The light stays on!

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The subject of break in, the tendency of equipment to improve (change) over on-time, is a controversial one. Yesterday's post suggested 'warm up' might be a more accurate term, since burn-in or break-in implies a one-way effect, while warm-up has a less permanent connotation. But that didn't keep some of you from writing me to correct the term and bring us back to what we're comfortable with, burn-in. None of these terms accurately describes what's going on, when it comes to a piece of electronics, but hopefully we can agree the improvements of extended on-times are not permanent. The device in question returns to its original state after being off for a length of time. But that probably can be debated as well.

I wanted to share a quick story with you this morning. Years ago few paid any attention to burn-in. Stan and I tried our best to convince our customers the preamp would sound its best if people left it running. Our arguments mostly fell on deaf ears, so ingrained was the idea of turning off equipment at that time - a habit I suspect left over from the tube days.

So we decided to take the situation in our own hands. If our customers would not pay attention to our words, we'd make sure their units sounded good anyway. That brought in the era, for PS Audio, of the standby front panel power switch; common today, but for a different reason. In those days, the front panel power switches did exactly what their name implies: shut off the power. We were, to my knowledge, the first manufacturer to reverse that trend and do nothing more than simply turn off the front panel LED and mute the outputs of the preamp. Thus, our unit stayed on and warmed up. To the customer, it looked as if it was off. Everyone was happy.

Today pretty much all electronics does this, in one fashion or another, but for a very different reason: the remote control. Keeping the unit's power on is necessary so it can read the commands of your remote control and turn 'on' when you press power. Back then, there were no stinking remotes!

So yes, we believed then, as we do now, in the benefits of burn-in.

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Paul McGowan

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