Paul is talking about breaking in audio and home theater components and this is something I truly believe in.
There are two different types of breaking in. One is breaking in new components, whether it is electronics, speakers or cables. I have found, with complicated electronics, that this can take up to 500 hours of playing time.
The Parasound JC-1 monoblock amplifiers I owned 10 years ago come to mind here. They were the most extreme example I’ve experienced with break in of audio components. They sounded great out of the box and then gradually got darker and darker sounding. Then, they started lighting back up until they got what I considered neutral. The they kept going lighter, until I thought their final sound was tilted up in the treble. Then they started a downward trend until they got it right. Nice amps….
The other is more what I would call warm up and to me, both need to happen with music playing. I warm my system up for at least an hour, each time I plan on listening, which is pretty much every day.
Here is Paul.
The best sounding cables I have heard were a bare set of wires. Hardly practical in the real world, cables without shielding and insulation sound better than those with them.
We insulate cables so their conductors don’t electrically touch each other. We shield them with tin foil or woven metal to protect them from noise.
None of these techniques of isolation and noise reduction improve sound quality. Air is the best insulator and a noise free environment what we hope for if we want to avoid shielding. Unfortunately, dangling conductors in the air is as impractical as hoping for a noise free environment. Insulation and shielding are necessary evils.
The problem with insulators is energy storage. When a signal is passed along the conductor they cover, small portions of the signal are stored then released in the insulation. This effect can be measured and enumerated using what’s known as the Dielectric Constant. If we’re building a capacitor we want that number high. If it’s a cable, the lower the number the better.
Of the readily available insulation materials, Teflon has one of the lowest dielectric constants—far lower than standard insulation. But Teflon’s expensive and hard to work with, which is why it’s used sparingly.
In our ongoing discussion of break-in, I suspect it is this dielectric constant that changes with signal.