Cable Conditioning and the Cable Cooker

Although it is not yet fully understood scientifically, the phenomenon of “cable break-in” has been experienced by many audiophiles. Interconnects, speaker cables and even power cords seem to go through a conditioning period when used in an audio/video system, and will sound better after many hours of in-system use.

The sonic differences between wiring that is broken-in and wiring that is not, are very audible in high quality audio systems. The break-in process is believed to be due primarily to current flowing through the conductors of wiring components.

Dielectric stress caused by a voltage difference between the conductors is also believed to be of some benefit. The fact that it takes many hours of in-system use for wiring components to break in is primarily due to the low-level nature of audio/video signals from normal program material.

As an example, let us take an interconnect used to connect the output of a preamplifier to the input of a power amplifier. The typical maximum signal level for full power output of the average power amplifier is 2 volts peak. The average signal is much less.

The typical input impedance of a power amplifier will be 10k ohms at the (very) low end for consumer gear—47 to 100k ohms is typical for a solid state amplifier, while several hundred kohms is not unusual for a tube power amplifier. Taking the (unrealistic) best-case values from the above examples, the maximum current seen is 2 volts/10k ohms = 200 micro-amperes … and this would not be continuous current, as the voltage value is a peak value, not an rms value.

For the sake of demonstration and comparison we will describe a “use value” consisting of the current flowing through the wiring component according to the above equation, multiplied by the total time this current flows. We will refer to this use value as CTV, or “Current-Time-Value”.

Playing an interconnect cable in an audio system for one week (168 hours) of continuous use would expose it to the following use value:

168 hours x 0.0002 amperes = CTV of 0.0336

The Cable Cooker™ was designed to produce signal levels far in excess of those seen in normal audio/video system use.

The output signal includes a swept square wave calibrated from 0 Hz to over 40KHz (plus harmonics into the megahertz region). Output voltage is 12 volts rms. The current through the wiring component is determined by the load at the input connector of the Cable Cooker. In the case of interconnect cables, the measured current is 120 milli-amperes.

Installing an interconnect on the Cable Cooker for one week results in a CTV of:

168 hours x 0.12 Amperes = CTV of 20.16

This is a value 600 times greater than that obtained under the most ideal of audio system conditions. The “stress” on the dielectric of the interconnect is also much higher than in normal use due to the higher output voltage. It should be readily apparent why results with the Cable Cooker are often quite audible after as little as 24 hours of use.

The same powerful signal described above is also produced at the speaker cable output binding posts. The load at the speaker cable inputs, however, is designed to draw a continuous 1.88 amperes of current through the wire.

With a potential of 12 volts, this is equivalent to a continuous signal level in excess of 22 watts!! It must again be emphasized that this is a continuous condition (i.e., rms). This extreme continuous-signal level, produced in an audio system in a regular listening environment for any length of time, would force us from the room due to the highly uncomfortable and intensively-loud volume.

One can now correlate the impressive signal level produced by the Cable Cooker and the benefits derived by its use with the cabling in our audio/video systems.

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What our customers are saying...

"With a four day burn my customers all report that the sound is beautifully balanced..."

Mark Jenkins, Antipodes Audio

"I am happy to report that the cable cooker was just magical!!"

Dr. Afzal Khan

"I could not imagine adding a cable for evaluation that has not been Cooked. Feel free to quote me."

Rick Schultz, Virtual Dynamics