Treading into dangerous waters

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No one ever said I was smart. And none are likely to speak up now after reading the subject of the next series of posts: equipment break in. Tough subject filled with wildly varying opinions and heated collars. So, in typical Paul style, why not jump in feet first? Watch this video to see why jumping in with little knowledge may not be such a good idea. The good news is that fellow in the video survived, though the chances of my emerging from this series unscathed are zero. The idea of improving the sound of equipment through long periods of use isn't new. I can remember back to the early 1970's when it was always understood new speakers sounded "tight assed" when you first played them. Later, as we became a larger manufacturer, we began noticing our own just-built products consistently sounded better after a 24 hour burn in period, though they measured identically. I am not certain of the history of the break in phenomena's acceptance in audiophile circles, but over the years I've watched as it's morphed from speakers, to electronics, to cables, to turntables–hell–even rooms! In fact, I think the growth of break in as a cure all has become its own worst enemy. Manufacturers routinely assign blame for poor sounding equipment to a lack of break in, often demanding hundreds, sometimes even thousands of hours of play before the unit magically transforms itself and reaches its prime, like an aged piece of meat (or so this vegetarian has been told). In fact, I would go so far as to suggest break in is often used as a crutch–to the point of silliness–by anyone and everyone whose opinions on the sound of things don't agree with our own. We'll jump in feet first tomorrow and hope there will be no sharks lurking about, though I can hear lips smacking and knives sharpening as I hit the send button.
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Paul McGowan

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