He said it was in my head. Would you please quit sticking it in our ass and telling us it's in our heads. This crap is getting old. You need a hearing aid.
Whether it is in my head or not, I perceive break in when I buy new components. That is what is, hence it is an issue. I do not perceive the same effect with a system that is simply unfamiliar. Based on this experience it is sensible for me to not make hasty judgements about equipment that is new - yet fast judgements are more sound when the equipment has been "broken in", whether familiar or not. Therefore I behave accordingly, because to do so makes sense. If you Pbb do not perceive break in - then that is your reality and it is sensible for you to act accordingly. Whether our differences are due to me deluding myself into believing something, just for the sake of it, or whether it is due to your closed little mind refusing to believe the evidence of your ears, neither of us will ever know for sure. I have stated what I believe. You have stated yours. Your stooping to denigrating others to support your point of view only succeeds in diminisjing yourself.
Just one point about "believing one's ears" as opposed to trusting electrical engineering science.

I fly airplanes, sometimes in the clouds. When flying on instruments it is quite common to have a very strong feeling that you are turning left or right, climbing or decending. The feeling is very real, but a trained pilot knows that it is an illusion, and he trusts his instruments which tell him what the plane is really doing.

Optical illusions are well known. There are times when one cannot believe their eyes.

So too there are times when you should not believe your ears, unless, of course, you like what you hear. In that case, dream on and enjoy it, but don't insist that it's reality.
I won't insist its reality, if you don't insist that because something is not explained by exixtsing knowledge, then it cannot be reality. No real scientist would be so closed minded. The history of science is littered with bad scientists that insisted their theories were the truth only to have them disproven. I don't find your analogy Eldartford to be a terribly good analog of the issue at all. But how about the analog of those that insisted the planets revolved around Earth. Are the claims that there cannot be component break in any different? If so, please explain how? It was more open minds that were prepared to accept observations that were more consistent with a new theory, that led to progress, not the closed mindedness of the bad scientists that insisted that everything was already known and anything inconsistent with that had to be heresy.
Redkiwi, I have been having this discussion with the "measurement people" since the day I started on this board.(and long before) It doesn't matter what you say, if they can't measure it, they don't think it exists. Very simple, and I have come to accept that they will never think any other way. Even though you could have 2 tubes that are (different brand)exact replacements for each other, and test exactly the same, they have different sound. Even though you could have 2 capacitors that have exactly the same capacitance, and they sound different. Etc. Etc. Until the day that Triplett makes a meter that has a "Sound Quality" setting on its dial, these guys will never believe it. It's because they don't know how to go about measuring what needs to be measured, so they blame it on others' "psychological perceptions". This is not new, it was going on in the 70s, when these same guys all told us that any amp with .00001% measured distortion(like a $199 Sansui) sounded as good as a $10k audiophile amp(or even better because the $10k amp didn't measure as well). The measurements proved it, and we were all "out to lunch" for spending $10k on our amps. Whoops! They screwed up on their measurement procedures, didn't they? All that global feedback actually did screw things up, didn't it? But boy, it measured good, and that was all that mattered. I would have thought that after 20+ years, people would have woken up, but apparently that is not the case. Meter in hand, they are still preaching the "Bench Tech Gospel". Now, to be fair, there are some worthwhile measurements, and I use them for what they are good for. They can tell you some things. But that's all. When I want to hear what equipment sounds like, I listen to it, I don't plug it into an oscilloscope.

As you say, and as is evidenced by "real scientists" like quantum researchers, there are things that are beyond our ability to measure, but are real. The problem is not with the existence/non-existence of these things, but our ability to measure them. Science lags behind, and is nothing more than an attempt to measure and explain things that we percieve. To state that something cannot exist because we lack the measurement skills to quantify it, is turning science on its head, and is very unscientific, to say the least. When they say that it is like "instrument flying" with need to rely on instruments, they are being genuine, and really think that it is the same thing, and are really trying to be helpful.

I don't expect any of the "measurement people" to agree with me on this, because it is sort of like any other "epiphany" experience. Until you realize it, you think people who have, are nuts.

So I just accept these people at the level that they are at, and don't expect them to understand. They are operating at a level that many here have surpassed years ago, and not everybody in this hobby operates at the same level. Of course, there is some "snake oil" out there too, and most experienced people can "sniff that out" without much trouble. I try not to argue too much about this, because it is useless, for the most part, and non-productive, and generally just gets people pissed-off. Ocassionally, like today, I'll post something about it. I don't really blame anyone for taking this position, because they actually think they are right. So it's up to us to make sure others know that there is more to this than meets the meter's needle.

I'll probably get flamed for this, but my opinion is as good as the next guy's. Unfortunately, we don't have an "opinion meter" to measure which is correct.
Twl --

I don't think you'll get flamed. I think you've made a nice
argument for your position. But, as I read the thread, I
don't see anyone taking the positions you are arguing
against. It seems that someone mentioned "instruments" and that was close enough for you to project your "measurement" opponent onto him. So, while you make a cogent argument, it seems you had to set up a straw man to do it. Other than that, I sense
some typical audio one-ups-man-ship in your post. It
seems you really want us to know you can hear things
that can't be measured. And, this is the typical response to the measurement types -- the claims of
"golden ears." I am skeptical of both sides in the
argument. Finally, there is the infamous study where
they gathered a group of audio reviewers with "golden ears" and had them listen to a sound system. Next,
they showed the group different speaker cables. As
each cable was substituted for the previous, the group
marveled at how different each set of cables sounded.
The problem was that thye cables were never changed.
It was 16 gage zip cord all along. So, there are charlatans everywhere. People who claim to hear things others can't and people who deny the existence
of things that cannot be measured. IMO, anyone trying
to navigate around this field should approach ALL claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.

With all due respect, I think you're either missing the point or haven't been around here long enough to recognize that this is an old debate with fairly clearly drawn sides. Although I'm a relative newbie compared to Tom (Twl), Redkiwi, and several others who regularly post on this site, I have experienced the reality of break-in several times with new equipment. I remember quite clearly being shocked when I dropped my brand new out of the box Bel Canto amps into my system and discovered, to my amazement, that some of the music was suddenly missing from some albums I had played so many times I knew them note for note. After trying everything I knew to fix the "problem," I immediately posted a panicky message on this board and placed a call to my dealer. In a short time, several more experienced members told me to settle down and give the amps time to break in. I let them play for several days pretty much non-stop, and believe it or not, after about a week, the "missing" parts reappeared, the sound became much richer, and I was able to start breathing again. Bear in mind, I had NO preconceived ideas about break-in at the time--I just knew something was way wrong with the music when I hooked up my new amps. I didn't need an audiophile or any sophisticated instruments to tell me this--it was just obvious. The break-in for my new Piega speakers was also obvious.

The notion that those people who have experienced this phenomenom are delusional or elitists is, quite frankly, insulting. Now you want to add that we are also just imagining the debate about it as well.

Eldartford does make a good point which does coexist with the obviously correct notion that we observe things that are not currently subject to measurement. People do make inaccurate observations, and can cued in to doing so. Rsbeck was the one who understood the point, Twl posts about this as much his opposition, and Redikiwi started the argument with no one: "I won't insist its reality, if you don't insist that because something is not explained by exixtsing knowledge, then it cannot be reality." As much as hate to talk about it, we sure are eager to.
I think TWL did rather well at avoiding being impolite, in circumstances where it is hard not to feel exasperated.

Rsbeck, I approach all new claims that do not fit my preconceptions with a good deal of scepticism - perhaps even unhealthy scepticism when it suggests I have spent my money on my existing system unwisely. But I would hope you would also approach claims that might lead to greater enjoyment of reproduced music with a healthy degree of open-mindedness that would at least let you listen for yourself.

If it is possible that we do not know everything that is meaningful in the reproduction of music (which I would judge a near certainty rather than just a possibility), then the value of these forums ought to be that posters can report their experiences, and if several posters report similar experiences, then the rest of us will have the opportunity to decide to try for ourselves or ignore the new possibility.

If it is possible that break in exists, then it is also possible that many audiophiles that do not know about it have made gross misjudgements of products that they have had at home for an overnight trial. Such poor audiophiles will have wasted their time and missed out on some otherwise excellent products. Do you not think that these forums ought to serve to improve the way we select products?

I am reminded in this debate of the observation that libertarians have high opinions of their fellow "man", and socialists are the reverse. Do the "it is in your head" posters perhaps have a low opinion of their fellow "man" and feel the need to protect the poor suckers from charlatanism and decry any new possibility simply because people have to be saved from themselves? Is it lack of respect for posters of new ideas? Or do they want to close down possibilities because it scares them - after all we are hurtling through space at frightening speed on a rock we cannot control, you know?

I have no problem with having scepticism. But I don't think that is the same thing as rudely, stupidly, closed-mindedly stating "it is in your head" to someone that has reported accurately here what they they have perceived happening in over 30 years in this hobby.

Would you have it that no poster should report their experiences and beliefs unless there has been scientific corroboration of the effect first? I would have it that we can each state our beliefs about what reality is - whether for or against a new possibility. I don't believe this forum is benefitted by posters that post their beliefs about others based on what those others believe.
Check my post of 8/11 and you will see that I expressed the thought that at some level we are all of the same view about breakin, but we draw the line of "ridiculous" at different points.

Does anyone doubt that speakers change with use?

Does anyone think that listening room air needs breakin?

I tried to pick the extreems in both directions.
>this is an old debate with fairly clearly drawn sides<

That's an interesting idea. That one can trot out all of
one's old arguments regardless of the stimulus. I think
it would be better to follow the thread at hand and deal
with points that have been made rather than railing
against phantom "measurement people."

But hey -- maybe that's just me.
Rsbeck, sorry you didn't approve of my "straw man" tactics. Upon re-reading the thread, it appears I did go off on a bit of a tangent, that didn't directly address the point of the thread. I guess it is because I have had this type of discussion so many times that I know where it comes from, and don't really have hear a certain phrase to realize it.

However, I do apologize, because others may not have been particularly interested in reading about what the root of the problem is, and would prefer to discuss other aspects. That is perfectly fine, and I will relent based on that.