Can Charge and EM Energy Change Metal Structure

  1. Hello Everyone,

    This is my first post.

    Background: I am an audio guy and seek to understand how cables contribute to the sound of my stereo.

    Issue: Do audio cables such as power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables "break in" as they are used? Typically, with high-end cables, users experience a break-in period where the sound is not optimal. Then, after a certain amount of hours--let's say 100-200, for example--the sound improves. In any case, this is a debatable topic, but for the purpose of this post, let's assume that they do break-in.

    Question: I would like to ask if the flow of charge and energy through wire such as cooper or silver can change the structure of the metal in any way?

    Closing: I do have a chemistry background, but I am quite weak with EE matters. Actually, my EE friend attributes the break-in to the insulator, not the wire. I believe him, but as I naively thought the metal might somehow change, I would like to ask the above question.

    thank you,
  2. jcsd
  3. davenn

    davenn 4,108
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    hi Ron
    welcome to PF

    seriously, it sounds like you have been getting too swayed by the audiophile fringe element :wink:

    there's a whole bunch of characters out there with some incredibly wild and unfounded claims to cables and connectors etc.

    as far as I'm aware pretty much none of the claims have withstood the scrutiny of lab tests under controlled conditions.
    Their claims are all very personally subjective

  4. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 15,311
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Welcome to PF;
    Electrical components do change with time, but mostly to make them worse rather than better. It's just entropy at work.

    The reported break-in effect is psychological.
    ... seems to have a fair discussion. Includes the "insulator" argument.
    Not sure about the conspiracy theory argument - but certainly some salesfolks like to repeat the myth.

    Anyone wants to confirm the "myth" will need to provide peer-reviewed references in support.
    At least a reference to randomized double-blind tests, from a reliable source.
    AFAIK: no such tests have confirmed the myth.

    You can do the test yourself - find someone who reports a break-in period and see if they can tell between new and used cables. First make sure they can tell when they know it's the new one.

    The flow of energy through a metal can change it, depending on the amount of flow. i.e. it can warm up. Some material properties depend on temperature etc. But that's not what you are talking about. The short answer is "no" - over the reported break-in period, there are no detectable changes in the metal of the wire during normal use, and the insulating dielectric does not become attuned, oriented, or polarized, to the wire.

    The biggest influence on the sound quality from new wires is the psychology of the listener.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  5. Thank you so much Dave and Simon for your really fast reply. I deeply appreciate you help. :thumbs:

    Cheers from Bangkok, Thailand,
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