Nature vs. nurture

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The debate about break-in and its long term effect or, for that matter, whether there is any effect or not, is still being strongly debated. It's unlikely through this blog of mine we're going to solve it. However, I am hopeful we can continue shedding some light on the subject.

One of the central questions is nature or nurture? Does break in truly do something to the equipment? That would be the nature of the process. Or do we, as listeners, get adjusted to the sound over time? That would be nurture.

I can tell you from personal experience I believe the answer is strongly tilted in the direction of nature. Here's why. I have made multiple experiments over the years demonstrating the permanence of the break in process. Others have as well. In my experiments of late, I have taken two DirectStream DACs and auditioned them both right out of the box. They sounded essentially identical. I then set one aside and left the other plugged in for about two weeks. I then plugged the second unit into the system, left it to warm up all day, and repeated the listening test. Clearly, the two week old DirectStream DAC sounded more open, sweeter and spacious than the rather closed in sounding newbie.

I have also repeated this same experiment with power cables. A pair of AC 12 power cables of identical length. One has been in the system for months, perhaps close to a year, the other sits idly on the floor, used occasionally when needed. I can always tell you which is which.

Here's yet another. For many years we had access to a cable break in box. I am not sure which company's product it was, but it was very effective. I could easily take a power cable right out of the box and audition it cold. Which makes sense since it never gets warm. It sounded closed in, tight, unwelcome in the system. It was easy to hear. I then removed it from the system, placed it into the cable burn in box, and let the thing do whatever it did over the weekend. On Monday I'd try the cable again. Bingo! Better. No nurture, no break in of me.

The empirical evidence of break in's value and long term effects convinces me it is real.

Does that prove anything?

To me it does.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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