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Thank you for all the great dialog on Break In started yesterday in this post. There's lots I am sifting through, probably resulting in a couple of guest posts; so many people having so much to say on the subject. Perhaps the best place to start is by picking off the low hanging fruit: mechanical break in. Loudspeakers, headphones and phono cartridges would be the most obvious pieces in our system that supported the idea of break in. Materials like woofer surrounds are the easiest to understand. Here we have reasonably pliable materials manufacturers use that need to stretch and find their optimum flexibilities before they are truly broken in. When new, most surround materials are purposefully stiff and need to be flexed. Another area you might not be aware of on a loudspeaker is called the 'spider', the rear suspension system of a driver. Picture a woofer cone. The front that you see moving is obviously held in place by the outer rubber surround that attaches the cone to the driver's metal frame. The spider is an accordion-like material holding the rear of the cone in place. Take a look at this photo I scrounged off the internet. Spider The yellow part is the spider, the top folds around the perimeter the surround. When a speaker is new, the surround and spider are stiff and need to be flexed to get them loosened up. This process can take anywhere from several hours to several hundred hours depending on the design. This is one reason a new pair of speakers sounds stiff and 'tight assed'. Also, should your loudspeakers sit for any good length of time, the surround and spider can get stiff again. A flat panel planar style speaker such as a Magnaplanar or an electrostatic, even a ribbon or an AMT style, has a similar issue, although does not have a surround or spider to deal with. Another area of obvious break in is the venerable phono cartridge; the cantilever is typically held in place with an elastomer that needs to be broken in as well. Here's a picture: tt_mm_principle_390 This Sure cartridge is simplified, but you get the idea. We'll look at the harder stuff tomorrow. Keep the thoughts and comments rolling in.
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Paul McGowan

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