Cable Break In for the Naysayers

I still cannot believe that in this stage of Audio history there are still many who claim cable break in is imagined. They even go so far as claim it is our ears that break in to the new sound. Providing many studies in the way of scientific testing. Sigh...

I noticed such a recent discussion on the What’s Best Forum. So here is my response.

______________________________________________________________________________________________ I just experienced cable break in again firsthand. 10 Days ago, I bought a new set of the AudioQuest Thunderbird XLR 2M interconnects.

First impression, they sounded good, but then after about 30 hours of usage the music started sounding very closed in and with limited high frequencies. This continued until about 130 hours of music play time.

Then at this time, the cables started to open up and began to sound better and better each passing hour. I knew at the beginning they would come around because they sounded ok at first until the break in process started. But now they have way surpassed that original sound.

Now the soundstage has become huge with fantastic frequency extensions. Very pleased with the results. Scientifically I guess we can’t prove cable break in is real, but with good equipment, good ears, it is clearly a real event.




I had an opportunity to replace both my speaker cables (used) and the interconnect cable (new) with the AQ Thunderbird. Now along with my AQ Dragon power cords and the AQ 7000 conditioner I now have a complete loom of all AQ cabling.

I am not using a preamp; I am going straight from my Lumin X1 to my mono block amps.


I think that audio science guy really likes the Topping Equipment. He claims it really tests well with his lab equipment.

Has anyone actually used this equipment? I have, and it sounds terrible, so sterile! No life in the music.

Tests great, sounds bad. 


Yeah, the measurement thing can be a real dichotomy in that it would be nice for both measurements and listening experiences to match, either both good or both bad, but alas, that too often doesn't seem to be the case with this audio stuff.

I have not owned Topping gear but I have owned Benchmark's linestage and their top DAC (still own) and I agree, no matter how well Stereophile says they measure, to me they sound neutral to the point of being sterile.  The don't do anything "wrong" but they also don't engage me.  However, I had similar thoughts about Mola Mola's Tambaqui, which I would describe as sounding "perfect" but not as engaging as two other DACs I have here (not the Benchmark).

I have heard the difference between new and broken-in cabling nearly all my audiophile life.  Even when I had my first real audiophile system I was able to tell the difference between the new and broken-in cabling.  I recently purchased Iconoclast speaker cables and while they sounded good right out of the box, after about 100-hours of music played, they really smoothed out.  It's challenging to describe the differences in sound, however it improved notably from first listens.  I believe that is true for components as well.  I remember changing the output capacitors in my preamp from Jenzens to Duelund CAST and boy I didn't care for the initial sound !  Hard and cold is how I'd describe it but after a good deal of playing, the transformation was amazing.  I'm glad the designer said to just wait.  The sound will change.  He was right.  I don't think it was the metallurgy but break-in of the dielectric that I believe made the difference.  So, I'm a definite believer of the effect of break-in on the sound.  

I heard it with my own ears is the least believable response that one could give.
The human brain is very dynamic and is the most reasonable explanation to why it’s not cable burn in, but brain adaptation.

Electron flow doesn’t change in cables after time and no one has ever given a truly scientific explanation on what could possibly happen to create an audible difference
in the molecular structure that could be attributed to people’s claims.

I’ve done analysis of ultra-high speed cables used in super computer interconnects and never did we have to worry about metallic cables changing properties after use. Electro-migration in semi-conductors is a real phenomenon, but we’re dealing with tiny areas of metallization where a difference of a small percentage of material can have a real world effect.