Breaking bad

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We break in horses, shoes, jeans, speakers, gloves, phono cartridges, hats, skis, and cars without batting an eye. Suggest the same for electronics and the scoffs are unmistakable.

We understand the mechanical, yet struggle with the notion of invisible electrons finding better routes from which to operate.

Not all electronic break-in is a mystery, like the forming of capacitors, dielectric relaxation, burning off trace gasses inside tubes, chemical changes to cathode sleeves.

But what of solid transistors? Wires? Connectors?

Doubters offer smug counters like "it's the listener breaking in, not the components"—a shallow quip designed to wash away the observable. Yet, no amount of verbal scrubbing can make this go away.

Break in and its impacts are real, verifiable, repeatable and, interestingly enough, long-lived. Break in's effects don't go away for a very long time. In some cases, never.

Most of us understand the importance of break in for new gear.

Do yourself a favor the next time new kit arrives. Plug it in, let it go for at least 24 hours.

It is truly breaking bad.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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