How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 8

04/04/2014

There’s a phenomenon that audiophiles know well: burn-in, or break-in. Every single audio component you get, according to them, needs to be burned in. You need to run it for days, even weeks to get optimal sound. This is necessary for speakers, amps, CD players, and, yes, cables.

The concept of burning or breaking in physical devices, such as speakers, makes sense; speakers turn electrical impulses into music through vibrations, and it’s logical that a speaker, and its housing, will react to those vibrations. But suggesting that cables need to be broken in; well, that’s just typical audiophile BS.

Here’s a review of a set of cables; the reviewer has an interesting approach:

I will only review a complete cable loom, regardless of which manufacturer is supplying it. This should comprise of everything from the mains leads, through the interconnects to the speakers and might also incorporate data cables if a computer is included in the system.

Of course, this doesn’t make his review any more grounded than others. Regarding burn-in, he says:

After about three weeks of daily use the cables began to undergo a change. There was always a slight question mark in my head over their absolute resolving power through the midband and after initially feeling very complimentary of their impeccable balance they seemed to grow a little soft and somewhat dull. But, gradually a new performance level was taking shape and they just grew in sophistication and balance as the weeks rolled by. What emerged was an even livelier cable set than before with an extra edge and clarity to their dynamic resolving power. The system had put on some weight, but in all the right places, drawing the electronics together as a more enjoyable whole with an even better feeling of stability to the musical picture. Now the system was sounding like a single musically focussed unit rather than a collection of expensive components.

But then he changed one cable, the interconnect between the CD player and amp:

I am not saying the system sounded bad. In fact the sound became warmer and fatter, but the rhythmic togetherness and the whole swing and beating pulse of the music had vanished. Now it stuttered along like so many high-end systems I hear. It was certainly impressive hi-fi, but the detailed focus and explicit telling of the musical story was severely compromised.

Ah, the explicit telling of the musical story… It’s a shame when it’s severely compromised.