Skip to main content

Topic: Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin? (Read 10709 times) previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
  • TomasPin
  • [*][*][*]
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #25
Any new evidence for the existence of a pink elephant orbiting Uranus?

Don't tempt me into making really inappropiate jokes, please... 

I always took this whole "burn-in" thing as baloney. I've been happily using the same headphones for over 3 years now, never noticed a change in their sound. And these are cheap headphones: around 15-20 bucks in the USA, a bit more here because of shipping costs and taxes.

Of course, I'm open for evidence on the opposite. Until then, however...
  • Last Edit: 09 August, 2013, 04:41:07 PM by TomasPin
A man and his music: http://tubular.net/

  • mzil
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #26
Headphones and loudspeakers, electro-mechanical devices, differ substantively from electrical only devices in that there is physical motion involved, hence surfaces which theoretically wear from friction as they "de-burr" with repeated use, and compliant springs (such as the voice coil spider), which may change in elasticity (slightly) over time or from heavy use/wear-and-tear, (or perhaps sag?). My feelings on the matter are similar to Peter Aczel, founder of the pro science, audio mythology debunking magazine The Audio Critic, which after dismissing audio myth/lie #6, (the burn-in of electronics and cables) as being nothing more than pure B.S., then admits:

"Loudspeakers, however, may require a break-in period of a few hours, perhaps even a day or two, before reaching optimum performance. That’s because they are mechanical devices with moving parts under stress that need to settle in. (The same is true of reciprocating engines and firearms.) That doesn’t mean a good loudspeaker won’t “sound good” right out of the box, any more than a new car with 10 miles on it won’t be good to drive."  - The 10 Biggest Lies in Audio, Issue #26, Fall 2000, The Audio Critic

There would be many obstacles in attempting to test this properly, as I see it, and I don't know of anyone who has done it with any degree of scientific rigor.

P.S. Somewhat off-topic, but two things I'm confident do burn in, yet I'd be stumped to provide actual evidence-based science to support my beliefs, are plasma TV screens and the projection lamp (bulb) of projection TVs such as LCD and DLP. They are said to dim quickly and profoundly in the first 100 hrs of use (so you shouldn't bother to calibrate such TVs during this burn-in period), then plateau for several thousand hours of use (dimming very slowly over that long period), and then eventually blow, pop, much like our home light bulbs do.
  • Last Edit: 09 August, 2013, 05:36:16 PM by mzil

Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #27
I understood that. Any new evidence for the existence of a pink elephant orbiting Uranus?
I don't know, did any probes equipped with color cameras made it this far yet? Otherwise you wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a gray one. 

I always took this whole "burn-in" thing as baloney. I've been happily using the same headphones for over 3 years now, never noticed a change in their sound. And these are cheap headphones: around 15-20 bucks in the USA, a bit more here because of shipping costs and taxes.

Of course, I'm open for evidence on the opposite. Until then, however...
I pretty much share this opinion and was making sure there is no evidence stating otherwise. Since I happened to invoke greynol, it doesn't seem like it's the case.

My feelings on the matter are similar to Peter Aczel, founder of the pro science, audio mythology debunking magazine The Audio Critic, which after dismissing audio myth/lie #6, (the burn-in of electronics and cables) as being nothing more than pure B.S., then admits:

"Loudspeakers, however, may require a break-in period of a few hours, perhaps even a day or two, before reaching optimum performance. That’s because they are mechanical devices with moving parts under stress that need to settle in. (The same is true of reciprocating engines and firearms.) That doesn’t mean a good loudspeaker won’t “sound good” right out of the box, any more than a new car with 10 miles on it won’t be good to drive."  - The 10 Biggest Lies in Audio, Issue #26, Fall 2000, The Audio Critic

There would be many obstacles in attempting to test this properly, as I see it, and I don't know of anyone who has done it with any degree of scientific rigor.
The fact that the frequency response does change a bit was posted above, but the audibility of this change is not proven =/

edit: is HA being awfully slow for anyone else? other sites seem fine for me.
  • Last Edit: 09 August, 2013, 05:34:43 PM by ChronoSphere

  • db1989
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #28
edit: is HA being awfully slow for anyone else? other sites seem fine for me.
It is for me. I’m not aware of any reason, but I’m sure it’s known and will be sorted. If you really want to enquire about it or otherwise discuss it further, please do so in Site Related Discussion, not here.

  • mzil
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #29
There is a lot of controversy about headphone burn-in. Should it be a low level, random noise signal? Should it be dynamic in level? Is it better to use actual music? Is there any problem with playing the sound all in one, continuous, long run?

Luckily, the headphone manufacturers have at least agreed upon one thing: the formula for determining the bare minimum number of hours necessary to achieve the desired results, aka "The TDC Principle", namely

(N*24) + 1

where N= the number of days in the headphone's return policy.

For example, if headphone model X has a 10 day money back guarantee, then the absolute minimum amount of burn-in time necessary, played continuously in one shot, if the customer prefers,  to achieve optimal "burned-in" sound is 241 hours of play [(10*24) +1].

Bonus points for anyone who can define the acronym TDC. [Which, coincidentally, was once a brand of ultra high margin speakers on the market.]
  • Last Edit: 14 August, 2013, 12:33:56 AM by mzil

  • greynol
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #30
I hope we are not equating burn-in with break-in. Of course I am indeed guilty of doing this earlier.

Taking measures to ensure something isn't defective is hardly the same thing as exercising it so that it will sound better.
13 February 2016: The world was blessed with the passing of a truly vile and wretched person.

Your eyes cannot hear.

  • krabapple
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #31
From what I've seen, the most important thing is to determine that the unit-to-unit variance in performance doesn't exceed the new-vs-burned-in variance.


  • greynol
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Global Moderator
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #32
No doubt, they will all improve after break-in regardless of the variation whether it exists before or after burn-in.
13 February 2016: The world was blessed with the passing of a truly vile and wretched person.

Your eyes cannot hear.

  • Rescator
  • [*][*]
Has anybody ABX'd headphone/speaker burnin?
Reply #33
If I where to hazard a guess. A good manufacturer take sample now and again, and test them at various points after various amount of hours. So that on average their assembly line produce elements that stay within spec, which could include wear and tear or drift.

Also note that a 0.5mm variation on huge concert speakers after years of hard abuse may be within spec.
Whole 0.5mm variation on small headphones could cause them to not work (though I can't recall ever having a coil get "stuck in any headphones I've used).
I'm just saying that element size also factors in.

I know many of those that favor burn-in talk about loosening up the membrane.
And while I see the merit in that, I can't help to think that any headphones that need to be "loosened up" first is actually manufactured wrong.
If something factory fresh changes dramatically after the first say week of use, then the likelihood of it being way off kilter a year later is statistically high indeed.

Good headphones should be within spec when factory fresh, and if used correctly/treated well, they should remain within spec up til several years after the manufacturer warranty runs out.


One thing many may not think about when "burning in" is that oils from your skin and hair will soften up the pads on headphones. And as the pads changes their stiffness so might also the way they enclose your ears. Close earphones may have the sound change more than say open or half-open ones for example.
Circumaural pads when "worn in" may cause different characteristics than on-the-ear pads when worn in etc.

I'm currently modifying mine to provide huge circumaural pads that ensure that no part of my ear touches the elements. (I wear headphones 90% of the day when I'm at the computer)
And anything touching my ear and it's not only uncomfortable but even a slight bending of the tip of the ear could potentially alter the sound slightly.

I liked the guy that mentioned just testing the speaker elements and "burn in" effect (if any) on those instead of actual headphones. The technology is the same. And the results would have very little bias.

How a new pair of headphones "sit" on your head a week later, probably have much more impact on the sound than how the element behavior has changed (if at all) after a week.

I can with confidence say that I can not hear the difference of new headphones vs old (i.e burn in). I can however tell you that it sometimes takes me week or so for my ears to get used to the new sound that a different make or brand of headphones give me, or change of soundcard.

How do one exactly ABX the brain adjusting?