August 1, 2009

Snake BBQ, Anyone?

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

The Audiodharma Cable Cooker got to me last Friday.

The first thing I used them to cook were the 2 Shunyata Taipan Helix Alphas power cords on my Pass Labs monoblocks. These 2 power cords were quite new, with around 60-70 hours on them since their acquisition 1.5 months ago. Straight out of the box, their sound was quite congested, and the bass was especially bad - lumpy, bloated and woolly. Over time, the mid and high opened up relatively quickly and stabilized, but the bass region was still behaving as described, albeit with some improvement in snail pace. These bass traits were also similarly identified by a recent visitor to my place (hi, Henry!). I could not leave the amps on for long periods to burn-in the power cords as they were full class A - my electricity bill would go through the roof.

So these 2 powersnakes were the first ones to go onto the grill. Since this was my first trial, I was eager to hear the result. The snakes were cooked for 10 hours - that was no magic number, it was just the time it took me to get a good night sleep, wake up, have breakfast and laze around a bit (it was a Saturday morning anyway). Then the 2 Taipans were hooked back up to the monoblocks.

My impression was that this 'cooking's' effect was not unlike 'de-magnetizing' the system (as observed also by someone who commented on maggielurva's earlier post), but with much more pronounced and far ranging result. My own experience with de-magnetizing was that it affected the high frequency the most - if my system sounded like it had a bad hair day - frizzy, brittle, splashy - I knew it was time to give it a good spin of the de-magnetizing cd. The cooked powercords had similar effect but the effect extended further down into the mid and bass. The entire sound spectrum became more poised, more assured, I could listen at higher volume without ear-poking effect. Some grit, not just in the high but down to the mid, was diminished. The bass improved, the bloat and lumpiness were reduced quite a bit - just like what I heard over the course of running the Taipans in via normal use. Just that the current effect was, of course, accelerated. So it seems the cable cooker was really working as advertised.

The highs shelved down a little making the system sound a little dull, this may be a sign of overcooking for the highs, it largely recovered after a few hours' of system on.

I would describe the overall effect thus - you took the same road home everyday, you were used to the road's condition, you almost knew all the little bumps and potholes by heart, and suddenly one day our MBPJ, in its infinite wisdom, decided to clean up and resurface/re-tar the road, and your experience and comfort level were transformed.

Since the bass performance from the Taipans still had some way to go, I wanted to burn them in further on the cooker. But not before I turned my attention to 2 more others.

Another Taipan Helix Alpha came off my CD player and a Python Helix Alpha came off my pre-amp. This Taipan was in my system the longest so it has been fully broken-in. The Python was acquired at the same time as the other Taipans, but since the pre-amp was always on, it should have been burned-in more if not fully so. Since some readers here mentioned that the cooker would work on fully burned-in cables too, I wanted to give it a try.

Another 10 hours on the cooker. Now, what can I say, all the experience from the first round of cooking was repeated and the effect was cumulative. Furthermore, the image delineation and the system transparency improved too. Some recordings that I dismissed as bad previously turned out to be good enough because of the improved delineation. I could listen into the recordings and knew what was going on, instead of the previous congealed image which sounded like a mess.

Now, I wasn't just driving on an improved road, I have also upgraded to a 3 litre V6.

The first 2 Taipans went back on the cooker last night, I decided to give them a good 24 hours' grilling, minimum, just to be sure that they'd be cooked thoroughly. Honestly, having to wrestle with all these cables in my system's tight space is not really fun. If I have to do this periodically like de-magnetizing my system, I probably can accept this once a year. :-)

And then there are still the interconnects and speaker cables to try out.

I do not know what is conjured up in this little box that also emits a funny faint cyclical buzz in operation. However, the cable cooker just works great in accelerating the burn-in process. It worked on well-used cables too. I won't say that it can turn a sow's ear of a cable into a silk purse, but it would let your cables perform at their true capability at the least.

Signing off now, I have to go taste my grilled snakes.

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