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Thor Audio Phono-Burn

+ Noises = + Music

[Italian version]

Product: Thor Audio Phono Burn: burning-in device
Manufacturer: Thor Audio - USA
Approx. price: 350 $ - 350 Euro

[Thor Audio Phono Burn]
The "burning" pair from Thor Audio

Y'all know the basic theory: HiFi audio components need break-in, exactly like cars, trousers and bike saddles (ever tried an UK-made Brooks leather bike saddle? You should :-)).
Even better, audio components need periodical break-in/burn-in, since Music isn't always sufficient to eliminate parasite capacitances, residual magnetisms and the like.
Hence many Audio Companies have started making "burning-in CDs" that, played into your HiFi system, should help keeping it always in excellent working conditions.
I won't dive deeply into details here about the scientific reasons why this procedure should work, since it works this is enough for me.
I'm not going to write scientific papers about this issue, I'm already busy enough writing them for my day-work :-)
These CD's have one major drawback: the CD player output can't be connected directly to a phono stage (very different voltages!!!) so the burning-in procedure is OK for the whole system BUT the phono preamp stages.
Enter the brilliant idea by Thor Audio: a quasi-standard burning-in CD coupled to a RIAA inverter. What's that? Tell me more, please!

How does the trick work

Easy as 1-2-3: put the CD into your CD player, connect the CD player output to the input of the Thor Audio Phono Burn and then this one into the phono input of your preamp (or amp). Set the volume at a moderate level, otherwise your speakers could be damaged. That's all.
The Phono Burn is a passive device that drops down the voltage of the CD player output (by 50-70 dB) mimicking the output of a phono cartridge as well (inverted RIAA eq.). This way even your phono stage can benefit from the burning-in process, together with the rest of the HiFi chain, 'speakers included.
In other words, the Phono Burn lets you hook up your CD player into the phono inputs.
For the first time, you need to play the CD for 4 hours, then for 2 hours every couple of months.
The CD contains two tracks: one for MM inputs and one for MC inputs: play accordingly and remember to set up the correct load (47 kOhm default, 1 kOhm available) INSIDE the Phono Burn device as clearly explained on the fool-proof user manual.

Does the trick really work?

Yes. Period. The nasty noises recorded into the Phono Burn CD DO something to HiFi components. First of all there is a noticeable improvement of the overall mid-high range clarity: it sounds like a bit of distortion has disappeared.
The same effect can be obtained even on the CD player that plays the Phono Burn disc. With a cheap Technics CD player a friend of mine gave me in order to try to make it sound better (some tweaks were applied, as usual) I played the Burn CD several times, with the whole system disconnected so that the positive effects couldn't be due to some other component simultaneous burn-in.
After the burn-in procedure the CD player had lost a trace a roughness and harshness that was particularly annoying. So I've decided to hook up the Phono Burn to "burn in" the whole system. The effect has been mostly the same: improved midrange clarity, sweeter and more refined highs, less distortion. The effect on the bass range was less evident, probably the components I am using are already "cleaned" and "burnt-in" with respect to this particular frequency range (hey, don't forget I regularly use some killer record with pure tones at 30 Hz...).
So, not only the CD itself works, but also the whole device is a very useful tool for anyone willing to have his HiFi system always in perfect "playing" conditions.
Let me add that phono stages seem to get a large benefit from this procedure.

Some advice

Do not play Music through the Phono Burn. Though technically possible, the result won't be much "audiophile". Passing your CD signal through your phono inputs won't make your CD player sound like a good analogue turntable, believe me. You need REAL vynil, dude :-)
Do not play too loud or listen extensively while playing this disc: it contains very high frequencies that can annoy your hearing system. After few minutes of listening I couldn't help but escape from home. It can annoy dogs, as well. And neighbourhoods :-)


Nothing to complain here, these "test" CDs don't come cheap, and the finish quality of the small box is pretty high (as usual on Thor Audio components, see our review of their reference tube preamp TA 1000). The user manual is complete, clear and exhaustive.


Definitely a must. Any serious audiophile worth his weight in vynil should seriously think to test this clever yet simple device. Not only it will break-in your entire HiFi set-up but it will make your phono stage sound like it was new. Or better. Month after month.

A warm thank you to Paul Marks of Thor Audio USA for having sent us this delicious toy to test.

© Copyright 1999 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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