Can cables have a shelf life?

I have a combined HT/Stereo set-up I’ve been revamping for a month or so. New monitors/new center. Same brand but the center is a different family.

I had everything dialed in and sounding pretty darn good but I’ve made a move of my amps and some XLRs I’ve had tucked away due to length issues in a box for guessing 8 years? 9 years? Longer? And I pulled them out today and inserted them in after all these years. Honestly my XLRs I had in place might have sounded better. Particularly the center. But really need to let it ride a few days but was wondering about age (They work so should be no issues right?) After all these years to they require a mini break-in?

They are Kimber Select 1126. I had been using Kimber Hero. The 1126, in theory should be a decent perceived step up. I feel it’s a perceived step back (-:

But not sure if they need to settle in again, if the age may take into account or the build of new cables have gotten closer to these. They’ve kept the model number after all these years but these have to be a couple of recipes back my now.






They need to run in again.

Also moving cables alters the sound - I have a tech friend who can demonstrate moving cables alters the signal using test equipment and software.

So put them in and leave them running for a week - then recheck the current.

It always sounded crazy that moving or not using cables will need to be run in again. But I have heard it repeatedly. I hate it, everything matters.


I had some speaker cables (Transparent) tucked away for twenty years. I pulled them out and put them on after moving to a larger room. The sounded fantastic… and got better. Of course they were gone in a couple weeks as I upgraded to contemporary Transparent… wow, the new ones are tremendously better… technology moves on.

No....except maybe exposed ends...which can of course be cleaned. Also, if cable has been twisted, bent or abused, than maybe yes...

Here's a weird one I learned in the 70's when playing with uber-expensive molded PVDF for laboratory apparatus. Fluorocarbons, although damned inert, can have a stressed state from tooling or molding. This stress will be self-healing over perhaps a long time (a year+), or released with thermal treatment.  The costly evidence was when newly assembled Pipetman developed innocuous tiny stress cracks along their body faces after many months in service. The solution was simply to thermally treat (a standard autoclave cycle by the end user) again to stabilize the fluorocarbon mechanically. 

When I decided to be disruptive and provide inexpensive Teflon-sheather power cables, boxes, and PCKits to A'goners many years ago, I thermally treated the raw Teflon-sheather cable to fully "cook" them so there would be no perceived break-in period. No user (there were a few hundred of you) ever claimed they changed with time.  Hence I believe it's not the conductor metals that require, or can change with time marching on, but only the dielectrics used in or near contact with the conductors. So your "old" cables may indeed be especially nice!

I’ve got them running. Thanks for the input. I have a loaner coming just to compare. It’s sounding better. I want to put the Kimber Hero back in then try something not Kimber. Going to insert an Audioquest Water in.

But I am certain night one was a bit messed up. The best time is right after the swap. A little brief background. I bought a Dynaudio Contour Ci center new to go with a special edition Dynaudio stereo monitor I also purchased with no matching center for a combined HT/stereo rig. I would not call the center dark as it’s not but maybe at first constricted may be a better word. I won’t go into a lot of adjectives but I was worried it may not workout. I let it run for a month. Doing some clean-up with cables. Adjustments etc and at some point the past week it was like a switch went on. Everything sounding fantastic. I mean I was really floored. I then remembered I had these cables and the amps are close now. They may reach and bet it will even go further. These were pretty awesome as I remembered from a decade ago. When I popped them in, that sound to me of constriction and voices sounding a bit dark back. Maybe worse.I couldn’t believe it and it was obvious. To be honest I expected nothing discernible. And I didn’t expect the much cheaper cable to sound better. Now for the hell of it I want to try a non Kimber.

It could well be the Water goes back and coin flip the other two.

But really thanks. This proved at least to me there may be some truth in run in. Wouldn’t think a used cable required anything. Sounding better now. Nothing like night one. Been running four days straight. It has really improved but I’d like to take my personal test further now.

Yeah it is something that people that are cable/challenged love to hear,lol...been doing some playing with footers and iso moving cd player up and down...along with that the cables/ic’s.After about 3 days they are close to sound stage sounding right.

Its a weird phenomena that i kind of believed and thought ok w.t.hell...its real imho,and i do re run in via fry baby 12/24 after 6 mths of sitting unused.

@dynguy - all cables require a "settling in" period even after simply being reconnected.- normally 20-30 hours

In your case, some break-in may be required but it should be shorter than what is required for new cables - maybe 50 hours

But that depends on the insualtion of the cables - some insulations do degrade and render the cable useless - but most modern cables use quality insulations so this is not normally a factor

  • e.g. I had some old speaker cables with the clear insulation, which after 10 years, they were so bad I had ot toss them
  • by comparison, Teflon is very good

Hope that helps - Steve


I have older HiDiamond cables that sound very good. According to electricians, copper cable has a life span of around sixty to eighty five years. However, I live in a house built in the later 1800’s with tube and knob wiring and everything sounds great! I don‘t know about silver or platinum coated copper. But as far as the sheathing, it should still help with resistance and RFI unless they were damaged. Anyhow, let those cables burn for a few weeks and see how they sound after that.