I want to talk about an essential part of your Hi-fi system, called Audiophile cable burn in. And, it does not matter what type of audio system you have. Or even the price of your system because everything needs to have a burn-in time. How long should this burn-in process take, and why is it necessary are questions always asked!
You will be surprised to learn that many people have never heard about the Audiophile cable burn-in process. And, many audiophiles have not even heard about it. The reason in many cases is because a person has never been made aware of this process, which is essential for the audio system to develop its full potential.
Cable burn in
One thing to understand is that an Audiophile cable is an essential part of the audio system. But, unfortunately, this is often overlooked because a person is unaware of the importance of a suitable audiophile cable. And lack of understanding can lead to problems when a person is trying to get more from his system than is possible. Also, frustration and disbelief can follow, which leaves a person with a bitter taste in their mouth.
Is there a difference between audio cables, and, if there is, what is it? An audio cable has a specific job: to transfer information from one component to the next. And must neither add nor subtract any of this information from the original signal. A suitable cable will do this correctly, but a poor quality cable will fail, as it cannot transfer the original information correctly.
A suitable audio cable comes at a price, whereas a poorly made or lower grade cable commands a low price. Also, a ‘high-end’ cable will cost a very high price. Let me give you some pricing examples, and I will start with my favourite, the Power cable.
- Standard power cable – usually supplied with the component, and costs 15 – 30 Euros.
- Upgraded power cable – provided by a good hi-fi store, and costs 300 – 900 Euros.
- High-end power cable – supplied from a high-end dealer and costs 1000 – 7000 euros
As you can see, there is a considerable variation between the prices, but is there a difference in the sound heard at the loudspeakers? At, this point I will say yes, there is a difference. And depending on the quality and price of the cable, the difference can be huge!
I mentioned a Power cable because it was a power cable that caused me to start Perkune audiophile cables. And I will never forget what happened to me about eighteen years ago. I wrote an article at the time called ‘Power cord changed my life.’ And, I knew nothing about cables, cable direction, let alone Audiophile cable burn-in. The power cable in the picture (made by ‘Nordost’) can be called an upgraded power cable. And, this power cable certainly did change my life!
I have great respect for ‘Nordost‘, as they are the leaders in the industry. And, I would like to share some information from the Nordost website:
“When you connect a cable, the directionality not established. However, once the signal is running current through, the trapped gases are dissipated. Small impurities in the conductor’s metal begin to act like a diode, favouring current flow in a particular direction. Using extensive bandwidth signals and a range of both ultra-low and high-frequency sweeps, the conductors neutralises charges and improves how signals pass through metal, ultrasonically conditions the surface of the conductors. It is these changes in both the conductor and insulation material that refines performance in audio cables.”
While it is most important to implement burn-in upon purchase, there is something to be gained from routine maintenance. If cables are left unused for a prolonged period, they become stagnant. And even though everyday cable use, electrical equipment experiences current leakage, imparting a charge onto your cables.
How long do my cables have to break in?
Usually, we recommend at least 168 hours. However, our Reference level cables require at least 336 hours.
What is the best way to break in my cables?
The best way to break in your cables is to burn them in on the Nordost VIDAR machine by an Authorised Dealer. Most dealers will do this for a small charge, and many offer this service when you buy your cables from them.
Can I have my cables burned in at the Nordost factory?
No, we don’t offer this service at our factory due to the volume of work and the logistics involved.
What happens during break-in?
Considerable changes occur in the cable during the break-in process. Any gases trapped between the insulation and the conductors during manufacturing dissipated. Additionally, the insulation material charges up. As a result, the diode effects of the conductor will be more pronounced after 168 hours of break-in. During this time, the cable takes on a direction.
How long does break-in last?
If the cable unused for more than one month, it will benefit from being broken in on the VIDAR. It is a good idea to bring your cables back to your local dealer every year and have them broken in again. Audiophile cable burn in
Why is the VIDAR better for breaking in cables?
The VIDAR applies a wide-band signal of varying amplitude through the cable. In the ordinary course of use, cables such as tonearm and analogue interconnects never get a high movement level. Meaning it can take a long time for them to break in thoroughly. The VIDAR speeds up this process by the combination of frequencies it puts through the cable. As a result, the results from the VIDAR will be better than any other break-in method used.
Cables such as tonearms and analogue interconnect usually are never exposed to high signal levels, so it takes an extra long time for them to break in. When a cable connected to the VIDAR, subjected to a wideband signal of varying amplitude. The combination of frequencies put through the cable speed up the break-in process. As a result, results from the VIDAR will always be better than any other break-in method used.
There is a saying, ‘As we grow, we learn, and as we learn, we grow.’ And, this is true in every walk of life. But, when it comes to Audiophile cable burn-in, it becomes a different story. During my years working with audio and audiophiles, I now understand that every person has another way of hearing. And indeed, when trying to determine the correct cable for your audio system can make it nearly impossible because you are unable to hear the subtle difference a new cable can make.
So how do you hear? Are you able to hear above 20K and below 20Hz, or are you hovering around the 50hz – 15K mark. Or, do you find it hard to listen to that 7k-10K midrange frequencies? In March, I worked with a colleague and wrote the results of a series of hearing test we performed. Although there is a forty-year age difference between us, the results were quite surprising!
Great information from Nordost and I agree in principle with most of the points. But I will say with Perkune audiophile cables the burn-in process is must faster.
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Author: Paul A. Goodwin (Perkune audiophile cables)
Perkune – Best budget Audiophile Cables