Question on Cardas Frequency Sweep & burn in LP

Does anyone use this LP for breakin in cartridges ?
How long do you guys run in it the lock up mode ?
What is the difference between these tracks ?

Track 2. 20 locked grooves, lateral modulation (mono)

1/2” wide, unmodulated plateau

Track 3. 32 locked grooves, vertical modulation (out-of phase)

1/2” wide, unmodulated plateau

Track 4. 20 locked grooves, lateral modulation (mono)

Which track of the 3 is best for breakin in a cart ? or the tonearm wires ?

Thanks for the help,
I understand fluxbuster no longer made.
I'm more concern on the Cardas as this is readily available.
Thanks in advance.
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Hello Nolitan,

About 2-1/2 to 3 years ago, I posed some similar questions to Doug Deacon about this record. Not so much about how long I could, or should use it, but was it a worthy tool to even use at all?

I had the older Cardas LP, and had just bought the newer issue, and had a brand new Benz Ruby 3, that was sounding like fingernails on a chaulkboard when first mounting, setting up, and listening to it.

As many of you know, Doug is the sort of fella who is usually not on the fence about anything pertaining to analog, that he's knowledgeable, and a voice of common sense wisdom.

Doug said, "Hey, you could try it, and see if you get an improvement"?, but as he wisely said, "why would you want to rack up hours, and hours playing nothing, when you could be playing-enjoying music!?"

He added, that that is part of the fun of getting a new cartridge, to hear the changes that occur during break in.
He added, that things such as this are also a learning experience.

I did try the three tracks on the Ruby 3, which was about 3 hours old, at exactly 20 minutes per track, and after that combined one hour of play time on these tracks, noted absolutely no difference in sound in my particular instance with this Ruby 3 Cartridge.

So, at that point, I had to agree with what Doug wisely told me, back in the Sleeve the Cardas Test Record went, and decided to play nothing but my clean records.

Yes, it was a worrysome affair for the first few hours, as I thought this Ruby 3 was never going to sound good, and was leaning towards believing I had gotten a defective Cartridge.

Then, at about the 5-7 hour mark, the Cartridge magically began to open up, and fill out. The pleasing changes were not at all subtle, with the Ruby 3 really beginning to show lucious midrange purity-coherence, then bass was becoming much more authoritive, Cymbals, started sounding like Cymbals, etc.

I just wanted to convey this little experience I had. I concluded that Doug had the right idea. Looking back, I do believe he was 100% right with his advice.
The Cardas LP is said to be made of a harder vinyl formulation if that's of any help. Mark
The cardas instructions suggest about an hour for cart breakin, in reference to tracks 2,3, and 4 of side 2. They also include this quote, "Save your cartridge for music!".

I find the sweep to be a useful maintenance tool, but I would never try to speed up burning in tonearm wires with this LP.

Here, you can read for yourself.

Cardas instructions
Mark beat me to it about the hard vinyl on the Cardas LP. BTW, 5 -7 hours seems a very short time for a new cartridge to even begin opening up! About 25 hours has been the minimum in my experience.

As for using a sweep frequency band, such as on the Cardas LP, to break in a cartridge: no, that's a waste of time I agree. All a cartridge needs for break-in is repeated flexing of the suspension to "limber it up"; and any records with a good range of frequencies in the music signal (especially bass) will do.

A little known, but very important (IMO) break-in tip/refinement, especially for low-compliance MC cartridges with stiff(er) suspensions: I always break them in (for the first 50 - 80 hours) with the VTF set at about .2 to .25 gms over the manufacturer's max recommended VTF. Why? Because it's very likely that in normal use (especially with MC's) you will be tracking at or near the high end of the recommended VTF range. So you want to insure that the suspension's AFTER break-in elasticity ("Q" or "K") will extend uniformly/smoothly a little PAST the optimum VTF point you've determined for best sonics, tracking, etc. You DO NOT want the suspension (after break-in) to have two different "Q"s right across the "cusp" of your optimum VTF! Don't worry, adding a little bit of "English" like this during the initial break-in will damage neither cartridge or records. In fact, if you didn't use this little "pre-stress" technique with your MC cartridge when it was new, you can do it any time afterward, and you will get much more stable performance in the future.

The frequency sweep track on many test records while not necessary for cartridge break-in, can be quite useful for cartridge maintenance IMO. While I don't think demagnetizing is an appropriate application for any of the three main cartridges designs (what's to get magnetized??), the process could cause damage, especially to the tiny magnets of MM and MI cartridges. Some demagnetizers (and even some phono-preamps) have also been known to fry the coils of more delicate MC cartridges, such as Jan Allaert's.

On the other hand, running a full-frequency-range sweep signal (especially the very high frequencies) a couple of times through a MC cartridge every one or two dozen plays can help keep the metal coils' crystalline structure uniformly oriented and packed together at the molecular level (similar, though not as completely as cryo treatment.) This will allow more(?) output from the coils, although you may not notice it ;--) And it may or may not 'freshen-up' the coil armature too, depending what it's made of.
Hi Mark,

Should I thank you or shoot you? I'm on the fence... ;-)

From the quotes above it appears that technically I did not offer advice. I asked two questions and challenged you to decide for yourself. Whether you displayed your normal good sense or ran that Ruby 3 over those tracks for 1,000 hours, I couldn't be blamed!

I remember when you reported that it had settled in nicely. That initial description didn't sound like any Benz I'd ever heard.


So Nolitan,

Why would you want to play noise when you could be playing music?

- if your answer is, "I guess I wouldn't", then the differences between the tracks becomes moot. "Enjoy music, tolerate equipment" (Nick Doshi}.

- if your answer is, "To hell with that; my cartridge sounds like crap, I bought this record and I'm going to use it", then despite Mark's misguided confidence I also have no idea which track's best for shortening the life span - oops! - I mean breaking in the suspension of a cartridge.


FWIW, I did once use both the horizontally and vertically modulated tracks to break in a friend's cartridge. It was very shrieky and we didn't much like its sound even after break in. I figured the faster I broke it down - I mean IN - the sooner he'd replace it. ;-)
Although the Fluxbuster is not made any longer, there are a number of Fluxbuster clones that are....Benz makes one, et al.

Good to see you posting again. Nice summary of the issues surrounding cartridge break-in and demagnetizing.

We also hear sonic benefits from regular runs over frequency sweep tracks, as do many. Crystalline alignment (as with cryoing) is very audible, though I defer to you and Paul with regard to your fascinating explanation that it can be effected by a frequency sweep. I sort of get it but you and he could actually discuss it. He did his PhD in dynamic re-crystallization of certain metals (or something, I can't even read the thesis title).

Hmmmm, it seems to this idiot that demagnetizing an object by moving it slowly through a revolving magnetic field of slowly diminishing strength is doing something related, though opposite: randomizing the polar orientation of certain molecules. Right? (Be kind please, be kind.)

As for that smiley face with the long nose, were you evoking Pinocchio? We all know why his nose grew...

I;m sorry Doug if I didn;t quote word for word what you maybe said to me almost 3 years ago, but I think I came pretty close.

Your advice, and some common sense dictated to me, that I hadn't used such on an audio-vinyl system for the past 35 years, so why then start now? There's that old adage, that if it isn't broke, don't fix it!

And my apology to Neil, he too has been here, and also helped me personally, and others with similarly good common sense, and technical knowledge-advice pertaining to many things vinyl. Mark
hey guys, thank you so much for the comments here. Appreciate it & i understand where you guys are coming from.
I'll take your advice, and will shelf the Cardas test LP.
I'll enjoy playing regular music!!

thank you!!! have a great day everyone.
I like the Cardas record. As far as break in, I won't even consider listening to a cartridge without running each of the sweep tracks for about 20 minutes each, an hour in total.

With 3 different cartridges, there have been 2 different results. With a Denon 103R and AT 120E, the Cardas worked very well to speed up the break in process. With a retipped 103R it did not seem to work as well, but still resulted in a fairly speedy post Cardas break in.

When I read of a cartridge breaking/burning in after 5-7 hours after some time spent with the Cardas the question begs to be asked: how long would that cartridge taken to open up without that time spent on the sweeps. I don't know of many cartridges that open up at the 5 to 7 hour mark.

My experience with the Denon is at least 15 hours for partial break-in without the Cardas. The AT 120E has a reputation for 75 to 100 hours. Out of the box it was unlistenable. With an hour on the Cardas they were both different, and much better cartridges.

I like the Cardas record and use it regularly as a maintenance tool with the sweeps and wouldn't be without it with respect to burn in.
Has anyone done comparisons of the Cardas Frequency Sweep and Burn In LPs (versions 1 or 2) vs the ClearAudio Cartridge Break-In Record? If so what were your thoughts or results.
I use the Cardas cuts 2a, b, and c of the first version LP to "wake up" cartridges I have not used in a long time or to break in a new cartridge. The results seem to be beneficial, emphasis on "seem". But how could anyone have anything but a subjective opinion about the relative merits of each of the three break-in LPs you mention? One cannot do any sort of controlled comparison, because any given cartridge, once it's been run any single one of the 3 discs, has been changed from its new or unused state. It's kind of like wondering whether you should have married this girl or that girl (or guy) post facto.
Stressed? Me?
While my audiophilia does cause occasional stress, it is never around whether I am using the "best" test LP. I think Mr. Cardas realized that the best way to enhance the profits from his first test LP was to make another.
Last year I had to have my VDH GLA III Grasshopper rebuilt by AJ. Because I have a better sounding turntable than the one the Grasshopper is on, I don't play it much.  It has around 45 hours on it total.  Top and midrange sound fine, but the bass is not what I remembered.

Recently I read that it may not sound best until it reaches 300 hours.  At that rate, I may never get the bass the cartridge is capable of.  So I will probably get the Cardas Frequency Sweep Record, and run tracks 2,3, & 4 locked grooves for 20 minutes each.