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Burn In and Jenga Blocks


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OK, that's two topics.

I'm trying really hard to retire from posting on the internet, so I'm cleaning out my metaphorical sock drawer.

First, here are some recordings that I've found very useful for helping to burn in audio gear.  They have a high peak to average ratio, lots of transients, and aren't terribly annoying to listen to.  The latter is a matter of taste, of course.  Running them for hours on end can be kind of therapeutic for the listener, too.

https://www.soundjay.com/river-sounds-1.html

Second, different people have different solutions for supporting their cables above a carpeted floor.  These are really cheap.  So cheap, that it's silly not to try them to see if you like their effect. Or, if you even perceive any effect.  If you want something better, you probably can find lots of people who will take your money.  If these do nothing for you, it's easy enough to give them away to somebody who'd want them for their original purpose.  Or, maybe, you might find that they're good enough for your audio system.  As I said, they're cheap.  Other stores have them as well.

https://www.amazon.com/CoolToys-Timber-Tower-Block-Stacking/dp/B01M3SRTCE

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Full disclosure: Jenga blocks were my late friend Charley Hansen's idea.  I should've mentioned this is my original posting, but plain forgot.  This seems to have gotten lost over time and I wanted the information to be shared.  

The price is too good to ignore.  I can imagine why somebody might say, "I'm not going to spend several hundred dollars to try an idea that seems kind of crazy."  But, if anybody won't spend $15 to try something with the potential to improve their audio system, there's not much I say about that.

P.S.  Professional athletes retire by age 40 in most cases.  I'm not nearly as special or talented as any of those guys, so my shelf life is far less and I'm far beyond my expiration date.

Edited by BKDad
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This Jenga suggestion reminded me of a funny accidental discovery that I had made several years ago. We were celebrating my son's 5th birthday and my friend had volunteered to help out with 'crowd control'. He blew up a ton of balloons to support all the games and activities that he had conjured up. However, in an attempt to control the helium balloons and keep the kids at bay, he had a brain fart and started tying the balloons up to my heavy duty speaker cables. Turns out after tying a few sets of balloons the cables were automatically floating in the air. I used to be a skeptic about these things but I am confident  I noticed a difference in sound since I observed older folks tapping their feet to songs from Thomas the Tank Engine and the Wiggles.

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A few months ago Roger Skoff talked about lifting cables up off the floor in his Positive Feedback online column.  

https://positive-feedback.com/audio-discourse/bunking-cable-lifters/

He referred to a YouTube video where somebody tried measuring the capacitance of a cable while it was lying on the carpet versus when it was suspended above.  The claim was that there was a measurable difference.

Well, just yesterday, I tried the very same experiment.  

I used a raw cable like I use in most of my power cables.  Just about 10 feet long.  I measured the capacitance as 751.3 pF.  I'm sure that's only within a percent or so, because that's about how accurate my LCR meter is, at least compared to the calibrated LCR meters in the lab at work.  Close enough for me.

Then, I rested the cable on a bunch of Jenga blocks about a foot or so apart.  751.3 pF.  So, I can't confirm whatever that guy on YouTube measured, at least with my cable.  (Maybe that's why it's a good power cable approach - less affected by external materials.  Not sure.)

But, I still think that keeping the cables off the floor is a good idea.  There is certainly an external field associated with any cable passing current.  Carpet material probably isn't an ideal dielectric to pass your audio signals through.  I suspect that if it was, somebody somewhere would be selling cables using carpet as the insulation.  

There's also the question of how vibration affects things.  I haven't figured out how to measure that one yet, although it's probably possible to do something with a laser level by looking at the speckle pattern of the laser spot on the cable itself while playing music.  But, then, you'd need to correlate the cable vibration with the sound.  Too much like work.

Overall, since I'm not in the cable business or the anything audio business, I just try what seems reasonable to try.  If it works, great.  If it doesn't, oh well.  No need to justify anything to anybody else, except my wife.  If somebody else can get some value out of what I find, I'll share it.  If not, that's ok, too.

Were you playing the Wiggles tracks in high resolution digital?  45 rpm vinyl? That could explain things.

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AQ says to ge the cable 6" off the ground.  I have their cable lifters and I like them as it's been easier to keep teh cables and cords look better in my own set up.  Do I hear a difference?  I haven' bothered to spend the time to really listen.  I THINK there may be a bit less 'noise'.  I have heard that demo at a store and it's why I decided to get a box for the system.  They use fishing line to suspend them. Again, another easy thing to make if you want to.

I have a bunch of the Ayre/Cardas myrtle wood blocks that I use under my DAC.  It made a difference on the AX5/20 when I owned it.  Kind of cleaned things up a bit.  I didn't like what any of the suspension feet did for the Ayre units (I also use the blocks on the QX5/20 when I owned it.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

 

On 6/11/2021 at 2:20 AM, stratocaster said:

This Jenga suggestion reminded me of a funny accidental discovery that I had made several years ago. We were celebrating my son's 5th birthday and my friend had volunteered to help out with 'crowd control'. He blew up a ton of balloons to support all the games and activities that he had conjured up. However, in an attempt to control the helium balloons and keep the kids at bay, he had a brain fart and started tying the balloons up to my heavy duty speaker cables. Turns out after tying a few sets of balloons the cables were automatically floating in the air. I used to be a skeptic about these things but I am confident  I noticed a difference in sound since I observed older folks tapping their feet to songs from Thomas the Tank Engine and the Wiggles.

Thank you sir.

I never know exactly what was meant by the term “Air” before, but I can visualise it now 😉

 

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  • 6 months later...

For those of you with a scientific bent, there's an article on ResearchGate explaining why recordings of running water may be a good burn-in tool.

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-soundwave-of-the-recording-of-running-water-is-characterized-by-rare-high-amplitude_fig3_51170092

Lots of free recordings available online for non-commercial use.

 
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Very cool. Thanks for sharing. Rereading in the blocks. ….  It’s a no brainer to try. I spent 60 or so I think for the AQ fog lifters, after cutting some wood lifters in the shop. I may turn a set on the lathe for fun. It’s made a big difference in that it lowers the noise a touch. I really hear it best on quiet passages. Forget the song, but it a Joe Bonamassa cut where it’s dead quiet and he’s playing really really really softly to draw the audience in.  Plenty of guitar recordings like that. Like a static charge is taken away. Not an engineer as you all know, but Tonka Tous could be really fun too lol. AQ claims the fishing string is best to suspend them. It works so that’s all I care about lol. Also contact cleaner on connections can help too (a bit off target, but cheap). Thanks thanks BK  

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  • 2 weeks later...

It seems that every person interested in audio has an opinion on this subject.  Usually, whichever side it is, it's extreme.  So, I wouldn't bother looking in (most) audio forums or online review/review-debunking sites for much in the way of insight.  All you'll get is hyperbole.

But, since hardwood floors are made of, ahh, wood and wood has been used for electrical applications for quite some time, scientists and engineers have researched the effects of wood on electrical and magnetic fields.  That's what we care about, since these fields are what surround the cables we use in our audio systems.  (There's about 52,500,000 pages about electric and magnetic fields with regard to cables on the internet according to Google.  There's also about 1,440,000 pages on the dielectric properties of concrete.  Lots about the properties of the materials used to make carpet, too.)

Here's a couple links to papers specifically discussing the subject of dielectric absorption with regard to wood:

https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:714343/FULLTEXT01.pdf

https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fplrp245.pdf

https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/j150309a014

My own attitude is that a set of Jenga blocks sells for about $15.  There's enough in that package to do pretty much an entire audio system and then some.  Why not try them for yourself?  The very worst case is that you don't like them and have wasted an hour or two of your time.  Then, you could either use them to play the game they're intended for or you could give them away to somebody who will use them.

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Or get Lincoln logs or similar toys… and when one is done, then donate them to a young person or a kindergarten (kindy)?

 

Or one should be able to measure something like capacitance and inductance of the cable both on the floor and elevated.
How hard would that be to do?

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3 minutes ago, Holmz said:

Or get Lincoln logs or similar toys… and when one is done, then donate them to a young person or a kindergarten (kindy)?

 

Or one should be able to measure something like capacitance and inductance of the cable both on the floor and elevated.
How hard would that be to do?

Jenga blocks are toys and are usually available at toy stores.  They're not special, but are uniformly made and pretty inexpensive.

I've measured capacitance and inductance of cables both on the floor and elevated.  I actually read an article in an online audio magazine that said that the capacitance change could easily be measured.  So, I tried that.  The cable capacitance didn't change even 1 pF between being on the floor and being suspended about a meter above the floor.  ( So much for audio lore...)

What you need to measure is dielectric absorption.  You know - the thing Mr. Vandersteen refers to with regard to capacitors and how they sound in an audio system.  I didn't even make an effort to measure that.

Anyway, why bother with all that?  It's so easy to try a solution like Jenga blocks, why even devote time to argue about it?  Writing this post has taken longer than trying Jenga blocks did.  If they don't work for you, then they don't.  It's reversible.  After all, what you should care about is the sound, right?  Unless you're a researcher, I suppose.  Or your (generic your - not YOUR) mind is already made up.

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3 hours ago, Holmz said:

Is the consensus a single solid conductor over multi strand cable?

I suggest that you try an internet search using the terms "passive intermodulation."  

This is hardly a new phenomenon, but it has often gotten dismissed or glossed over.  More recently, it's been a clear problem for wireless and cellular radio networks so it's getting taken more seriously.  Yeah, those systems operate at higher frequencies than audio, so of course the skin depth at those frequencies is proportionately less than at audio.  But, follow the reasoning.

This paper is pretty accessible.  What's interesting and kind of surprising is that the author discusses a lot of the very same issues that audio guys have tossed about for years.  Except, he's talking about RF applications.

https://www.mouser.do/pdfdocs/AmphenolConnex_passive_intermodulation_distortion_in_connectors.pdf

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4 minutes ago, GdnrBob said:

 

Isn't cotton capable of harnessing a charge?

Yeah Bob, but the dielectric constant is low.
I would probably put the whole enchilada into a sheath.

I dunno - the lamp cord was supposed to be a temporary  deal, but the large Mogami cable (3103 or 3104 <I think>) did not show up… only RCAs, XLRs, and 164’ of their microphone cable.
Even worse was that I only had 6 Bananas so the LHS speaker got 4 and the RHS got 2.
The local shop texted to say that my 2 banana’s came in… To figure out where they might go, I looked at the speakers.
(The cabling  was a pretty woeful sight, in and of itself… but the termination was even worse.)

Has anyone tried solid single core silver?
I saw some wrapped in cotton in 12, 14 or 16 ga.

Johnny suggested solid core over multi stranded, but I forget which brand.

 

9 minutes ago, BKDad said:

 

Thanks @BKDad I’ll down load it read it on the plane.

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9 minutes ago, Holmz said:

Has anyone tried solid single core silver?

Yeah.  I have some interconnects made from smaller silver solid wire.  VH Audio makes some great stuff.  Being fretful of cotton absorbing moisture, I went with Chris' "AirLok" foamed dielectric insulation.  

They sound great.  But, obviously, pure silver wire can get pretty costly.

The late Bob Crump swore by solid silver wiring.  He was a colorful character, but no dummy.

No, I didn't run exhaustive double blind testing to prove to myself that I liked how they sound.  (That's in case somebody ever asks.)

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