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  • wkwai
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Different HeadSets for Listening Tests
I recently bought a "high end" stereo headsets for my listening tests. Before this, I was using a "cheap" pair of earphone.. Initially I was surprised that my "cheap" pair of earphone "outperformed" the brand new stereo headsets. I was able to hear more details on the old headphone than on the new stereo headsets.  Then after using the new stereo headsets for sometime, my ears seemed to gradually be able to pick out a lot of details which I couldn't hear earlier..

I seemed to need to "retrain" my ears on the new "high end" stereo headsets. Why is there such a effect? Is this some kind of psychological effect?

  • tigre
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Different HeadSets for Listening Tests
Reply #1
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I seemed to need to "retrain" my ears on the new "high end" stereo headsets. Why is there such a effect? Is this some kind of psychological effect?

Probably.

Maybe it's some burn-in effect too. (Some people play noise for hours with new headphones/speakers because they belive that improves something. With a search for "+headphones +burn" you'll find something about this.)
Let's suppose that rain washes out a picnic. Who is feeling negative? The rain? Or YOU? What's causing the negative feeling? The rain or your reaction? - Anthony De Mello

  • lexor
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Different HeadSets for Listening Tests
Reply #2
well according to Hi-Fi Plus Magazine burn in doesn't happen, as there is no change in physical properties of materials which influence sound. Same components with the same physical properties cannot produce different sound over time.

probably just you adjusting to new ones  I had that too.
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  • earwax
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Different HeadSets for Listening Tests
Reply #3
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well according to Hi-Fi Plus Magazine burn in doesn't happen, as there is no change in physical properties of materials which influence sound. Same components with the same physical properties cannot produce different sound over time.

I really have to wonder about that.  Let's say I buy a pair of new shoes, the first day they feel stiff, then during the first week they gradually become more flexible and more comfortable.  Can't the same thing happen with speaker drivers?  Since the driver is vibrating to produce sound,  it seems like a new driver could be stiffer than one that's been used a while. 

I bring this up because I think I have heard a burn-in effect with 2 different sets of new headphones, they sounded bad when I first tried them, one pair seemed to improve after just an hour of use, the other in a few days time.

  • blessingx
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Different HeadSets for Listening Tests
Reply #4
I'm a believer in burn-in and have done both listening along during the process (so likely adjusting to them) and not (so less likely). If I've heard a burnt in pair of headphones in the store, brought them home and put them on for a few minutes and heard the difference (sometimes it's not so subtle - highs in the lower Grados being an example), let them play over night (try again for a song or two), then play through to ~40 hours (and try again), it seems the differences are likely less only perceived (I've spent much more total time listening to them in the store at this point), especially if tests are right after listening with another pair of reference phones. Just my two cents.

Also how do we know properties of components don't change? The includes the obvious diaphragm, to the glue (or other attachment) of it, to the properties of wire/cabling and power over time, etc.

Though I'm sure psychology plays a part in this all.

  • gutzalpus
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Different HeadSets for Listening Tests
Reply #5
The real way to test this would be to buy two of the same type of headphone.  Burn in one, don't use the other at all.  Then listen to both and see if there's a difference.  Even better would be to figure out a way to evaluate them without knowing which was which until the test was done.