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Cable Burn-In: A Census on Head-Fi!

Poll Results: Cable burn-in: Fact or Fiction?

 
  • 13% (21)
    Fact
  • 74% (113)
    Fiction
  • 11% (18)
    Unsure
152 Total Votes  
post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

I am posting this thread and poll to see how members of Head-Fi feel about the ever-controversial topic of cable burn in. The poll itself is as neutral as I could possibly make it. I am NOT looking to start yet another debate on the subject, just a kind of census to see where the community stands.

 

So how do you feel? Is burn in a fact or fiction? Are you not sure? 

 

If you feel the need to post, please don't troll other folks or start a flame war. 

 

 

 

post #2 of 39

The results of the poll will vary with where you post it. Here in Sound Science I would expect fiction to come out top.

post #3 of 39

I think cables have the ability to change the sound, especially if your old ones were damaged or the incorrect gauge. But the change dosent seem drastic enough to justify the cost of exotic "high end" cables. Money can easily be spent elsewhere with more benefit.

 

Cables will be the very last thing I upgrade, and thats if I get a cost no object system.

post #4 of 39

Decent cables will inevitably sound better than crappy, bottom-of-the-pack ones, but at some point it starts to get ridiculous. I remember reading an entire paragraph written about a pair of RCA connectors. Connectors. And no, I don't believe in cable or amp burn-in. I do believe in headphone burn-in and warming up tubes and capacitors, however.

I think it's important that cables aren't the weak link in your system, but I just want well-built ones without spending so much on something so trivial. Brands like Ethereal, Impact Acoustics, Vampire Wire, Blue Jeans Cable, and NuForce all offer good value.

post #5 of 39

There are changes which happen to the Cu and dielectrics in the cables with time.  The question is whether or not anyone can hear anything audible in the slight changes that occur.

 

Here are the four physical phenomenon I know about:

1) The Cu crystal grains that make up the wire will slowly grow.  It's called grain coarsening.  The larger Cu grains will have a slightly lower resistance than the smaller grains since there will be fewer grain boundaries to scatter the electrons carrying the current.  If the Cu was oxygen free and was annealed after being drawn into wire, this effect will be extremely minimal.

2) High current such as that which might be present in a power amp driving huge bass woofers can cause electromigration, or movement of the Cu atoms at the grain boundaries which can slowly separate the grain boundaries.  This leads to higher resistance.  Electromigration occurs on the order of 1e5 A/cm2 in Cu.  This is not going to happen in the wire of a headphone.  Also, electromigration is almost unmeasurable in wires which carry AC current.

3) As with any dielectric, the transmission characteristics of the wire will change a bit as it is stimulated by a signal.  However, audible frequencies are so low that transmission line properties hardly matter.

4) Kinking a wire will introduce all sorts of grain boundary separations and dielectric distortions, changing both the resistance and transmission characteristics of the wire.  Ask yourself if you've ever heard a difference in a cable after accidently crimping it (assuming you didn't sever it).

post #6 of 39

I was just at a meet with a $3000 usb cable.  A $3000 usb cable.  blink.gif

post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AVU View Post

I was just at a meet with a $3000 usb cable.  A $3000 usb cable.  blink.gif


Did it have wings on it? wink.gif

 

post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

The results of the poll will vary with where you post it. Here in Sound Science I would expect fiction to come out top.

 

x2, by a large margin.

 

And I'm voting FACT, which increases that total by 50%
 

 

post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345142 View Post

Decent cables will inevitably sound better than crappy, bottom-of-the-pack ones,

 

Sorry, but this is just not proven as yet, I've tested freebie RCA cables against cables costing $139 and the measurable differences in terms of  noise and FR were miniscule and inaudible in DBT, there was the coathanger cable test where RCA cables made from soldered-together coathangers were indistinguishable from proper RCA cables and so on...

 

post #10 of 39

They still sound slightly better to me, not to a machine. But I should have known the responses I was going to get for posting my opinion.

post #11 of 39
I have heard problems with cables from Monoprice simply because of their shielding. I could distortion that was immediately discernible as being interference (similar things can happen when you have wireless devices, e.g. cell phones, next to tube amps). I have never heard any of these silly, vague improvements like "increased soundstage" or "spacious" sound or "clarity."
post #12 of 39


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345142 View Post

They still sound slightly better to me, not to a machine. But I should have known the responses I was going to get for posting my opinion.
 

You said:

Quote:
Decent cables will inevitably sound better than crappy, bottom-of-the-pack ones,

If you can discern the difference between a given-away (but functional) cable and a more expensive (also functional) cable in a double blind test I will accept it as evidence, to merely assert standard issue audiophile wisdom and present it as fact without supporting evidence is not evidence it is dogma. I've done listening tests between freebies and expensive cables and under blind conditions I have not been able to tell them apart, more to the point nor has anyone else who has ever tested analog cables in DBT conditions


Edited by nick_charles - 4/5/11 at 6:53pm
post #13 of 39

This is not worth debating, so I give up.

 

You win, all right?

post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345142 View Post

This is not worth debating, so I give up.

 

You win, all right?

It was never about winning; it's about evidence and not just testimonials that are full of bias from the mind and emotions. Anyone can believe whatever they want but I'm sure most of us here want something objective.
 

 

post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

The results of the poll will vary with where you post it. Here in Sound Science I would expect fiction to come out top.

 

I agree with you, Prog.

 

In the interest of accuracy and neutrality I have posted a link to this poll in the cable forum here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/548006/head-fi-census-i-need-your-vote

 

Hopefully this will increase the number of votes and give us a broader picture.

 

 

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