[the gorgeous kim tae hee]
i am not sure if it is because of my frequency of upgrades, burning-in seems to take up a large part of my time in hifi. whether it is for tubes or cables, i do indeed spend a large amount of time in burning-in.
the law of physics is such that any new equipment would only sound optimal after at least 200 hours of burning-in. in my memory, equipment that took a considerable time to burn-in include the audio magic stealth mini reference (500 hours) and now the stage III gryphon interconnects (estimate to be in the region of 500 hours too). i have blogged about the minute changes in power tubes years ago, you can search the archive.
while burning-in is a long and boring process, observing the minute changes in the sound is an interesting one. for an interconnect and power cord, the first 10 hours are crucial, for it tells almost 70% of the "base" sound. once it is past 20 hours, the sound starts getting worse you can no longer use it as a guide.
i often leave my equipment (with the exception of power amp!) on overnight. in the case of burning-in the gryphon, i play my cd (XLO burn-in CD track #9, no less) non-stop for more than 10 hours a day. in the case of the audio magic, i had a mini fan switched on 24/7 to expedite the process. and the next morning when i wake up, i would switch on the system and monitor the progress. often times, it gives plenty of surprises, especially when the sound suddenly opens up, with its veil lifted. i would say in 8 out of 10 times, the sound changes, for better or for worse.
i always tell my audio buddies that the burning-in process is akin to a bud blossoming into a beautiful flower. if you observe it every day, the bud will bloom, the pedals will open up and the shape will form gradually - it is a magical process. in hifi, the same happens albeit in a more complicated ways. typically, an interconnect goes thru at least 20 cycles (the thicker the longer!) of what i call "peaks and troughs" - meaning it sounds good for 10 hours and then suddenly the sound changes for the worse, with the whole cycle repeating 20 times, each time the "good" gets better, the "worse" also get less worse, before the burning-in process completes.
the most frustrating part is when you think the "good" sounds has finally stablized, it gets worse again, so you need another 10-20 hours before you get back an even better sound. if you are the impatient kind, you may just give up!
trust me, i am an expert in observing these minute changes as i have played so many interconnects, power cords and tubes in the past 10 years. i certainly know when the cable has "some way to go" and when "it is well-cooked". i can't say i enjoy the process but i must say, you can beat physics and law of nature. i do know that in US, audiophiles buy cable burner which could expedite the process but i feel that's not a natural way to burn-in a piece the gear. during the entire 500 hours, i practically don't enjoy the music but waiting patiently for the day to come when i could sit back and relax.
if you are not into observing burning-in and you can't be bothered with "bad" sound for at least 200 hours, then my advice is - just enjoy the music!
it would be interesting to know what you do when you gear is burning-in.
[the gorgeous kim tae hee]