Processor/Amp Break-in Period

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Arron H, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. Arron H

    Arron H Second Unit

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    I recently purchased brand new separate components - a Rotel 1066 processor and 1075 multichannel amp. In general, does new gear require a break-in period? Specifically, how long for the 1066/1075? Does anyone have any suggestions for breaking in new components?
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Arron, properly designed electronic components do not require a break-in period, despite what pundits in the "high-end" audio press may say. They do, however, require about fifteen to thirty minutes of operation for the voltage to stabilize.
     
  3. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Jack is quite correct. While very large, massive units may take longer amounts of time to reach thermal equilibrium. Nonetheless, despite that this longer time may in fact cause minor changes in certain electrical characteristics, competent designers are well aware of this and design the final product such that it still meets its performance specifiations.

    The primary reason why a dealer, or a manufacturer, will say something takes some large amount of time to break in has to do with ensuring that you, the consumer, keeps the unit in your home for a longer period of time. It gives you time to acclimate yourself to it's appearance, the way it works, to contact, via forums such as this, other individuals who may have the same unit so that you can get reassurance and some testimonial justification for your purchace. Especially in the case where perhaps you've overextended yourself financially, the vendor wants to give you the time to get used to the purchase. While they want you to be happy, they also want to make the sale. It's a delicate tight-rope dance. This is especially true with products that command a relatively high price tag and enormously true for products that have no sound scientific basis for performing either differently or 'better'.

    You should take as long as you need to make sure, to your own satisfaction, that what you've bought both meets your needs and that it represents an acceptable transfer of funds.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    That's the first time I've heard conspiracy theory applied to component break-in.

    In a high-resolution system, it is never surprising to hear a power amp or preamp audibly improve over time. I learned years ago to not judge a component over the first few hours of use.

    More than a few components I've purchased were disappointing after the first hour or two of listening. But then I would let the new component run for several hours per day over a few days and then listen again. Sometimes no change was noted, and the component was returned to the dealer. Other times there was a minor improvement in smoothness and clarity, but not nearly enough to make me want to keep the product. Occasionally the improvement was significant, and the component delivered the performance I was anticipating.

    The longest run-in time I have ever experienced was a McIntosh MA6500 integrated amp purchased last year. Out of the box it sounded quite good, but I was a little let down after what I had heard at a dealer. I fed it white noise and TV audio from a satellite receiver at moderate volume for about 20 hours a day and didn't notice much improvement after about 10 days. Uh, oh. OK, don't panic yet, I told myself. Be patient. Then, after another few days of run-in time, I sat down to listen critically. The amp was now significantly smoother and cleaner. A very slight glare in the upper midrange completely vanished. The musical sound I fell in love with at my dealer was now in my room.

    In sum, do components need break-in time? Sometimes no. Sometimes yes. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot.
     
  5. Arron H

    Arron H Second Unit

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    Thanks to all for your replies. Obviously, there is a lot of disparity of thought on this issue and so, I guess I will just have to let my ears decide [​IMG] To me, the sound was great right out of the box but when I asked the dealer about break in, he indicated that I should leave both the processor and the amp turned on 24/7 for a couple of weeks.
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    There is no conspiracy theory but it is a well-known marketing technique. Degrees in marketing and offshoots of it, involving psychology exist for some pretty good reasons. The more you know about the various techniques that are employed in selling a product, the better you can move that to the side and make a more informed decision that's right for you and not for them.

    While off-topic, consider companies that allow you to demo a product at home for 30 days when you do mail or internet-order. Outlaw, Axiom, Ascend, others do this. On one hand, this sounds like a pretty good deal. And it is because I for one, would not be locked into a purchase that I couldn't return. However consider that a buyer, if he decides to return an item, is going to have to eat s/h both ways. Insurance too. Also there's the hassle if you will of repackaging, arranging for shipment. If you think this 30 day offer isn't being done for multiple reasons, one among them being to cement your shoes a bit, then you're not looking behind the door.

    Long listening periods allow other factors to come into play and influence our decisions. And that's fine. You ought to be comfortable with your decision, with the way it looks, with its idiosynchracies, with god knows what. However, you'll find, that the more fringe the product is, the more expensive it is, the longer the vendor wants you to have it in your possession.

    I think it's a good thing to leave a piece of equipment on while you have it. Ensure it's not going to suffer a catastrophic failure. Work all it's modes. Make sure there's no hum, no clicking, check the connections, wiggle them, do all that you can to make sure to the best of your abilities, that this particular whatever isn't a lemon. Hit the forums, Usenet, see if there's something that really pisses people off about the unit. Maybe it'll piss you off too.

    I stand firmly in the camp of the consumer and like it when I'm pretty sure that it's my hand that's on my wallet.
     
  7. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    The dealers of high-end products with which I have dealt over the years, including those store owners who are close friends, do not play marketing games with customers. They keep it simple and honest. Listen to desired components in the store, pick out which one you like best, buy it (or borrow the demo model for a brief period), and try it at home. If you like it sufficiently, you'll keep it. If you don't like it, return it for another model or brand, or get a full refund. It is up to the customer.

    If the dealer suggests the product might improve after some break-in time, it just might be based on real-world experience with the component. The best dealers listen to a product right out of the box, then run it in and listen again. It is not uncommon for a dealer to avoid demonstrating a product until after a break-in period. No point in losing sales because a component has not reached peak performance.

    I knew one dealer (now retired) who first tested a new product in his home system to see if it performed to a level that would earn his recommendation. Many did not and would not be sold in his store. Too many like this of the same brand and the company's entire line would be dropped. Then he and his staff (sometimes with my help) would audition other brands to find a replacement.

    The best dealers know their products well and make recommendations about purchase and use based on experience.

    The above business model works extremely well and keeps customers coming back for many years. There are no real or imagined marketing tricks involved, just a good, honest relationship with the customer. Plus, a love for music and film.

    I hope everybody has at least one dealer like this in their area. Such shops are a treasure and make this hobby tremendous fun.
     
  8. Arron H

    Arron H Second Unit

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    FWIW, the dealer that I am working with indicated that they will not put there Classe units on the floor for demoing until they have been powered up for 16 days, 24/7. Maybe it's a myth, maybe there's something to it. I don't see how it can hurt - as Chu suggests, it's a very good opportunity to make sure there aren't any bugs.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Work those babies out and really really try to find something wrong. Nothing worse than having to deal with interminable delays with repairs, even if under warranty. Dealers do lots of funny things and carry lots of funny products but then so do supermarkets, pharmacies, and auto parts places.
     

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