Just run the cd player. That will do it. Or, just as well, a cheap tuner.
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For interconnect break in, I use Densen DeMag 3 minute CD on repeat for about an hour, and it seems to be a very inexpensive audible help. I also have used PAD (Purist Audio Design) CD-R which runs 72 minutes, and is recommended to use for a few hours only for your first conditioning session for a component, later on just for single 72 minute weekly or periodic playthrough. The entire signal chain is benefitted by periodic use of either or both of these. Although demagnetization is mentioned as a goal of these CD's, there is an audible interconnect performance enhancement, just like an interconnect upgrade. Both are played at normal listening volume, while humans, and pets go to another room. Additionally, another inexpensive tweak to enhance interconnect performance can be the Dakiom "feedback stabilizer" at the analog output of your CD player. Money back guarantee, if it doesn't sound better. There are many far more expensive tweaks to attach to ends of interconnects, but Dakiom seems to be great for a "beginner" tweak. I have tube components, and tend to periodically use the Densen DeMag 3 minute CD for 6 or 9 minutes, to get a system benefit, save time, and not run expensive tubes selected to make music, rather than to make funny demagnetization electronic tones.
If you can find a disc with a frequency sweep using a square wave on it, put this on repeat and let it play. Just make sure that you don't have any volume on the system as this can easily take out tweeters and / or sensitive mids.
As far as whether or not the preamp has to be on, that has to do with the preamp. Some preamps disconnect all the inputs via a relay when turned off. Some preamps even shunt unused inputs when turned on. The best way to do it would be to leave your preamp on, set the input selector to your cd player and then leave the volume all the way down and / or engage the muting circuit if you have one. This gives the cd player & interconnects a completed circuit path for the most voltage & current flow. Since square waves are much higher in average amplitude than a sine wave or most types of music, this will tend to break things in both faster and more thoroughly. Sean