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  • MagR
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Help with headphone break in
Hi

I’m a fairly new member and have been getting some good advice on this forum. My first headphones I bought a few weeks ago were the Sennheiser HD650. At first I didn’t like them too much. They sounded a bit out of tune – especially on piano. Good pianists seemed to be hitting a lot of wrong notes! I thought it might be jitter as I remember from my vinyl days many years ago that wow and flutter (called jitter with digital sources I think) were most noticeable on piano. However the jitter specs on the dac I’m using were fine.

Anyway after a few weeks this “tunelessness” seems to have disappeared and the HD650’s seem to have more bass and generally sound great. I’m now thinking this might be due to running in or breaking in whatever the correct term is. I thought this was an audiophile myth at first but perhaps there is some truth in it. Has anybody else experienced this with the HD650? Is it just the driver loosening up or might it have something to do with the earcups fitting my head better now?

I’ve now ordered a pair of AKG K701’s which should arrive in a few days and will probably buy the Beyerdynamic DT880’s as well to experience different sound signatures. Will I experience this breaking in with these headphones and for how long or does that vary unit to unit? I looked on another forum and the answers varied widely. Has anyone here got some actual experience with these phones? Again, looking at other forums there seems to be a general belief that the AKG K701’s sound takes a very long time to break in and will be considerably smoother as a result.

Thanks in advance

Mag

  • saratoga
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #1
I’m a fairly new member and have been getting some good advice on this forum. My first headphones I bought a few weeks ago were the Sennheiser HD650. At first I didn’t like them too much. They sounded a bit out of tune – especially on piano. Good pianists seemed to be hitting a lot of wrong notes!


A headphone is a transducer, it can't change the tuning of the actual notes played, so whatever you're hearing its probably not the headphones.


  • pdq
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #2
If you have been told ahead of time that headphones require a break-in time, then that is quite possibly what you will experience yourself, regardless of whether or not it is actually true. 

  • MagR
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #3
I’m a fairly new member and have been getting some good advice on this forum. My first headphones I bought a few weeks ago were the Sennheiser HD650. At first I didn’t like them too much. They sounded a bit out of tune – especially on piano. Good pianists seemed to be hitting a lot of wrong notes!


A headphone is a transducer, it can't change the tuning of the actual notes played, so whatever you're hearing its probably not the headphones.

Thanks for that.

I wonder if I had some setting wrong somewhere which I've now inadvertently corrected as it was quite noticeable before.

Thanks again

Mag

  • MagR
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #4
If you have been told ahead of time that headphones require a break-in time, then that is quite possibly what you will experience yourself, regardless of whether or not it is actually true. 


Thanks for your reply.

In your opinion does break in not actually exist? Is this the McGurk effect or something similar where we hear what we expect to hear?

Thanks again

Mag

P.s. I was definitely experiencing something as I've replied to the poster above. As I'm new I conclude I had something plugged in/set up wrong before.

Help with headphone break in
Reply #5
Hi

I’m a fairly new member and have been getting some good advice on this forum. My first headphones I bought a few weeks ago were the Sennheiser HD650. At first I didn’t like them too much. They sounded a bit out of tune – especially on piano. Good pianists seemed to be hitting a lot of wrong notes! I thought it might be jitter as I remember from my vinyl days many years ago that wow and flutter (called jitter with digital sources I think) were most noticeable on piano. However the jitter specs on the dac I’m using were fine.


Please read TOS 8.  You agreed to it in order to sign up here. Please put it into practice!

  • dhromed
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #6
There's no such thing as break-in as far as I know. There is such a thing as broken, though.

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I was definitely experiencing something


While it's probable that you may have accidentally set and unset a setting, placebo is one of the things that can make you experience things regardless of the properties of the hardware.

Most placebo, as I experience it, comes from knowing beforehand that some element of the audio chain "should" be better, therefore my brain automatically pays more attention, and behold, I suddenly hear more, and incorrectly attribute this to the element.

Help with headphone break in
Reply #7
The guy Tyll from innerfidelity measured the effect of "break in".
From what I've understood of his article,  the changes are too small, and  he didn't want to conclude anything .
What I see,  there are less changes in the frequency response with time, than there are differences between left & right.
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/measu...headphone-break
  • Last Edit: 18 April, 2013, 08:22:18 AM by extrabigmehdi

  • db1989
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #8
I agree with the general sentiment, Arny. But to be fair, even if the effects were imagined – which would be my guess – apparently they have now disappeared, which would seem to preclude testing.

Of course, the rule still stands against confident claims about quality and its agents in the present tense. To that end, I agree with pdq that what you experienced was most probably a result of placebo/expectation bias. Certainly the oft-invoked Djinn of Djitter isn’t likely to have been involved in any capacity. It’s strange that the phenomenon seems to have stopped at some time – I presume without you having read/heard anything that could push your expectation bias in the opposite direction  – but, as above, it’s difficult to evaluate the claims without (A) a time machine or (B) a high risk of unproductive speculation that would violate TOS #8.

None of this means the thread has to stop: discussion of mechanisms that may plausibly have caused this is fine, although I suspect such things are scarce!

  • Rollin
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #9
Another experience of headphones' "breaking in" http://translate.google.ru/translate?hl=ru...kki05aging.html

  • Nessuno
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #10
Here there is a blogger who claims to have measured and ABXed some subtle differences on an HD650 before and after a 100hrs break-in.
He also gives two recordings, pre and post break-in for others to test, anyway maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see any log of his own trials.

I'm in no way linked to this blog neither I endorse his conclusions, it's only something I just remembered to have read.
... I live by long distance.

  • pdq
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #11
I'm curious how you would ABX the same device 100 hours apart. Perhaps a time machine that sends you to either of two times, but you don't know which?

Edit: I am not opposed to the concept of a break-in period for headphones or speakers. How the characteristics of elastomers etc. change with vibration is certainly something to consider.
  • Last Edit: 18 April, 2013, 10:47:10 AM by pdq

  • DonP
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #12
I'm curious how you would ABX the same device 100 hours apart. Perhaps a time machine that sends you to either of two times, but you don't know which?


Buy 2 pairs?

I can believe that the ear pads could compress a bit in the first hundred hours of use, maybe putting the phones closer to your ears.
Another oft mentioned effect is that it's your ears that break in and get used to the new <whatever>.

Neither of those would happen if you are just playing music through  phones sitting on a table.

  • Nessuno
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #13
I'm curious how you would ABX the same device 100 hours apart. Perhaps a time machine that sends you to either of two times, but you don't know which?

If I read correctly, he says he left the headphone untouched on a dummy head during the break-in, to make the measures pre and post and record the samples and then ABXed the recordings. Of course in this case we weren't there to assess those conditions, but the method seems sounding to me.
  • Last Edit: 18 April, 2013, 11:04:10 AM by Nessuno
... I live by long distance.

  • mzil
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #14
^"inserted in EURI's ear canals , its physical placement must remain untouched for the next 100 hours in order to prevent any placement-related deviations. Each 10 times averaged pre break-in & post break-in measurement data are to be compared, and should any type of change occur, they are to be reproduced back utilizing a binaural recording technique to be ABX-compared."

I can't think of a reason why his method isn't sound either, however I assume the two audio samples he has provided are individual recordings and have nothing to do with any "10 times averaged" technique he, I presume, uses for his plots.

  • Mach-X
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #15
@db1989 not to speak for Arny, bought I *think* he was implying not to speak of jitter until you can prove it exists  :-D

  • saratoga
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #16
Thats a neat test, and I think probably quite valid.

However the effect is quite small.  I suspect you'd see similar results just turning the room's thermostat up and down

  • greynol
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #17
In your opinion does break in not actually exist?

No more so than anything else being parroted to be true and seemingly solely based on the propagation of anecdotes.

Quote
Is this the McGurk effect or something similar where we hear what we expect to hear?

Most likely, yes.
13 February 2016: The world was blessed with the passing of a truly vile and wretched person.

Your eyes cannot hear.

  • DVDdoug
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #18
IMO burn-in/break-in is total nonsense!    And if it's true (or to the extent it's true), it's a very bad thing!

1.  Why isn't it done at the factory?  Where I work (non-audio electronics) we burn-in everything at elevated temperature for one week.  This is NOT to improve specs/performance.    It's to weed-out early failures before the product gets out the door.  We are making electronics, not wine or cheese!  We test before burn-in, and if the board/unit fails, it does not go into burn-in.    We test after burn-in, and if all goes well (which it does at least 95% of the time) the unit passes post burn-in test, and it gets shipped. 

2. I've never heard of a reputable manufacturer recommending customer burn-in.  Some "snake oil" audiophile manufacturer's do.  But again, why don't they do it at the factory?

3. If the specs/performance change after burn-in (or several hours use) by the end user, the manufacturer's factory tests & specs mean nothing...    It's a poorly designed & built product by an incompetent manufacturer!  If the performance/specs are not stable, the manufacturer has no idea if  the customer is getting a great product or a crappy product.  There's always going to be some performance drift, aging, and some measurement variation.  But the drift should be insignificant, and most importantly the product shouldn't drift out of spec (at least for a year or more).

4.  Why is it that the product always seems to improve with burn-in?  Why doesn't it sometimes get worse?  (Most things deteriorate with time, use, and abuse.)    If it really does improve after a few hours, what happens to this unstable product after twice the burn-in time, or longer?  Does it continue to improve, or does it begin to deteriorate.  Do my $50 headphones sound like $500 headphones after several years, or do the drivers disintegrate and distort badly?
  • Last Edit: 18 April, 2013, 02:35:02 PM by DVDdoug

  • dhromed
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #19
We test after burn-in, and if all goes well  the unit passes post burn-in test, and it gets shipped.

Wait.. doesn't that mean you essentially ship pre-damaged equipment?

You light a match and say "this one works!" and put it back in the box.

  • greynol
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #20
I've never heard someone suggest burn-in was a bad thing before.

Doug nailed it.  Well done!
13 February 2016: The world was blessed with the passing of a truly vile and wretched person.

Your eyes cannot hear.

  • antz
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #21
4.  Why is it that the product always seems to improve with burn-in?  Why doesn't it sometimes get worse?  (Most things deteriorate with time, use, and abuse.)
Amazing coincidence isn't it? No-one's really going to admit their product gets worse are they, or that burn-in reduced the sound quality of their shiny new gear!

  • antz
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #22
We test after burn-in, and if all goes well  the unit passes post burn-in test, and it gets shipped.

Wait.. doesn't that mean you essentially ship pre-damaged equipment?

You light a match and say "this one works!" and put it back in the box.

No, what he's referring to is standard practice for equipment that must not fail (e.g. military). All components and the resulting assembly suffer from what's called infant-mortality, whereby new equipment can suffer early failure. Once past a certain threshhold, equipment that didn't fail is likely to be highly reliable for a long (and usually predictable) time. Critical equipment will be taken out of service before it's time-expired. This doesn't only apply to electronic gear, things like jet-engines are treated similarly.

It's a different idea from burn-in or break-in, which is usually claimed to improve equipment in some way. It makes sense for mechanical equipment, where components bedding-in to each other is a real and demonstrable effect. For electronic gear and especially transducers, it's dubious.
  • Last Edit: 18 April, 2013, 03:55:22 PM by antz

  • pdq
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Help with headphone break in
Reply #23

Help with headphone break in
Reply #24
Here there is a blogger who claims to have measured and ABXed some subtle differences on an HD650 before and after a 100hrs break-in.
He also gives two recordings, pre and post break-in for others to test, anyway maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see any log of his own trials.

I'm in no way linked to this blog neither I endorse his conclusions, it's only something I just remembered to have read.



The google translation of the conclusion of the first of his references (in Japanese), which he claims supports his thesis is:

"A result of the aging 200h the GS1000, Frequency characteristic for the (amplitude), I think to be no difference between the measurement error or more."

My interpretation of that there was no significant difference once typical variations were considered.

The cited paper and some other of its references don't seem to be as careful or thorough.
  • Last Edit: 18 April, 2013, 04:29:43 PM by Arnold B. Krueger