Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

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IndigoRock2001
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Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by IndigoRock2001 » 10 Aug 2018 04:36

When a cartridge has run for 40 hours (seems to be the norm) what's happening which puts it into a state which can be called "broken in"? Why does it sound it's best? What has happened to the Magnets or the Coils or the stylus or the cantilever which makes it sound better? Does one of these components of the cartridge play a larger factor in making it "broken in"?
indi

Spinner45
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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by Spinner45 » 10 Aug 2018 06:08

I don't believe in such things, myths, hearsay, etc..
Other people seem to.

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by audiopile » 10 Aug 2018 07:36

In general I'm not a great believer in break in - this belief probably has never hurt anyone - so -to some extent -doesn't matter. At least with the beginning and the end (cart and speakers/phones) -it's possible some mechanical part (elastomer doughnut or surround or spider or ?) is settling into proper/designed position within the product.Nothing is more powerful on a shop sales floor than the ol' A/B comparison .Trouble is that long term listening is more important than just listening for the contrast between two products - we will almost always have a bias in favor of whatever is louder. By waiting for "break in" to occur - manufacturers are hoping we listen to their product long enough to learn to enjoy it . OK -or avoid it like head lice. I'm not sure how experimentally it could be determined what specific parts or assemblies within a cart or speaker were changing with use ?

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by Agrippa » 10 Aug 2018 08:36

I firmly believe in break-in - of the listener. That said, with speakers and cartridges there is scientific basis for accepting a certain break-in period, but not the 50, 100 or more hours often claimed. For everything non-mechanical break-in happens entirely between the ears.

Sadly too many people believe their senses are finely calibrated instruments and that their brains simply cannot be fooled, when in fact human perception and cognition are about as easily duped and fallible as can be.

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by billshurv » 10 Aug 2018 09:28

For a cheap bonded stylus you can imagine a linishing effect going on to improve the polish. Suspension break in I have trouble with, OTOH Ortofon claim it must be done for some of their DJ cartridges!

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by DeepEnd » 10 Aug 2018 10:43

Sorry but I’m one of those people who believe in “breaking/running in” of cartridges (and to a certain extent electronics especially capacitors)..

On cartridges there are two possible sources of the phenomenon:-

Suspension - assembling the cantilever into the suspension part and into the body is likely to impose a number of stresses into the assembly/elastomer. These are probably relaxed over the initial 20-40 hours which is why a number of manufacturers recommend rechecking alignment, tracking force etc. after an initial period of time.

Stylus polishing - I think no matter how well the polishing stage after grinding is done there is a further “in situ” polishing that takes place. The better the polishing the longer this takes (100-200 hours?) and the less the amount of change (examples being Denon’s stylus, Paratrace, Gyger, Microline etc.) so these tend to sound good out of the box and you are unlikely to notice any changes without recording before and after. If the polishing is not as well done (eg to save time/money) the the changes are probably greater and probably take place over a similar period of time as the suspension changes and you are much more likely to notice the changes.

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by billshurv » 10 Aug 2018 11:18

I will avoid commenting on the capacitor break in to keep the peace :P

100-200 hours will wear a flat into a conical diamond as its a significant percentage of its expected life. Ray's microscope photos show that. Worth considering.

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by EdAInWestOC » 10 Aug 2018 12:43

DeepEnd wrote:Sorry but I’m one of those people who believe in “breaking/running in” of cartridges (and to a certain extent electronics especially capacitors)..

On cartridges there are two possible sources of the phenomenon:-

Suspension - assembling the cantilever into the suspension part and into the body is likely to impose a number of stresses into the assembly/elastomer. These are probably relaxed over the initial 20-40 hours which is why a number of manufacturers recommend rechecking alignment, tracking force etc. after an initial period of time.

Stylus polishing - I think no matter how well the polishing stage after grinding is done there is a further “in situ” polishing that takes place. The better the polishing the longer this takes (100-200 hours?) and the less the amount of change (examples being Denon’s stylus, Paratrace, Gyger, Microline etc.) so these tend to sound good out of the box and you are unlikely to notice any changes without recording before and after. If the polishing is not as well done (eg to save time/money) the the changes are probably greater and probably take place over a similar period of time as the suspension changes and you are much more likely to notice the changes.
Agreed, in fact there are cartridge manufacturers who have published the number of hours for the expected breakin period. I guess the people who make cartridges and publish such information are subject to illusions too...sorry. :oops:

Ortofon, who makes my Windfeld Ti, says that the cartridge should perform well right out of the box but you should expect improvements after the first 10 hours of use.

https://www.ortofon.com/hifi/products/h ... -ti/set-up

Ed

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by billshurv » 10 Aug 2018 13:32

Your winfield passed QA with zero hours on it to make the pretty graphs that come in the box. So if it meets spec at zero hours who does it get better?

And they actually say
Although the MC Windfeld Ti will provide top reproduction right out of the box, the cartridge may slightly change character during the first tens of hours of use.
That is subtly different from them claiming that there is a breakin

Of course Ortofon are not consistent and of the S-120 they say
Although all cartridges require break-in to reach their rated performance, the S-120 relies more heavily on this process. This is because the suspension is designed to provide an extraordinary level of flexibility in the horizontal plane while still remaining extremely rigid in the vertical plane. We recommend 50 break-in hours of DJ use for optimal performance, but if this is not possible, we recommend try leaving the cartridge sitting on a stationary record at maximum tracking force during times the turntable is not in use.
Now the S-120 is fairly unique and they may be pandering to a superstitious target market. We don't know as no actual measurements have been posted.

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by EdAInWestOC » 10 Aug 2018 13:44

billshurv wrote:Your winfield passed QA with zero hours on it to make the pretty graphs that come in the box. So if it meets spec at zero hours who does it get better?

And they actually say
Although the MC Windfeld Ti will provide top reproduction right out of the box, the cartridge may slightly change character during the first tens of hours of use.
That is subtly different from them claiming that there is a breakin

Of course Ortofon are not consistent and of the S-120 they say
Although all cartridges require break-in to reach their rated performance, the S-120 relies more heavily on this process. This is because the suspension is designed to provide an extraordinary level of flexibility in the horizontal plane while still remaining extremely rigid in the vertical plane. We recommend 50 break-in hours of DJ use for optimal performance, but if this is not possible, we recommend try leaving the cartridge sitting on a stationary record at maximum tracking force during times the turntable is not in use.
Now the S-120 is fairly unique and they may be pandering to a superstitious target market. We don't know as no actual measurements have been posted.
The title for the section where that text resides says "Cartridge break-in". I didn't think I had to point that out.

Ed

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by EdAInWestOC » 10 Aug 2018 13:49

Or how about from Shure? Where this is written:

Chapter 1
Accelerating Break-In (M44-7)

Normal break-in time takes about two weeks. The bearing, a critical part of the stylus suspension system, is stiff from the factory. Skip resistance improves with use.
You can speed up the break in period by leaving the cartridge in the record groove, with the turntable turned off, for two hours each night letting nature (gravity) do its thing.

http://www.shure.com/americas/support/f ... s-break-in

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by EdAInWestOC » 10 Aug 2018 13:51

Or how about from Clearaudio? They make a LP for breaking in their (and other) cartridges:

https://www.needledoctor.com/Clearaudio ... -in-Record

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by EdAInWestOC » 10 Aug 2018 14:05

And here is something from the AMG Teatro where there is section in their owner's manual covering break-in:

http://www.musicalsurroundings.com/wp-c ... anual1.pdf

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by Alec124c41 » 10 Aug 2018 14:32

Some cartridges can sound fine right out of the box, and some require some running-in, to loosen up the suspension. I have heard both.
A DL-304 sounded like a '60s transistor radio on first play. Much better a week later.
One of my favorite cartridges needs a side of a record to warm up for a listening session, if it hasn't been in use for a few days.

Cheers,
Alec

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Re: Cartridge breakin: What's going on?

Post by cats squirrel » 10 Aug 2018 14:40

'warm up' isn't that silly. Most cart manufacturers quote parameters at 23C, and it is reasonable to expect a cart to sound a little different at different temperatures, if only to warm the compliant suspension.

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