Skeptic or just plain hard headed


So I purchased a pair of Morrow Audio phono cables. These are the PH3 with the Eichmann connectors. Wanted to start there to see if MA cables will be a viable option for my system.I think my story is not so unique to others who have purchased MA cables. So no need to go into the hu hum of burn-in in regards to MA cables, and how things sound bad at first, then gets better,  then excellent...yada yada yada. I know the story about this product.  I simply am one who is not a believer in electronics break in periods, or battery packs on cables, etc... Regardless of what side of the fence you are on in regards to that Im NOT trying to start that debate again please.. Anyway. After reading several reviews of the MA cables and understanding that most agreed that the cables needed a substantial burn-in time, and that the cables would not sound its best until this happens I decided to give them a try. Thinking ok lets get a jump on the burn-in period (if the concept is true). I paid for the 2 day burn-in service from MA. What I didn't expect is that when I got the cable it would sound as bad as it did in comparison to my existing name brand cable (not getting into that either, not relevant). I thought well the cable might not quite be up to snuff with all this talk about burn-in (if its true) but not that much of a difference.  I mean as soon as I dropped the needle on the record I immediately heard a profound difference in sound stage and clarity degridation. Needless to say this cable was destined to be returned to MA for a full refund and my thinking was "they are crazy if I am going to trade my cable for this cable" So I decided to give MA a call to setup the return. Talked with Mike Morrow (very nice guy by the way) and we had our differences in what I should expect out of his product. Now my Mother always told me that I have a hard head.. I heard that growing up all my life, and when you couple that with skepticism it makes a pretty, well lets just say not a very fun person to have a debate with lol. However Mike insisted that if I return the cable that I would be missing out on the fruit they would bare after 400 hours of break in. 400 hours??? really!. Oh at that point I was really ready to return them. I told all my friends "Mike must be nuts" (no offense Mike) no way am I going to wait a year to hear what this cable is capable of, AND I do not have any way to expedite the process...at least I thought I didn't until I found an old sound bar I don't use anymore with analog inputs. Ok I know you pro MA and  pro cable burn-in folks are chomping at the bit. Im almost done. Take your hands off the keyboard for just a few more lines. 

So here is the deal to be fair I am going to be open minded about this because Mike really made me feel like I would be missing out if I return the cable without a proper burn-in (great salesman), and since he had such conviction I now think I have to test this thing out right??. Now I know that there are testimonials out there about how the MA cable improved over 100s of hours in their system, and that they are now "blown away". However can you really hear a profound difference in a cable you play in your system over 170 hours or so?  I would think a gradual difference would be harder to detect. I mean my system seems to sound better to me everyday without making any changes. Is it because of  continued cable and electronics burn in?? maybe. Or maybe its just my brain becoming more intimate with the sound of my system. Well this test I'm doing should reveal a night and day difference from what the system sounds like today with the cable pre burn-in if there is any merit to the notion. In regards to does it sound better than my existing cable that is yet to be determined. I think my goal now is to prove or dis-prove if cable burn-in is a real thing. This whole idea has evolved from if it's an improvement or not over what I use today. We can discuss that later.

I now have the cable connected between a cd player , and a sound bar with a CD playing on repeat. The disc of choice for this burn-in is rather dynamic so it should be a good test. At the end of 16 days (384 hours) I will move the cables to my reference system and do about another 20 hours of additional burn-in to compensate for moving the cable. This will put a total of 452 hours of burn-in on the PH3. When I put this cable back in my system I sure hope it sings because this is a lot to go through to add a cable to your system. Mike if you are right I will eat crow and will preach from the highest mountain top that you are right, and that cable burn-in is REAL.  For me anyway the myth will be considered busted or reinforce my belief that cable burn-in is a bunch of BS. 

For those who will argue the point of cable burn-in I fully understand the concept, and I don't plan to get sucked down that rat hole and I won't argue that....yet because at the end of this test I may be in your camp and I don't want to have a steady diet of crow so for now I will remain neutral on the subject until the test is complete.  However I will be totally transparent and honest about the results. So not trying to make anyone angry as I know beliefs about audio are sensitive subjects, and rightfully so this hobby is expensive and I like you have a substancial investment in this. Just trying to get to the truth. I also understand that cable burn-in may actually happen when you consider it from a scientific perspective, but the real question is can you actually hear the difference.  

I will report back to this thread in 17 days from today (need at least one day to evaluate) with the results. 

happy listening!!

-Keith
barnettk
@geoffkait 

i am not trying to make that much of a profound statement. Not yet anyway. Maybe IF and it’s a big if there is a difference that peaks my interest to venture down that path sure. For now let’s just see if there is any difference at all, then we can discuss criteria around how to measure it. I mean after all let’s be honest what sounds good is going to be subjective unless like you said we can agree on certain attributes that can be measured such as amplitude, etc. However whether it “sounds better” will be up to me. No one can qualify that but me in this case on my system. Unless you want to come to GA when I do the test lol. This is why the topic is so controversial. What sounds good to one may not sound go to another. I think I am only going to take this to if there is any difference from burn in on a cable. We will be arguing the subjective stuff forever. 

Im warming up the system now to do the first listening test to see if I can make any conclusions after the first 200 hours. 

To clarify for bob, barnettk, and other interested parties, initially I was warning against use with amplifiers as it was a complete unknown in the field. Now, I have built several systems from integrated DAC to amp, or preamp to amp using the Schroeder Method. Similar superb results as when going from source to preamp.

The caveats and warnings still apply; I suggest conversation with equipment manufacturers to check for compatibility.

Wow!  That's good to know, Doug.  Might have to do the same to the ICs going from my preamp to the Nuforce Ref 9 V3 SE monos.  Doug, does this work with identical length and models from other makers besides Teo?

Bob
200 hour test has begun. The recordings I’m listening to are:

Charles Lloyd and the Marvels featuring Lucinda Williams-vocal on the Blue Note label
Donald Fagen - The Nightfly 45 RPM MoFi edition. Recorded from the original master. 
Cassandra Wilson - Blue Moon Daughter 180 gram audiophile version

i am very familiar with all 3 of these records. 

This is a premature test since the cables are only at 200 hours but I would like to see how they strike me since first hearing my system with them new which was un-remarkable.

 My system has been warmed up and I have played about 3 records which is approximately the same amount of time when I first installed the cables last Sat. Trying to make things as close to when I first installed them as possible. Other than the cold medicine I was taking. Sorry not reproducing that 😁

Obviously it will take me some time to do this so I will report back when I’m done
Pardon me while I try to screw everyone up here with possibly a new idea about break in. If you don't want to be reading the next 400 yrs, skip this post. If you do, pack at least 2 snickers bars, you'll need them.

It's an idea first told to me by a friend of mine more than a year ago now I think and at first I didn't give it all that much credence, but lately it has been rattling around in my head and it has me wondering.

This friend has audiophile experience, is an ee, is a building biologist and has a good deal of experience with power grids, grounding schemes in residential and commercial buildings, here and in other countries as well.

Let me start by saying that for this discussion, we could think of the entire home's electrical system as one big circuit and that it could be compared to a Christmas tree in your living room (if you're not Christian, then sorry, I could not come up with a better analogy). The tree is the home's circuit, the branches are all the breaker circuits and the ornaments are everything that is plugged into the circuit: appliances, lights, clock radio, HVAC, TV, computer, each of your audio components.

Normally a home's electrical system is designed (engineered) to be used in a nominal manner and, even for demanding AV purposes (demanding in terms of sound quality, not in really terms of power demand per se, which might be a separate issue if very high power draw is a concern). But, that nominal use pattern can be counted on to deliver the kind of power that will allow even the best of systems to scale the heights in audio performance terms indeed. Assuming, for the moment, that we're listening at a time of year in which our utility co. is stable and not being stressed by excess demand, environmental conditions or whatnot.

We already know that whenever a large appliance starts up, there is an instantaneous voltage drop at the panel as the home's circuit reacts to the instantaneous increase in power demand. We know this is not exactly good for an AV system. But, soon as the voltage fluctuation passes, then it's ok again, right?? Well, technically, no. Whenever there is a sudden change in voltage in a circuit, there is a period of recovery that follows...until the electrical eventually regains its electrical homeostasis. The weird thing here is that, depending on how strong the voltage differential is, this period can take up to 3 or 4 **weeks** to fully regain homeostasis. Homeostasis here is a period of continual, steady-state, **uninterrupted** consumption (no switching on/off, no cycling, no dynamic consumption) of power that within each circuit branch of the home amounts to roughly 80-85% of each breaker's power rating. At 100%, the breaker trips, so we must scale it back a bit as a safety margin...all of which is part of ee design for nominal operation. Substantially less than that, like well under 25%, and the light load demand can invite voltage instability on that circuit over time if the circuit never sees any increase over time. Let me say that our normal routines of switching on more appliances during the day and turning some off at night is all anticipated in the overall design and completely falls under nominal use. And let me add one more thing here: when the routine on/off of a large voltage occurs (HAVAC, fridge, washer/dryer), and as the recovery period is set into motion...the disturbance travels out like waves throughout the home's electrical, from the appliance, to the breaker box and, from there, redistributed back out to all the other appliances where it is reflected back to the box and back out again, ad nauseam, losing energy with each pass, until they finally settle out and our theoretical house is back to homeostasis a couple weeks or so later. Electricity moves quickly, but the effects of the waves riding on it within the confines of a home's electrical travel much more slowly. IOW, a real-world's home is, at any given time, the sum total of all the individual on/off cyclings of power consumption for the past few weeks. All of which, under normal circumstances, represents nominal usage and would scarcely ever register, even if we knew exactly what to listen for, on even the most revealing system, normally. No worries there, usually. But all this is one slice of the environment in which our systems operate.

But, there is such a thing as using the homes electrical in a non-nominal manner...or temporarily stressing it out. Let's suppose for a moment that a home owner is an EHS type...i.e. he suffers from sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation (it can make you fatigued). So to fight this, he switches off the main breaker at night for better sleep. This is a Total voltage demand upon start up, when he wakes up in the morning. This might be considered a "shock to the system" for the home's electrical. This would definitely require the maximum recovery period. All his appliances, for the most part, will probably be ok, basically. But, if he had a hifi, it might well be a different story for a while. And he's doing this every day! This in no way could be considered nominal use. A one-time event is one thing (like when you'll be out of town for well more than a week), you can expect a single, month-long recovery period when you return and then you're good to go. But, every day?! For audio, Yikes.

Another point. Hifi gear is unique among most any other item plugged into the wall in terms of our perceived sensitivity, or our glimpse into, less than ideal electrical issues. Even TV or computer seem a bit less affected by this sort of thing, not immune altogether, but there doesn't seem to be anything more transparent, in our daily lives, to this phenomenon than high quality audio.

Yet one more line of thought: every item plugged into the wall vibrates at its own frequency. For audio, it's important to a degree as to what that frequency will be. It has a direct impact on the sound. Ever wonder how companies come up with a house sound? This is how they do it, especially in the bass. They tune the power supply to vibrate at the preferred (lower) frequency. That's why, in the bass anyway, Theta sounds different than Rotel, which sounds different than AR. Sometimes they go out on a limb in order to shake things up and go for a unique bass signature. For Krell fans, their bass sound is sledgehammer, hard-hitting and is something you can't quite get anywhere else. For the detractors, it brings out those hard-driving, backbeat rythms on All your favorites...even "mary had a little lamb". 

But, in fact I'm presenting 2 different issues here: 1) electrical homeostasis and 2) resonant frequency. 

But, I'm wondering if when we try out a new component, if we aren't running into both of these issues, at least partially. A new amp? Not only a new power demand, but a new resonant frequency for the electrical to get used to. I'm thinking now that resonant frequencies may behave similar to power demand in that they may have their own homeostasis cycle in a circuit as well, but I can't confirm this. I believe there is mechanical involvement (physical break in) what with dynamic drivers and all, but I mean I used to think of insulation on a wire as something of a mechanical element in the electrical break-in process of, say, a new cable. But, are we actually hearing more of the effects of the home electrical than of the actual product under evaluation and are we then perceiving that as the "break in" of the particular product? That's what my friend was telling me was happening. 

But, it would mean that proper A/B testing can never be reliably done (double blind or otherwise) (I never fool with any of that anyway, I'm of the opinion that the only test that counts is living with a product longterm, actually), but even when a friend casually brings over a new wire or component to just test out in another system for a day, even if that component was fully broken in, in his own system, there might be a new break in period in the different home...however long or short a time compared to the initial break in right out of the box that might be.

@barnettk, I know this just complicates things by making a largely subjective topic even more subjective and I apologize. But I'm thinking the overall concept may be somewhat relevant. 

Sorry to everyone for the stoopid long post.
Regards and carry on,
John