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Break-in versus Break-down

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
We have all learned a lot about the time necessary to "break in" headphones, sometimes as much as a hundred hours or more, until the sound gets really perfect. Then there is a period of terrific sound.

But after a while, don't the diaphrams get a bit loose and that terrific sound gets a bit flabby? Has anyone experienced this phenomonon?

What to do? I guess one just must replace the drivers and start a new break-in cycle?

Comments?
post #2 of 15
You describe a gray, unexplored land. I certainly don't know. But it kind of makes sense that, with time, the neodymium magnets will lose some of their power, and the drivers loosen. It would be most interesting if we had a comparison of to otherwise equal headphones - one new, the other worn-out.

But I have a funny feeling that most Head-Fi'ers will have upgraded or changed phones by the time any of that happens. Still, I wonder if any manufacturers have carried out this kind of research.
post #3 of 15
I have heard of this, in one case, where two HP1000's sounded completely different, one didn't sound as good because it had been used much more extensively.
post #4 of 15
Compare a brand new headphone to one of the same make and model that was used for 6 months - blindfolded, with an assistant to change HPs, with tissue paper covering the pads (so you don't know which one is used or new)
and half the time you will say the new one is the best and thus must be the burned in one.

Burning in is a matter of learning the sound of a new headphone - the sound changes in your perception but not in reality.
post #5 of 15
I would agree with Dr. Arthur that burn in is mainly psychological, but there is a limited burn in period when you first get a headphone.

I have always thought it was kind of ridiculous when people are like "my cans sounded good at 350 hours but the day I crossed that 500 hour mark oooo they REALLY opened up then!"
post #6 of 15
I hope this isn't a threadjack, but this topic begs a question: do drivers ever wear out? With loudspeakers, I've seen foam rot and surrounds break down over time, but does that happen with headphones, too? You would think they would after awhile, since all mechanical devices fail sooner or later.

The longest I owned a pair was about four years- a Sony MDR-V6 pair. They didn't seem to wear out or break down, and I don't have them any longer, but I wonder if they'd give out after 10 or 20 years.

Does anyone know?
post #7 of 15
I had an AKG 141(?), about 20+ years of use. Still sounded great, but the cable was somewhat detached/broken at the rightershell. Everything else was fine on the other hand.
post #8 of 15
I have had an AIWA headphone for about 10 years and they work perfect. Back at home, our family has two pairs of speakers (a Sony and a can't-recall-what-brand active monitor) purchased back in the early 90s - they still work perfect too.

That about sums up my opinion.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by drarthurwells
Burning in is a matter of learning the sound of a new headphone - the sound changes in your perception but not in reality.
I've had a brand new W5000 and one with probably over 1000 hours of use at the same time. The difference between them was obvious.
post #10 of 15
Flabby sound could be a symptom of a blown driver.

Have a look at this thread; thy guy overdid it with artificial "burn-in" and fried his new headphones in the process.

Generally, the drivers of any loudspeaker are mechanical devices, and there is no reason to believe they will last forever. Speakers age, and eventually they wear out. This may take decades, though, under normal conditions. Once you have accepted that, it would be odd to assume that the ageing process will not be reflected in the sound in any way.

My room speakers came with a bottle of silicon-based fluid and the recommendation to apply on an annual basis a small amount to the rubber parts surrounding the membranes. This may help maintain their elasticity for much longer.

Diaphragms of headphone drivers are possibly too small or too fragile (and not always easy to access) to do this, but who knows, maybe it can be done.

My theory is that all moving parts, such as drivers, are subject to ageing. There is a short break-in process at the beginning, then a long period of useful life (unless you are Shang-Ti Chen), and a period of breakdown before "death" of the driver.



Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarshl
We have all learned a lot about the time necessary to "break in" headphones, sometimes as much as a hundred hours or more, until the sound gets really perfect. Then there is a period of terrific sound.

But after a while, don't the diaphrams get a bit loose and that terrific sound gets a bit flabby? Has anyone experienced this phenomonon?

What to do? I guess one just must replace the drivers and start a new break-in cycle?

Comments?
post #11 of 15
AKG141M here with more than 25 years running happily in balanced mode. However, I do not use them regularly, but they have no problem.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banfi T.
AKG141M here with more than 25 years running happily in balanced mode. However, I do not use them regularly, but they have no problem.
I figured that head-fi was the place to ask this question, as many of us have headphones that get serious usage.

I had a pair of electrostatic headphones (Stax Omega IIs). I was told that over time there was the possibility of certain areas shorting out. Is that really possible?
post #13 of 15
I read it's possible to burn little holes in the foils when the amplitude (= volume) is too high and they touch the stators. It sounds plausible, but I don't think it has ever happend to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarshl
I figured that head-fi was the place to ask this question, as many of us have headphones that get serious usage.

I had a pair of electrostatic headphones (Stax Omega IIs). I was told that over time there was the possibility of certain areas shorting out. Is that really possible?
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugano-san
I read it's possible to burn little holes in the foils when the amplitude (= volume) is too high and they touch the stators. It sounds plausible, but I don't think it has ever happend to me.
Yes, that happened to me with my Quad electrostatic speakers, so I would assume that it might happen with electrostatic headphones as well.
post #15 of 15
Happened to my Sennheiser 280 I think...

It really sounds like crap now, could be me though since I'm used to my sennheiser 650's now.
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