Wyred 4 Sound STI-500 Breakin Time

I was one of the original W4S Dac1 purchasers and just upgraded to the DAC2 and purchased a STI-500 amp. Have about 60 hours on the amp and 100+ on the DAC2.

I did find that DAC1 sounded better and better after about 200 hours of breakin time. Do the W4S STI amps work the same way?

Want to hear from STI-500 or STI-1000 owners with tips on breaking in these amps and how the quality improves with time. Has anyone used breakin CDs with these amps? Can you break them in at low volumn or do you need to play loudly?

So far, the STI-500 plays loud effortlessly but I am not hearing the detail I was with my previous Bada Amp and PreAmp. It is the amazing detail that I got from the W4S DAC that impressed me so much along with a very natural tone and realistic reproduction of acoustic instruments.
Do you run it balanced (DAC->amp)? Cause if not than you've only got 'half' of what you can get balanced.

I swap sometimes my Sunfire Sig600 to ST-1000 from my friend that has the same Aerial 10t as I do. In both cases I'm happy, but love my my Sig600 for larger and wormer sound. Try to use your integrated as an amp only if you still have your old preamp.

As to break-in time I doubt that after X00 hours it will show significant changes only slight ones.
I agree with the balanced comment, you're missing out if you're only running single ended.
I own the STI-500 and the DAC2 and it did take quite a long time for the STI-500 to sound its best. But if you're missing detail, that could be something different. Presenting fine detail is one of the many strengths of the STI-500 so maybe it doesn't like the same cables (especially power cord) that the Bada gear liked.

The speaker cables and the power cord seem to work as a team, so consider that. And the interconnects play a part as well. Are you using a good quality AC line conditioner? If not, you should be.

Also, I'd change from the variable output to the fixed output on the DAC2 if you haven't already done so.

You might also move the roll-off setting of the digital filter one notch up (to 50k, I believe) as that will extend the highs and apparent detail a bit.

It's hard for me to imagine that the Bada gear could give as much detail as the STI-500, let alone more. But combinations of different gear and cables are virtually unlimited, so anything is possible, I suppose.
Some great comments, thanks. Here is some additional detail:

I now have about 100Hrs on the STI-500 and just beginning to get the detail that I got with the BADA amp and preamp. I was really sweating it after paying the price for the STI500 but the reviews have been soo good and the DAC1 was terrific.

Interconnects are balanced from the DAC2 to the STI500 using Morrow cables - I believe they are the M1.1 balanced. They were spectacular from the DAC1 to the BADA preamp. Made a huge difference over the other cables I was using.

I have Magnepan 1.7s which provide amazing detail and let me know about every change in the system.

I have my fingers crossed but I am beginning to hear the music open up. It never sounded bad, just not detailed. In fact, I find the STI500 warmer than the BADA which had a hybrid tube/transistor preamp. Who would have guessed?

I will be checking the settings on the DAC2 but believe I have them correct.

How long did your STI take to break in?
I am not sure but as I was also breaking in my speakers Dynaudio S1.4 at the same time. The whole system (STI-500, and Dyn S1.4) took about 200 hours before they sounded their best.

However, I also find that the STI-500 takes about half an hour to "warm" from standby to play well. It can sound cold, and hard, soundstage flat for the first half hour.

Source is an Audiolab 8200CDQ similar to the W4S DAC2.

Good point. STI-500 only uses 10...15W stand-by. It could be turned on 24/7.
I do leave the W4S STI500 on all the time. Just turn down the volume. Leaving the volume turned up on the STI500 has met with very little enthusiasm in my home!

Actually seen on some threads to let the system "rest" for a few hours. Every 4th or 5th night I power it all down only to turn it on the next morning and leave it on for several days.

I run music from a music server (NETGEAR 9150) into the DAC2 continuously. Everything is now opening up, much more three dimensional. I would almost say it is nearing the peak of what I was getting with the BADA amp and preamp. Except that the STI500 at louder volumes is very relaxed and the BADA was sounding stressed.

The BADA ran in Class A for the first 10 watts which was very clean and clear. With the W4S DAC and Magnepan 1.7s, I have changed my listening habits to a very low to moderate level. The clarity of the system is so good that in the past, I had to turn it up to get the same level of detail and visceral enjoyment of the music.

I would say the sweet spot in overall improvements has been happening in the approximately 60-100 hours of break in. I hope to hear some additional improvements over the next 100 hours but don't anticipate anything as radical as the first 100 hours.

You guys realize that other than in a few audio magazines and online at sites like this, no one else believes that electronics have to "Break in." Try having a conversation at work about this.
I also have the DAC2 directly driving the ST-500 via balanced. I think you may need more than 100 hrs for the DAC2 to burn in. Also after some time you can tweak the STI by changing the two fuses on the modules. There is one on each. I changed mine with the PS-audio fuses and got smoother yet very detailed upper end. From my experience also a good power cable later will benefit both the amp and DAC2, specially the DAC. I changed mine nearly after many months but I got a big step up in soundstage expansion.

Good luck.
Fancy power cords, changing fuses...I must be back to Digital.... : ) Just wondering how big the difference between /96 and /192, considering it looks like most back catalogs at EMI/Decca/Chandos/Hyperion--I listen to Classical--have archived at 24/96, should they ever have the "courage" to release their material for downloads at higher resolution?

I've only heard 24/96 via SACD in which original recording was PCM. Better in most cases than "regular" CD.
Will have to try the fuses. Had forgotten the positive comments I read about them some time ago. Thanks for reminding me. I do already use some nice Xindak power cords for both units.

One thing that I found helps is putting the DAC2 and my NETGEAR 9150 on Vibrapods - very inexpensive tweak. The STI500 has three Xindak points (actually looks like a small hockey puck with a half circle drilled out with a metal ball that fits in the drilled out section).

I had purchased the DAC1 (which has now been replaced by the DAC2) very close in timing to my purchase of the Magnepan 1.7s. It took at least 400 hours for the system to break in. I attributed it to the Magnepans' breaking in but never knew which piece of equipment was taking the longest.
Try Furutech fuses instead. I've heard they're better than PS Audio high end versions (which i had in my former STI-1000.)
I would ask for the smoother sounding versions of Furutech.
You'll need 2 fuses, 1 for each monoblock. Try a new PC. Same here, look for a one with good resolving power and smooth.
I believe the Fusion Romance IC's and PC's would be a splendid approach. Email Eric, a very nice person;-)
This is what i should start off with.
Furutech fuses and Fusion Romance PC and IC (xlr ofcourse).
You can also try new feets underneath chassis of amp, not under original feets.
The SSC AS pucks is not very expensive, and give a smoother sound with a bit of weight in the mid. Try avoiding glass shelved equiptment supports.
Inpieces - looked up the Fusion Romance IC's but they are a bit too rich for me. I started another thread on cables that can be purchased around $500 and got some great ideas.

I think your idea about the fuses is a good one. I need to find the values of the fuses in the ST500 and then figure out how to get the cover off.

In addition, I will at some point bypass the Magnepan 1.7 fuses and go direct to the tweeter panel. May give it another few months (they are still so new!).
Ronmills, i believe it was Torx. Don't remember sizing though. Just lose them and lift cover off. Then clip open the cable inside (open connector). No worries it is easy!
Hifi-tuning fuses might be even better. Just mail them and ask of the sonics. Remember the anti-static bracelet (cheap also.)
Hi dudes, I changed the fuses some time in February to Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme fuses. The size for the screws are Torx T-10

Reply from W4S folks then on the fuses used in the STI-500 when I asked them:
"The fuse that is utilized in the STI-500 is a 3.15A 5x20mm slo-blo."

In fact, I think the original fuses on the ice modules are pretty good ones. Housing looked like ceramic, and the contacts were good quality too.
Inpieces and Dxter - Very helpful! Thank you for the information. I have been very impressed with the quality of materials used in the W4S STI500 and DAC2. Quality connectors and very substantial feel of the units. Makes sense that they would use a good quality fuse on the inside.

The 5x20 fuses are what Hi Fi Tuning calls "Small" ?? I would assume a 3A would suffice rather than trying to find a 3.14A.