SHM SACD's need to be burned in

I recently purchased Aja on a SHM sacd. I have never purchased any single disc at this price,but the chance of aquiring one of my favorite albums on SACD made me go for it.
I was so excited the day it arrived. I warmed up my system for a half an hour and popped it in. WHAT A DISAPOINTMENT!
The bass was bloated and the highs rolled off. It was inferior to my two redbook copies sonically(MFSL ultradisc and 1999 remaster).
I went on various forums to see if others had the same opinion as mine. To my surprise what I gathered was that playing these SHM SACD's about ten times to burn in improves the sound. I didn't beieve it but I had the disc already so .....
I played it on repeat on my cdp for two days straight. I then warmed up my system the same way and expected little change.
Much to my surprise the base tighten up,the highs improved and the soundstage organised itself. If I hadn't heard this for myself I never would have believed it.The mofi wasn't in the ballpark anymore!
Anyone else with a simular experience?

I still don't believe it.
Hi Rwwear,
Yesterday, I didn't beleive it either. I'm still astonished by the change. The difference is dramatic and the sound so altered that I can't chalk it up to placebo effect or justify the expense I laid out for it.
It wasn't as good last week as my two other versions and now it is clearly superior. Whatever the reason I am happy{:

I still don't believe it either. Was your SACD player on for as long as you had it on playing the disc (2 days) before you first listened to the disc? Maybe that has something to do with it?
Hi Rcprince,
I never turn off my cdp, and do not even use the standby mode ever. Let me also add that I stopped the burning in process a few hours before my listen session last night.
I am as shocked by this as you and Rwwear are and am not surprised by your doubts.
You should purchase another copy of the SACD and see if you can tell the difference if someone else loads the player.

Also, you should see this effect on other CDs if it's real.

How does a laser change a disk? If it did, then they should also continiue to change over time and eventually wear out.
I'm sure it's your squishy wetware that "burned in", not a piece of plastic.
Maybe you changed a setting in the esoteric. The poor sound you described is what esoteric's sound like when the multiple channel is selected in the menu.
I don't know what all the skepticism is all about. Why shouldn't a new type of plastic polymer change after exposure to a laser? There are all sorts of semi explainable phenomena in magical land of audiophildom.
In all seriousness, the closest that I've come to this experience was getting a new SACD recording of a particular piece of organ music (Saint Seans Symphony No.3). The two recordings were so very different that the first time I listened to the SACD it didn't sound that good to me. Now that my expectations have adjusted I prefer the SACD because it's a much higher quality sound.

You expect the SACD to sound better so it's quite possible that after hearing it once the "shock" of the different sound didn't overshadow it's improved quality.

In the case of the organ music, the SACD relative volume of the organ vs. the rest of the instruments is much lower, but the sound quality is amazing and after reading how it was recorded it sound exactly as it should.

I have tickets to a live performance in a couple of months so I'm excited to see how it can really sound on a great organ.

This is similar to the experience of drinking a clear soda thinking it's grapefruit and finding out that it's a different flavor. You may like the new flavor, but not until your expectation/perception changes.
Cerrot, The Esoteric SA-10 settings are pretty basic and nothing was changed.
Mceljo, I listened to the SACD twice when I first got it and was disappointed both times. The triangles on the Aja cut was barely audible.Gadd`s drumming, when they got loud were boomy or bloated just did not measure up to the mofi or the redbook. I cannot explain why it sounds better then the other formats now but it does. The drums sound wonderful and the light triangle is both natural and decay beautifully.
I also brought the disc over to a friend who wanted to hear it. He has a very high Esoteric front end and he thought the disc was ok at best.
I want him to hear it again now.

What a load of crap. The only thing it takes10 times to do is convince yourself that it really sounds worth playing an 11th time.
I played it on repeat on my cdp for two days straight.
What evidence is there that the changes were the result of effects on the disk, as opposed to effects on the player? The facts that you leave the player turned on all the time (presumably with nothing playing much of the time), and that you stopped the burn-in process a few hours before the re-assessment, do not seem to me to constitute such evidence.

-- Al
Maybe your carpets and/or drapes weren't fully burned in.

Or perhaps your humidifer was off by a couple percent.

Maybe the kitty litter box needed filling.

It could have been the jewel case not receiving enough ultraviolet light as well.

Speaking of, always use a 30 block on those plastic cases.
I have many SHM-SACDS; there is not burn-in or other mystical phenomena associated with their sound.
Al-The player is over two years old and well over 1500 hours on it. Since I have had it,It has over 700 hours alone. The sound is pretty consistant and my system has stablized a long time ago.
Bar81-Since you have many SHM SACD's,are they worth it in your opinion?
I'm not going to argue something that is perplexing to me as well. As I have said I would feel the same, If I hadn't experienced it for myself.
I am not the only one who has reported simular with this same sacd. See this link.
You can also google "SHM SACD burning in" and get some feedback as well.
Some may say cables being burned in or frozen improve the sound "as load of crap as well".I just find this interesting and never experienced this before on any disc.

It really depends on the SHM-SACD. Overall, in my experience, I have been very pleased as the majority are excellent but there are certain titles that stand out on both end of the spectrum - top notch (Who's Next, Wheels of Fire, Paranoid, Aja, Velvet Underground & Nico) and nothing special (generally anything based on old masters - Stones, Police, etc.)

Unfortunately, I haven't really been excited regarding any of the recent December releases and announced upcoming titles (My Generation is the only one I am definitely buying) but it is nice to see that Universal has abandoned its earlier strategy and is now solely focused on new flat transfers for all upcoming SHM-SACDs.
"squishy wetware"
Love it.
Your ears were just rested and in a better mood.
Bar81- Thank you for the feedback regarding the SHMs.Based on what you have said,I will buy a couple more.I chose Aja because it is not available on SACD any other way and I enjoy the format when done right.
Rrwear-Perhaps you are right,but the difference is significant enough that I'm perplexed now.
Audiofeil-My carpets have about 2000 hours on them and my drapes the same. I'm was using only a 20 spf at the beginning but I upgraded to a 50 on the jewel cases.
Do you think that was the reason?

Yes I wanted to ask about the effect that Squishy Wetware has on Hardware myself. This could be important to maintain fidelity between them.
I don't want to insult you, but maybe you had your ears washed?
You heard what you heard.

How we perceive sound has to do with a lot of factors other than vibrations passing through the air.

I wouldn't go out and buy SHM versions of all my favorites based on one experience but I would buy another SHM-SACD and see if the same thing happens again.
1. Assuming Montejay is not trying to pull our leg and this is not a joke, we have to take the difference he heard at face value.
2. The question then is what caused the difference in sound he heard.
3. IMO: Montejay is assuming that SHM-SACD burn-in caused the difference he heard. Personally, I find this explanation implausible because we would have heard of this phenomenon before if it was relatively common. The fact is, as far as I can tell, none of us here have heard of SHM-SACD burn-in before.
4. Then we are left with speculating on other possible causes.
PS: SHM-SACDs are relatively new so probably not that many in USA yet.
PSS: I have a number of SHM-CDs and have not noticed this situation with them.
Hi Rja,
I'm absolutely serious. Go over to AA sacd forums or the link I mentioned earlier. They are discussing this as well. The theories are of course inclusive,but my intial question is answered.There are others who have heard simular results with the SHM SACD.;-)

This claim is taking voodoo high-end to a whole new level.

Thenagain, my CD demagnetizer worked so why wouldn't SACD burn in!
i had a similar experience last night! i sat down last night for a little critical listening of my rig and noticed something was not right. i checked all of my connections and settings and everything seemed ok. i then realized that i was wearing a new pair of jeans! i took them off, threw em in the washer, and burned them in using the dryer. i put my jeans back on, sat down, cranked up the volume and everything came back to life! i'm pretty sure the bass is tighter now too! tonight i am going to burn in my new cable box which does not go through my stereo but figure it might help since it sits on the same rack as my audio equipment. hopefully this will expand my soundstage!
Rayray8 - I think you made a typo in your last post. There seems to be an extra "b" at the beginning of the noun name of the thing that got tighter as a result of your jeans going through the dryer. Makes perfect sense to me. It's probably happened to all of us.
I have about 50 of these and have never noticed any such thing.
Hi Tbg,
Are your SHMs sacds?I'm not surprised at all by your statement. Who would look for a cd to improve after repeated listens. I would not look for it and also wouldn't have searched out other reviews of this sacd if I hadn't been disapointed in this Aja the first couple of times I heard it. As stated earlier,I will be taking it over to the one other person who heard it when new and see if he can tell if there is a difference.He is very experienced and himself doubts there could have been any change.I will post his reaction.
I am surprised and amused by some of the posts here.There is a bit more open mindness over at the Audio Asylum. I thought the 'gon was a kinder gentler place to interact.

It should be expected that "crazy" ideas would be more acceptable in an Asylum.
Sounds to me like your speaking from personal experience:)

Ah! The power of suggestion. Amazing isn't it? We shouldn't be hard on Montejay. And we shouldn't be too surprised either. If we think back, I'm sure each of us could relate to this based on some audio-mystic phenomenon in our own past. But thanks for the laugh Monte, this one's a lulu.
You have 50 SHM-SACDs?
There's only been about 70 released so far in Japan at 4286Yen each or US$51.14 each using todays exchange rate plus shipping of course. CDUniverse lists these at $80.29 each.
Are you sure you're not thinking SHM-CD?
Montejay - While I don't think most people would consider me to be "crazy" there's no doubt that I generally "see" things differently than the masses.

When I watched the first Ford commercial that said that they were matching Toyota's quality my first thought was to wonder if they realized that they were essentially admitting that they hadn't in the past.

Also, we Ford first started the new generation of the F-150 and the excellent series of advertisements I had to actually setup a VCR to record one because I knew they couldn't lie but what they said didn't make any sense. I had recently driven a half ton truck of every available brand and the Ford certianly wasn't the most powerful truck in class. Turns out that their statistic was that they had the highest percentage of peak toque at 800 rpm. It was in the fine print that could only be read when paused.

On second thought, I may be crazy, but I prefer to be called "normal challenged."
Rja, yes most of my SHMs are CDs but several are hybrids. I have played them both ways.
I thought that the SHM SACD were not hybrids. I have ordered a few more but everyone I looked at played on SACD only.
My OP concerns the SHM SACD only.


The SACD (of any kind) is a DVD-based media. A 650nM wave-length laser is used to read that media, and at a power that is 0.2-0.3mW. In order to burn a CD-R or DVD-R, the laser power is increased at least 10 times.

Simple math will be that, if the laser can heat the disc surface to 200C to burn the film at 2mW, the temperature while reading will be 10 times less or 20C. At this temperature there is no way for the laser to make any change on the disc surface.

Furthermore, even if the laser was capable of some sort of interaction with the disc surface and can somehow change the pits shape, this will not result in improved sound but in severe playback errors.

But let's imagine for a moment that the laser miraculously makes the pit edges smoother with many hours of repeat playback. Even with this scenario, the laser cannot re-master your SHM SACDs from dull/bass heavy sounding to amazing crystal-clear vinyl sound. :-)

Hope this helps!

Alex Peychev
There are no SHM hybrids that I've ever seen.
Hi Alex,
i trust only what I heard, and have no explaination for it.
I never said the disc went from dull to crystal clear analog sounding. I said it went from inferior to my mofi edition of it (not an amazing cd by any means)to now clearly superior.I was also able to pin point some of the changes I heard and attempt to convey them.
I still have quite a few sacd that are superior sonically to this SHM
In my research, I am not the only one to experience a sonic change with regards to the SHM sacd. Some theries put forth feel its the new materials used to produce the product.
If there exist cd enhancers (nats.markers, footings, power chords, and liquids)that alter the signature of a cd, why can't heat from repeated plays alter the sonics of the new materials being used as well?
Lots of people are flaming me for OP but no one has explained why it is impossible.

Thanks Bar81. I thought they were all single layer.Appreciate the confirmation.
The op of this thread concerned SHM SACD`s only with the Steely Dan Aja SACD in particular.


Hi Montejay,

Lots of people are flaming me for OP but no one has explained why it is impossible.

With my earlier post I did not try to "flame" you but to explain why it is impossible.

Alex Peychev
Montejay - For there to be an audible difference after break in that is a result from something happening to the disk it means the laser somehow physically altered the disk. If the laser was somehow changing the disk then there's nothing that would keep it from continuing the change, thus degrading the disk over time. Has anyone noticed that these disks continue to have a changing sound or the long haul?

The only other thing that really happens to the disk is that it is spinning. I can't think of a reason that spinning a disk would change it's physical properties.

Do you have any ideas as to how it is possible?
Mceljo,Why does it have to be specifically the laser (it may be)and not heat.Perhaps there is some coating that burns off. The SHM use material that has never been used before in other disc so this is new territory. I am sure you have tweaked your system at one time or another and couldn`t explain why the sonics changed, just that they did.
That being said,I haven`t noticed any change since the burning in process(repeat for two days straight).It has only been played about 5 times since then. The only person who heard the disc when new,will be borrowing it tomorrow. I am very interested in his opinion.He may very well say `no change`
Please note to all,
I never heard this before on any other disc.
I currently own only one SHM SACD with 3 more on order.
I have a very simple and resolving system that is a excellent tool to determine how different sources, wires, or cables affect the over all sound.
I have no explaination.
I stand by what I heard.

I'm not doubting what you heard. I'm doubting your conclusion that SACD burn-in is responsible. IMO some other phenomenon is at work here.
Montejay - Are you talking about heat from the laser or from the player? Either way, if there is a coating that is coming off then you should be able to obtain the same difference using an oven. Also, if it's a coating then I'd say the manufacturing process should be the same on all of their SACDs and you should hear a similar difference.

The downside to trying to verify this type of thing is that you can't go back to the start. Your friend will have no chance of making a solid comparison between what he heard before and what he'll hear tomorrow. Comparing the present to a memory is nearly impossible.
Mceljo,in this particular case (SHM SACD of Aja only)there are specific sonic improvements that I have outlined that my audio friend will INSTANTLY hear.I think that a P01/G01 with the Gorb clock will offer the detail needed to confirm any change.The only question I will have for him is "does he like it now?" I stated that if he felt it was the same that wouldn't bother me in the least.I now enjoy this sacd very much.We both had a simular reaction to the sound quality when new and the lack of detail in both the high and low end of the frequency spectrum.
This is something I experienced and choose to share in this forum,and not in the least bit a scientific lab controlled experment.

Folowup as promised earlier
Brought the now burnt in SHM sacd of Aja over to my audiophile friend last night along with a SHM sacd sampler we both just purchased.
For fun,I burnt in my sampler for about 24 hours and his remained unplayed.
The first thing was that he too heard the improvement in Aja to the point that he thought it very good digital (but not reference quality). He wasn't impressed with it at all the first time he heard it as previously discussed.
The second thing was that my burnt in sampler sounded better than his fresh one. The bass was tight and the resonances were clearer. The best way to discribe the differences between the two identical sacd's were if you changed your reading glass from a 1.25 to a 1.50.
The sampler comes with a second sacd that is identical but produced using normal material.It actually sounds better than both my burnt in sacd or the non burnt in one. I haven't a clue why they would do this. The SHM is cut higher so you have to use a spl meter but this was the biggest surprise of the evening.
I do not feel the shm's are worth the price and will not be buying anymore,but they are one of the few producing new sacd's these days.

Did you do any blind tests? Placebo and expectation can be strong with all of us from time to time.
Hi Mcejco,
It was apparent when listening to the two identical samplers.I did not load the player,so i wasn't aware of which SHM sampler was being used, but I knew which one I was hearing. The curious thing from a marketing point of view is why did they include a second sacd to compare the shm sacd with that sounds better!

Is it possible that your player just does a better job with standard formats than it does with the SHM SACD format?