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 really don’t understand why these arguments continue. Why do the two camps care about the “experience”, “perceptions” or “biases/expectations” of those in the other camp. If you don’t accept cable break in as real, why even open this thread, let alone contribute. If you do accept break in as real, why engage with comments from those who don’t. As somebody said previously, the debate has raged without resolution for decades, though it seems less visceral and nasty nowadays.

RE: this thread and at risk of being “perceived” or “experienced” as nasty, I think it churlish to continue to hijack threads about cables/cable break in with one’s well worn and predictable rejections of the validity of a poster’s observations, or must I say perceptions. We know already that you reject the very possibility of the phenomenon, so you add no value to the discussion when you repeat your incredulity in yet another thread. I wish we could have a discussion of the topic without petty comments insisting, for example, that a post should have used “perceived” rather than “experienced”. Aside from the fact that, in this context, it is a distinction without a difference, it is redundant and tedious.

RE: the suggestion that a blind test with five “believers” and five “nonbelievers” would settle the controversy: I’ve been there. Although the experiment changed one or two participants’ views on cable burn in, most went away surer than ever they were right all along, regardless of whether they arrived as “believers” or “nonbelievers”. Lines have been drawn and few have the will to cross over.

This is a big, complex hobby in which there is room for all of us. I await arrival of the day when we can live and let live without derision and ridicule.

Enjoy your music as you will. I’ll do the same.


 I await arrival of the day when we can live and let live without derision and ridicule.

                                                    You missed it!

             Critical thinkers are now to be considered, "enemies of the state."

Not sure I have written about this here but I have plenty of experience in test gear use as spent 20 years in the US Navy as first a Data Systems Tech then it was merged with Fire Control Tech and re-titled that. The most complex gear I worked on, one out of two left still in use, no training on it, cannot say to much but it had a large number of critical circuits that the block diagram was 20 pages long. The most important aspect took 4 scope probes to look at and if dialed in according to specs which was very difficult and hugely time consuming to do, the whole system did not work well and it was absolutely critical to the operation of the whole battle group. What did work, tuning it by ear, then it was so good we broke ever record of reliability by a far margin. 

 Testing is good, great in fact, it just does nor cannot measure everything we can hear (or otherwise sense) but maybe someday gear will be invented than can do so.

 Those that refuse to believe we may not yet know everything we think we do might one day be surprised to learn there really are tooth fairies, not saying I believe there are but if so I bet they would not call themselves that:)


I don't understand it and therefore the phenomenon of "break-in" doesn't make sense to me, except perhaps with speakers.  But nonetheless, I have perceived a difference between when I first hooked cables up and ran them for 50 or 100 hours.  So who knows.  As with all of these debates, it does seem reasonable to say that if it sounds different, it should measure different, either on a scope or REW or something else.  But I am surprised that no one has formally organized a true double blind test as suggested above, with some from each side of the cable debate and a couple of neutrals. I would be very interested to see the results of that  experiment!