Interconnects Roller Coaster Ride


I purchased a pair of Morrow MA-1 interconnects, burned them in 24/7 for 500 hours. At present, I'm at about 550 hours. Each night I now listened to my system for about three hours. For two straight nights, the sound is gorgeous with the Morrows. Then the third night things sound bad. This pattern has repeated itself twice now. My assumption was that once the interconnects have been fully burned in, they will stabilize and will always sound good. Has anyone experienced this continued roller coster ride in good-to-poor sound from the Morrows?
kisawyer
Just curious, but what leads you to conclude that the Morrows are responsible for the fluctuations you are perceiving? How do you know that it is not something in one of your components, such as tubes, or fluctuations in AC line voltage or noise conditions, or any of many other conceivable causes?

Regards,
-- Al
I agree it would not be the cables. Perhaps the cables allow you to hear this phenomenon which was in your system before.. but not as noticable?
Sometimes clearing up a layer of haze allows you to find a flaw not heard before, which was present anyway.. You just could not hear it.
I have owned several pairs of Morrow Audio cables and have never experienced anything like you mention. The cables are very stable after 500 hours and should not exhibit what you are experiencing.

I would look at voltage and incoming AC to see if they are stable.
"For two straight nights, the sound is gorgeous with the Morrows. Then the third night things sound bad. This pattern has repeated itself twice now."

I would be careful with regards to that statement. It may just look like a pattern. If you are not listening to your system all the time, there's no way to tell if the problem is occurring at other times, as well. If you lock yourself in to looking for a pattern, you may miss what is really going on.

I agree with the others. Its probably not the cables. I'll list a few things that could possibly be the cause.

-Maybe not all of your other components are not fully warmed up. I've had components that needed to be left on for well over a day in order for them to sound good.

-The time of day/night you are listening. You are much more likely to pick up some type of A/C noise during times with more people are using electricity.

-Your hearing may be temporally "off". If you are exposed to a lot of noise, your system will sound different until your hearing has a chance to adjust. For example, if you've ever came out of a night club, you may have noticed that your car stereo is hard to hear for a little while.

-Your cables may not be well shielded and are picking up noise because of it. That's not a break in issue, though.

-A component that is not in use, but is still in your system, may be causing the problem. That happens all the time and is very easy to overlook. For example, I bought a Sony DVD player to try SACD a few years back. After a few days, I realized that my system wasn't sounding right. I had no idea what the problem and fixed it by accident when I unhooked the Sony. If that's the case, you can fix the problem with a conditioner that isolates or a cable like the JPS Labs digital A/C.

Thats all I can think if for now. If I come up with anything else, I'll post.
Maybe that was an off day that you yourself were not feeling in the pink. We don't every day feel the same.
Kisawyer, I have never heard a wire or a component, that does go through some breakin. I presently have the High Fidelity CT-1Es cables that are into their second month and still showing improvements on occasion. These cables don't show the roll-a-coaster pattern you describe, but I have often heard it with other things. Mostly, these seem to be twenty-four hours phenomena as the day after sounding great, they sound awful. In addition I find that cables just don't like to be moved at all. This makes comparing cables very time consuming and difficult. Normally, I do a/b/a comparisons with the last b versus a compromising both cables equally, Of course a may be fully broken in.

While your feeling better one day or the electricity being better one day are conceivable, I don't find those hypotheses very credible as the comparison usually hold on later days when I redo the comparison.

I just wanted to weigh in as I think this is pretty characteristic of cables.
I'm betting a storm moved in on the day the sound got worse. Low pressure systems are bad news.
Tbg,

I don't understand what you are talking about. You start off by saying you've never heard a wire or a component that goes through break in, but you go on to say that cables don't like to me moved. Thats a break in issue.

Something tell me I just may not be reading your post correctly. Can you clarify?
Kisawyer air base?
I think it's magic.
As in the UP?
Zd542, sorry my omission of "does not" sure ruined what I was trying to say.
Sorry for the delay in answering, but I've been having technical problems with posting this response.

All excellent comments.

I suspected the Morrows because once I installed them and heard how well they sounded I immediately knew what to listen for during my sessions. When the sound degraded, I suspected the cables. The cables have never been moved during this entire process. The Morrow MA-1 interconnects are well shielded, I believe.

Most of my listening is at night between 9:00 p.m. — 12:00 midnight.

The suggestion that perhaps with the Morrows, I am becoming aware of some other problem that was not revealed before is food for thought.

Regarding line voltage, there is no way I personally know of for testing that. But I have noticed a halogen lamp in my adjacent room cycling in brightness for periods of time some evenings while I am listening. Would that be an indication of line voltage variation?

My preamplifier and amplifier are tubes (Audio Research SP-1C, and Dual 75). They are quite old, but were up to specifications last time they were checked out by ARC. The output tubes in the amp are at 200 hours.

My speakers are KLH Nines (double Nines), so I think I hear pretty much what is being fed them. With the Morrows, the sound has opened up even more. That's why I'm so frustrated. Once you hear how good the cables make things sound, you want that all the time.

Additional comments welcomed. Thank you all. I’ll keep you updated.

Yes, it is K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in the UP, Michigan!
Regarding line voltage, there is no way I personally know of for testing that. But I have noticed a halogen lamp in my adjacent room cycling in brightness for periods of time some evenings while I am listening. Would that be an indication of line voltage variation?
Yes, it certainly could be. According to this Wikipedia writeup on Halogen lamps, their light output is approximately proportional to a voltage change, expressed as a ratio, raised to the third power. Meaning that a 5% increase in voltage would cause about a (1.05^3) = 16% increase in light output. That is slightly less than the effect that a similar voltage change would have on the output of a regular incandescent bulb, where the light output is approximately proportional to the voltage ratio raised to the 3.4 power, resulting in a 5% voltage increase causing an increase of about (1.05^3.4) = 18% in light output.

Regards,
-- Al
I would expect that line voltage variation would affect your preamp, amps and speakers.

It might be a good idea to get a voltmeter in the same room with you. If the system is sounding good, make a note of the line voltage. Do the same for when it is not and then compare. You'll find out very quickly what is up.
I am very confident it's not the wires.

If the pattern repeats itself at regular listening intervals, most likely it is your ears picking up on something that is not right after a certain period of time. The new ICs may just be enabling this to a greater extent than prior.

More info on what sounds "bad" the third night would be helpful to facilitate some more useful feedback perhaps.
I am very confident it's not the wires.

If the pattern repeats itself at regular listening intervals, most likely it is your ears picking up on something that is not right after a certain period of time. The new ICs may just be enabling this to a greater extent than prior.

More info on what sounds "bad" the third night would be helpful to facilitate some more useful feedback perhaps.

With tube gear, the tubes themselves (old? weak? not operating up to spec?) should always be an early suspect when something is not sounding right.
Mapman, I cannot imagine how anyone can say confidently that it is not the wires. But I know how fruitless this argument is.

Kisawyer, Radio Shack has inexpensive digital meters that will allow you to monitor your line voltage.

But the real question is how has your sound been since you first posted. If I am right, it would be getting better. If you find it varies by the time of day or continues to get worse, our hypotheses need to change.
By wires, I mean the ICs that are/were the OPs prime suspect.

May or may not be power related and/or anything else at this point. I'd definitely try to rule out tube issues up front unless I knew for sure all tubes in play are working as they should.
Well, maybe it could be the wires. I am going through a similar thing right now. My case is a bit different though. I installed a new interconnect from which I had no idea what to expect. Right out of the box, no break-in and the sound was delightful. Who ever heard of this happening?Open, clear as a bell, realistic timbres, powerful, but controlled bass, tons of ambiance, etc. Even while in the shower I heard a musical rightness coming from the other room. Now a few days later and it is dullsville. Not a bad cable, but nothing like that first impression. I am chalking it up to the "rollercoaster ride" of break-in. What puzzles me though is that you have already put many hours on your cables and they still don't seem to stabilize. Time will tell in my case whether this cable comes back to life, or did my system just crave a leaner, brighter perspective. Please, I would like to request a cable that sounds like this un broken-in one!
Kisawyer 04-06-13
I purchased a pair of Morrow MA-1 interconnects, burned them in 24/7 for 500 hours.

Kisawyer 04-08-13
I suspected the Morrows because once I installed them and heard how well they sounded I immediately knew what to listen for during my sessions. When the sound degraded, I suspected the cables. The cables have never been moved during this entire process.
If I understand correctly, you therefore burned them in 24/7 for 500 hours using one or more of the components in the system.

In addition to AC line conditions, tubes, and several of the other possible explanations that have been suggested, that seems to me to cast suspicion on whichever component or components were being operated for those 500 hours. Especially if the component(s) that were operated for those 500 hours are of comparable age to those that are listed in your system description.

Personally, I see no reason to suspect the cables, and lots of reasons to suspect many other things.

Regards,
-- Al
KiSAWYER.....are you near an airport/military base??.... I had a similar problem that I traced to radar interference....... I moved, you probably can't.
Thanks to all for your responses.

As I mentioned, the output tubes in the power amp have about 200 hours on them. I am able to check the bias often, and keep them within specifications. The other smaller tubes in both the power amp and preamp have more hours on them but according to ARC, need only to be changed after two cycle changes of the output tubes. That is, about 4,000 hours.

I'll look into the line voltage issue and see if I can check that out with the volt meter as suggested.

The same components were used during both the burn in and listening sessions. The burn in was through my CD player to the preamp (which was turned off), as recommended by Morrow. I simply reconnected the CD player into the system for the actual listening sessions.

I do live near an Air Force Base. Not K.I. Sawyer in Michigan, but Luke AFB in Arizona.

Thanks to all for the great suggestions. I'll keep everyone informed on further listening and what I ultimately find out.
Has anyone experienced this continued roller coster ride in good-to-poor sound from the Morrows?
FWIW, I have used both MA-1's and MA-3's from Morrow and I have not noticed the effect you are describing. Anything is possible, but I think variations in line voltage is a much better hypothesis, and easily tested.

Bryon
The other smaller tubes in both the power amp and preamp have more hours on them but according to ARC, need only to be changed after two cycle changes of the output tubes. That is, about 4,000 hours.
Keep in mind that any electronic or mechanical component, be it a tube, a capacitor, a CD transport mechanism, or anything else, can develop a problem (intermittent or otherwise) at any time. While admittedly that stands a greater chance of occurring at times that are either early or late in the life of the part or component, compared to in between, the multitude of possible explanations that have been suggested should be weighed against the likelihood that the sonic effects of an interconnect cable would fluctuate to the extent you have described, after 500 hours. I'll add, btw, that I've had brand new small signal tubes abruptly fail after as little as 2 hours.

Given that you used the CD player for burn-in, yet another possibility, in addition to those suggested in the posts above, would be dirt accumulation affecting its optical mechanisms, and/or wear and tear on its optical or mechanical mechanisms. Either of those possibilities could conceivably affect electrical noise conditions in the player, jitter, or the need to utilize interpolation to correct read errors. Perhaps intermittently.

Interesting input from Stringreen. As someone having significant experience with radar equipment, and although most radars transmit at frequencies well into the gigahertz region, I wouldn't rule out the possibility.

In any event, good luck with the investigation.

Regards,
-- Al
I believe I have identified the problem. In various readings of posts on Audiogon regarding interconnects, someone mentioned that the equipment or speakers need time to warm up. I had noticed a pattern in the past few weeks that the sound was not good when I began listening, but improved after about 2 1/2 hours of continuous listening. Someone pointed out that it takes planar speakers (also electrostatics?) time to warm up as well as tubes. So today I turned on the system and played music. At first, it did not sound very good, so I left it on for over three hours playing various musical selections. When I sat down to listen three-four hours later...WOW. The Morrow sound I had briefly heard had returned. So my belief is that I simply have to let the tubes and speaker "warm up." I never experienced this before and believe it took the Morrows to bring this to light. I now do not think that the Morrow interconnects were the problem, but the components and speakers needing time to "warm up."