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I do not know. Most of the stuff written is theory. making something up to allow folks to stop worrying.
All I can say is when I bought a new 7 meter pair of Kimber Hero balanced IC they sucked. Actually sounded horrible when first connected and used. Bright thin sound, Yuck.
Took a few days and they cleared up.
Why I have no real knowledge. If I had to make something up I would say it was the insulation.. or maybe the metal crystal boundaries or something..
Dielectric Absorption is far from a theory and, as anyone that knows anything about cables is aware; they all exhibit capacitance. Much of what takes place(over time), is a stabilization of the, "charge" that the cable's dielectric assumes. Those with air, vacuum or actively biased dielectrics do not seem to take as long to stabilize, which would support that conclusion. Still; there seem to be other things taking place, within the conductors themselves. Most cables, when moved or left without voltages/signals present, will require some time to stabilize again.
Q: What's breaking in?
A: For the most part, the human brain.
Don't underestimate what it is capable of learning WHILE the metals and dialectics are changing.
Don't forget how gullible it can be either. Google "hypnotism" and "effect of suggestion" then go read "some" cable ads.
Trust your ears. If you hear something....good, if you don't....good. Only an idiot would try and tell you that "you" do or don't hear a difference.
Human hearing is very acute (thank you evolution) and right off the bat one can tell if something is amiss even if one is not all that familiar with that something to begin with. Anomalies, when presented, can confound and present themselves as unpleasant, smeared and incoherent. We instinctively know what sounds real.
It doesn't take an expert to doubt what one hears and not be able to put it to words. No amount of time will make it better for the brain to accept if it doesn't change. I'll grant that as time goes by some folk will settle for less but the cable is breaking in.
I've yet to be hypnotized by a cable but I can see where a cobra would get my attention rather quickly and make me do something I wouldn't normally do.
All the best,
A great many explanations can be offered for what MAY be occurring when cable breakin effects are perceived, including those cited in the Cardas paper Mofi linked to, and in the IMO well stated comments that were presented by Mr. Rodman (which I don't see any basis to dispute).
The problem is that none of the explanations that tend to be offered by cable manufacturers or others ever seem to be backed up by analysis establishing in a QUANTITATIVE manner that the claimed effects have a reasonable chance of being audibly significant. In fairness, though, perhaps it is generally not practical or possible for that to be done.
Thus, IMO there is no way to tell how many reports of perceived cable breakin are due to any one or more of the various technical effects that are alleged to occur; or to the placebo effect (coupled with the power of suggestion of the many claims that can be found in manufacturer literature and on the 'net); or to the vagaries of human perception that Onemug alluded to; or, perhaps most significantly in many cases, to failure to recognize and control extraneous variables (for example, assuring identical states of equipment warmup during the different parts of the assessment, ruling out the possibility that changes in AC line voltage or noise conditions may have occurred, ruling out the possibility that ongoing aging or breakin of system components may be occurring, etc.).
My bottom line instinct is that cable breakin effects are real, to some degree, but their significance is exaggerated in the minds of many audiophiles by these other factors.
It seems pretty clear that the cable break in phenomenon is part of the whole cable controvery that has been going on these 35 years or so. Once one breaks away from the basic ideas that all cables sound the same, that higher purity conductors are no different than lower purity ones, that the length of cables doesn't influence the sound, that the dielectric material doesn't change the sound, that thicker conductors are necessarily better than thinner ones, etc. then one can experiment with breaking in cables, how long it takes to break in cables, the best methods for breaking in cables and so forth. A great many cable manufactures have obviously concluded that cryogenics is required to be competitive and quite a few manufacturers offer free Burn In of cables for customers on new fangled burn in devices such as the AudioDharma Cable Cooker. And Break In tracks on Test CDs have been available for at least 20 years. How far can one go with all of this? That is the burning question.
Ignorance on the subject is bliss.
I would bet you have never taken the time to experiment/ listen for differences in cables.
Yes Bojack, there are differences. Some for better, some for worse.
As for "the principles of electrical engineering" what does that mean?
A comment on my experience with the seven meter Kimber Hero. usually I am more of a 'first sound' and have to agree some of the change is just getting used to a sound.
So i was VERY tempted to immediately take off the Hero and return it.
Only because it was seven meters long I gave it a few days running (at low levels day and night) to see if it would change. It did.
Change is constant. Every item in the chain undergoes some form of change with each use. I don't feel a need for gooble-dee-gook or mumbo jumbo to explain this.
Can those changes be heard? I don't make that claim. But then again, I don't spend time listening for them. That's not an attractive aspect of this hobby for me.
I do however, respect the opinions of those who do.