Break in

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One of the more confusing subjects in our "sport" of high end audio is break in; the tendency for equipment to sound better after some amount of running time. That time varies from a couple of hours to a couple of months.

Talk about a subject rife with controversy! Some say it is the user breaking in while others swear it is the equipment. I can tell you from personal experience it's probably a bit of both, but leaning heavily on the equipment side. I am also not afraid to tell you I don't quite understand it all.

My reference DirectStream DAC is one of the best sounding of the units I have heard; yet it is technically identical to the others. The difference? It's been playing and on for over 6 months. But it sounded great cold out of the box. Well, there was no box for this one. But you get what I mean. Others I bring in for audition sound great as well and have all the characteristics of what we have come to expect from this product; yet mine still sounds a bit better.

Others on the forums have experienced immediate expected performance from DS while others struggle with the sound until they run it in for a while.

Certainly there are verifiable differences in component usage such as capacitors and passive of almost all kinds, but they can't account for some of the major differences we hear over time. And then there's the user break in issue.

Every new piece of kit presents music differently than the last. To some this difference is immediate and obviously better. To others the opposite. So I think it takes some of us a bit of time to adjust to those differences and recalibrate our musical references to that of live music.

The subject is a hotbed of debate and one we'll explore a little more as the mood strikes.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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