Speaker Break-in

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Daedalus Audio

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Speaker Break-in
« on: 7 Feb 2012, 10:21 pm »
I'm starting this thread for comments on (primarily) Daedalus speaker break in.
Someone who had purchased a used pair of Ebony Ulysses recently and then reposted them for sale because they didn't have the smooth natural sound he wanted found that they just needed more break-in. now he "likes them...a lot!" and he is keeping them.  they had a couple of months use before he bought them but still sounded a bit brittle. (btw that could have had a lot to do with shipping which sometimes really 'undoes' much of a speakers break in), I understand that he ran them for 150? hours at pretty high volume with a specific speaker break in CD.

people often ask about break in and I thought this would be a good time to post different experiences (and theories)



Re: Speaker Break-in
« Reply #1 on: 8 Feb 2012, 01:46 am »
Sounds like a very lucky guy to me! As Lou knows all to well, shipping can be an adventure and anybody that gets anything that has been shipped and not played for a while, needs to re-break it/them in again. I have heard dramatic changes through the breaking in process, although Lou's speakers aren't as fussy that way as many other pieces of equipment I have owned. The worst was a pair of Parasound JC-1's that took months to break in. It was comical, in fact.


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Re: Speaker Break-in
« Reply #2 on: 17 Feb 2012, 02:24 am »
I'm the Ulysses owner that Lou's original post was referring to. 

Here's my experience...

I had recently acquired some Ulysses demos from a dealer, thru an add on Audiogon.  I had put approx. 40 hours on the Ulysses under normal listening conditions, with typical fare of jazz, classical and indie/progressive rock.   The speakers sounded really uninvolving initially and I was worried I had made a big mistake purchasing the Ulysses without the benefit of an audition.  They did manage to open up quite a bit after the first 20 hours, but still not to the point that I felt I had a pair of "keepers" on my hands.  I was not a happy camper.  I missed the involving midrange and emotional connection I had with my previous Harbeth M-40.1's, and I regretted having sold them. 

A fellow audio acquaintance that I know from Audiogon that had pushed me to try the Ulysses insisted that something had to be wrong.  He insisted that the speakers probably needed to be properly broken in... something I had never done with my previous speakers. 

I followed the following break-in protocol:
- Place the speakers so the drivers of each speaker are facing each other at approximately .25" separation.
- Invert the polarity of one of the speakers by reversing the speaker cables on the speaker end only
- Change your preamp to run in mono configuration, or if your preamp does not have mono capability, buy a "Y" interconnect splitter from Radio Shack (about $5) to get a mono signal from your cdp
- Play the speakers loud enough to get the woofers visibly jumping around, but not so loud that they are bottoming out or clipping.
- Use track 20 on Stereophile's Test CD#3 and set your CDP to repeat the track over and over
- I covered the speakers with heavy blankets and surrounded them with acoustic panels (all sides and on top) to muffle the sound and maintain the sanity of others in your household.
- I did this for approx. 170 hours.  I would have gone another 100 hours, but my wife was fed up with the noise.

This process was a pain in the butt, but I now have beautiful sounding speakers and I no longer pine for my old Harbeth's.  I don't think all speakers necessarily need this kind of aggressive break-in process, but my experience with the Daedalus Ulysses makes me think Daedalus owners could benefit greatly from following an aggressive break in protocol similar to what I described above.  The improvement in my Ulysses after following this protocol has been dramatic.

Associated Gear:
Amp: VAC Renaissance 70/70 Signature
Preamp:  Aesthetix Calypso Signature
CDP: Audio Aero Capitol 24/192   


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Re: Speaker Break-in
« Reply #3 on: 18 Feb 2012, 05:18 pm »
Pdreher, thanks for sharing--very interesting story and approach to the break in process. I've broken in my DA-1.1's twice--once when new from "the factory" and once after Lou did the AP upgrade. My break in experience was not as dramatic nor did I go to such great lengths to break in the speakers in either instance. In my experience the break in process for the AP crossovers took longer and was slightly more dramatic than the with the straight DA-1.1's. Generally speaking, however, in both cases the speakers improved markedly over the first 100 hours and less significantly beyond that point. I do recall, when breaking in the AP crossovers, a point at around 50 or 75 hours where I could literally hear the sound quality improve significantly while I was listening. That was a pretty eye opening experience and convinced me of the importance of proper break in like nothing had before. While the speakers did not sound brittle or unlistenable when first connected they were pretty unremarkable. During the breaking in process I heard them become more refined and open, with a much more natural presentation. The three dimensional properties also improved significantly. It is interesting that you had gone from the M40.1's to the Ulysses as I followed a similar path from the Harbeth C-7ES to the DA-1.1's. I find the Daedalus speakers retain all the things I loved about my Harbeth's (natural tone, non-fatiguing, spacious) and add real world dynamics and the ability to project sound in a way that makes the music seem live. Glad to hear you persevered and are now happy with your Ulysses!


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Re: Speaker Break-in
« Reply #4 on: 18 Feb 2012, 06:19 pm »
One other thing I forgot to mention which may have made my experience different from Pdreher's is that Lou put some hours on my speaks before shipping them back to me after the AP upgrade. Not sure how many he logged but that could be why I heard somewhat less of a dramatic change during the break in process.


Re: Speaker Break-in
« Reply #5 on: 19 Feb 2012, 12:33 am »
The break-in procedure I used for my DA-1.1s, both before and after the AP crossover updgrade, was to put CDs in on repeat and play them about 14-16 hours per day. I used different CDs (all rock) to make sure I covered the full frequency spectrum. Since I live by myself, I could turn the volume up before I left the house in the morning. I also ran a break-in CD (Granite Audio) at the end of each day before I turned the system off and went to bed. I did this until I had about 200 hours on the speakers (about 2 weeks). The break-in time also included listening to vinyl when I was home.

While the speakers were never "unlistenable," after the second day, about 25 hours, I could hear that the top end had started to settle. After about 40 hours I began to hear a marked improvement in the speakers' preformance from top to bottom, but especially in the mid range. After about 100 hours, they really began to open up and I heard that "live in the room" sound--very natural with great dynamics--that is a trademark of Daedalus speakers. Non-fatiguing, terrific imaging and wide soundstage too. Performance continued to improve over the second 100 hours, but more subtle than the first 100 hours.