Do we burn in cables or our mindsets?

Response to my article about LessLoss power cables

Thank you, Mr. Isak, for posting your initial listening impressions about
the LessLoss DFPC Signature power cord. I am glad that you found the
results immediate, obvious, and musical. A lot of people react in a
similar way to how you have -- they didn't need all that long to figure
out what was going on, and almost immediately embrace the results as
positive and "closer to the audio truth".

However, some times, it seems to take a longer time for some people to
acknowledge that these power cables are really doing something special. It
is interesting to note that some people report that up to a week or even
two weeks(!) are needed for the power cable to start functioning in a
benefitial way. At first I found that suspicious, as though the power
cables we sent out were perhaps somehow damaged or not working properly.
But over the years, having sent out over three thousand of these power
cords to a worldwide audience, there seems to have emerged a pattern with
regards to power cable burn in that suggests that it may in fact be in
part the result of the listener(!) needing the adjustment, not the power
cable. Perhaps some people are more slow to take on a new sound, and to
evaluate whether it is better or worse. This is not a bad thing. Just like
with every decision, there are people who make them more quickly, and
people who make them more slowly. The same power cable can be returned
from a gentleman who said they are not good for his system, and given to
another person who is more than happy with the results, even if the
equipment is very similar in both cases. So evidently there are issues
with the hearing of the individuals. The politically correct term for this
is "system synergy" issues, meaning of course (without saying it) that the
listener is part of the system in this case.

But of course he is. There are even theories and tweaks out there which
claim to influence not at all the sound wave, but your own interpretation
of it as a listener. Everyone knows that your mood is different before and
after sex, before and after a meal, before and after sleep, etc. So there
can be credibility in all of these theories. However, I find it is the job
of all audiophiles, upon evaluation, to try and divorce themselves as much
as possible from these fluctuating moods. Like you said in your article,
you either hear it or you don't. You either like it or you don't. But this
doesn't mean you shouldn't give yourself enough time to figure out what it
is you are hearing, and whether this is a good or bad thing in terms of
the genuine message of the music.

I myself am very quick to make audio decisions, but have been accused
because of this trait to sometimes 'jump to conclusions' a little too
quickly. What I can say about burn-in is this: you may not hear the final
burned in sound from the very first three notes, but you will definitely
hear all of the potential of that piece of new gear in the first three
notes. Why this is, and how all of this works, really remains a mystery.

I ask almost every client of ours to provide their personal account of
what they are hearing at the beginning, so that I could study this "burn
in" issue. To date, nobody I have consulted, and nobody who has written
me, can give any conclusive ideas or even a slightly less vague theory as
to what burn-in might indeed be. Once the gear has settled into one system
does not yet mean that it has settled into another one, either! I have had
experience where a completely burned in piece of equipment has traveled
with me on a two-day car journey to another sound system. Upon plugging it
in there, I heard, with my own two ears, 30 minutes of undeniable settling
in! I do not believe that it was my ears doing the adjusting, but I cannot
prove it.

So what it is? Does anybody know by now? Please let us know! I find this
the most mysterious and fascinating topic in all of high end audio.
Because nobody seems to know what it is, and it seems to ellude everything
you can throw at it: psychology, emotional analysis, measurement,
recognition, repeatability, even logical necessity!

Perhaps it has something to do with orientation. After all, we all know
that we enjoy a symphony concert's sound better after we have ourselved
"settled into" the acoustics of the environment. Maybe settling in is the
same as orientation: we first filter out all of the unneeded information
so that we could focus on the interesting aspect. Just my 2 cents worth of
speculation.

Louis Motek
LessLoss Audio
www.LessLoss.com