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Mr.Twinkie

"Burn In" technique for audio...

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Heard my friend say that if i let my newly purchased headphones play different kinds of music for long, longg hours. It'll improve the sound quality or somewhat. I googled it and came with a bunch of beating around the bush arguments about this 'burn in' procedure.

 

Im wondering what you guys reckon of it since I'm pretty sure there's some pretty intellectual and informative people here at atomic.

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i would rather assume its not real.

 

and by 'not real' i mean immaterial :)

 

because....my suspicion is that although some physical aspects of the circuit and associated parts of the whole could theoretically have their functionality marginally altered in the short term through heating and cooling and movement in a way that resulted in audible changes, these couldnt necessarily be assumed to be beneficial, and 999999 times out of a million this is unlikely to be the case, and/or any such changes would be utterly dwarfed by and rendered indistinguishable from all the involuntary changes in the listener's/wearer's psychological relationship to the sounds produced by those cans over the course of continued exposure and familiarity.

 

i mean, are the headphones warming to you or are you just warming to them? how the fuck does one tell? i tend to favour the latter.

 

i am sure if you bothered to minutely examine the physicality of a bunch of headphones you could identify some that would make vastly better candidates than others for supporting the theory of 'burn in'. and maybe after a lot of effort you could map certain materials and design qualities likely to lead to peaks of positive user ratings in double blind listener experiments after, but not before, periods of sustained and semi-aggressive use. but even that would probably be a long way from providing any useful information! the conclusion might be that the phenomenon exists, or does to a great extent with a particular set of headphones. so what? youre still typically in a position where you going to buy one pair of one model at any one time and listen away. in practice, whether hammering the shit out of them for a while with them on or off your head improves things or not, youre going to get them to that point soon enough anyway. so imo its not really worth thinking about.

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i mean, are the headphones warming to you or are you just warming to them? how the fuck does one tell? i tend to favour the latter.

 

I agree.

 

I tend to never be truely happy wiht any new audio purchase but after a while i get used to them and enjoy it anyway.

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I've been reading up on a lot of headphone forums lately and they all seem to say that a burn in period is a must. Plenty of folks claim to hear a big difference after 50-100 hours of use, whether that's the headphones warming up or their ears getting used to the headphones though...? It makes sense that moving parts would 'loosen' up after a while though and that would affect the sound in some way?

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As has already been mentioned any mechanical system will change with use. With a new car you are supposed to let the engine wear in before giving it too much of a thrashing, so there may be some truth in the idea of a burn in period although maybe wear in might be a better term.

 

Remember though "audiophiles" also buy into this kind of crap and make claims that are rarely able to be backed up by any scientifically valid evidence. If a product really does need to be worn in for best performance any decent manufacturer will make you aware of this as it will impact the impression of their product.

 

Burn-in in regard to computers is the term used to do an overnight stress test to ensure the system doesn't have any obvious issues before it is shipped to a customer.

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Must admit all my systems have had their CPUs "burned in" in one way or another.

 

Usually it involved me typing the commands:

# tar -C /mnt/gentoo -xjpf stage3-ARCH-SNAPSHOT.tar.bz2
# cat /etc/resolv.conf > /mnt/gentoo/etc/resolv.conf
# mount none /mnt/gentoo/proc -t proc
# chroot /mnt/gentoo
# emerge --sync
# emerge -e system

In the case of the MacBook, I coded up and ran a little script which I posted here. I found it was the only way to get The Gimp.

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I'd say it's unnoticable with headphones.

 

But CPU/RAM have varying results from burning in, CPU's more so because they get burned pretty hard before being shipped, so often it makes little difference.

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i have heard of a "burn in" technique, during my time working with professional audio equipment (live bands ect) which was purely for the speakers. from what i was told and understand it was to "wear the speaker membrane/cone in" so to avoid early speaker death and allow you to push the speak as hard as possible from the get go.

this was accomplished with the use of a simple 12v battery by connecting the positive and negative of the speaker to the battery.

 

imo with headphones i would also say it's unnoticeable, also much harder with the battery process than "burn in" via usage.

Edited by cleadge

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i have heard of a "burn in" technique, during my time working with professional audio equipment (live bands ect) which was purely for the speakers. from what i was told and understand it was to "wear the speaker membrane/cone in" so to avoid early speaker death and allow you to push the speak as hard as possible from the get go.

this was accomplished with the use of a simple 12v battery by connecting the positive and negative of the speaker to the battery.

Mmmm, 12V across 16Ω load... 16 into 12 goes... 3/4... so 750mA current, 12V times 750mA is 9W... no I wouldn't want to try that with headphones.

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Rather than retype, i'll copy/pasta:

 

[13:29.08] <zebra> http://forums.atomicmpc.com.au/index.php?s...mp;#entry837018 <-- does anyone actually believe in this?

[13:29.42] <Cael> you talking about the burn in phenomenon?

[13:30.04] <zebra> yeah

[13:30.15] <Cael> well, think about it from a physics perspective.

[13:30.38] <Cael> you have a hard substance that is suspended from a frame, by a soft substance that has been moulded to a certain shape.

[13:31.12] <Cael> there is bound to be some initial softening of the suspension, with use.

[13:31.19] <zebra> so you're saying it could make an appreciable difference?

[13:31.21] <Cael> after that, it stabilises.

[13:31.24] <Cael> oh, absolutely.

[13:31.27] <zebra> interesting

[13:31.48] <Cael> how much of an effect it would have, would depend entirely on the type of suspension used...

[13:32.01] <Cael> things like foam suspensions, wouldn't see much of an improvement.

[13:32.13] <Cael> things like paper and harder rubber suspensions, absolutely.

[13:32.38] <Cael> would it really make a difference in a headphone? well, likely less than a larger speaker

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I asked my brother about this (audio/recording engineer) and he said:

 

"Well, technically it would be 'good' for the speakers to get used to all the different frequencies. If anything, it's actually possible that it could 'help the life' of the speaker for a few reasons. Think of it as stretching something to allow for more flexibility - like a muscle. But, I can bet that the people asking these kinds of questions are the very people that would never be able to tell the difference between a burnt in and non burnt in device"

 

...interesting.

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If you're going to bother burning in use something like the "Densen DeMagic Disc"

 

and kill 2 snakeoil beliefs with one stone :P

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Tuning my pretty high end car audio gear (~1100WRMS per speaker range), they are more flexible, but I've noticed no quality difference from my 3ways or 6x9's after a good thrashing for a year from when I first got them...

 

I'm in belief that wearing in a speaker can improve life, such as most subs being blow up for example, would be new.

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