A little chat...
Originally Posted by sidewinder
It's called placebo. You think you hear changes because it's expensive gear. My dad, as electrical engineer, tells me there's virtually nothing that needs a few minutes of 'burn-in', let alone 300 hours. The electronic stuff inside needs a few seconds, at most, to settle. Oh well, it's another burn-in debate and above all, things that audiophiles 'can hear' and other people cannot
There's no magic. (I won't mention "placebo" one way or the other.) If a $60 amp did the same I'd post my impressions accordingly. In fact I have posted very favorable comments (in perspective) about the $60 PA2V2, which I believe is a tremendous value. Though not a high-end contender, I heartily recommend it for those on a really tight budget. It may not be refined, but it's got big caps and lotsa guts for a tiny price. I'm not a big ticket snob by any means. I can't even afford the high end gear that I love to hear, and understanding budget constraints very well I would never suggest anyone spend their hard-earned cash on something I didn't feel was well worth it -- based solely on my own extended listening and comparisons.
Your ears, anyone's ears - assuming their ears aren't seriously impaired - can hear the difference if you have a "new-out-of-the-box" M-Hornet next to one that's had about 400 hours of play time. More than one Head-fi member has done this and posted findings, though it might help if there were some more of these from different listeners. I say "might", since I expect that those who adamantly refuse to believe that this is possible will be prepared to deny it at all costs.
Even if you can't/don't have the patience to listen to any subtleties (soundstage width, cleaner highs, imaging, inner detail, etc.), the difference in bass energy and impact, if nothing else, is audible.
A while back I had a chat with Filburt, who explained that, technically, nothing actually burns in. Since then I still use the term "burn in" (though I usually enclose it in quotes to accommodate the technical objections) since it's now the most commonly-used term for this process of maturing, or settling (or whatever you choose to call it) that any piece of audio equipment goes through from new to "optimal".
I also told Filburt that I have no EE-related expertise and I would look to members like him to hopefully discover what technically may be occurring to account for audible changes -- because there are audible changes with some equipment. I've experienced some equipment that does not change significantly (if at all), some that changes for the worse, and some that audibly improves with play time. Some require relatively little play time and a few require relatively long periods.
The only way a decent pair of ears won't hear the difference between virgin and "optimal" M-Hornet -- or any equipment that exhibits perceptible changes -- is if the mind is so closed as to filter out all but "sameness".
There are, of course, people who have no interest in any of this, and whose minds are closed to hearing any but the grossest differences (and sometimes even those are interpreted in unusual ways). I know one such person who, when first presented with very cheap headphones, connected to a cheap and noisy source -- and then a much better pair of headphones connected to a good transport/DAC/Amp, both systems level-matched for perceived volume, listened just a few seconds to each (no patience for more) and said, about the better system, "I don't know -- is this one louder or something?" and quickly walked away, disinterested. It is very possible for the mind to be incapable -- or at least unprepared -- to hear equipment differences that others perceive as clearly audible (technical considerations aside).
In the 1980s, many mid-fi gear manufacturers -- large and small -- published their products' specs (often in large, expensive ads in glossy magazines) to "prove" how great their products sound. Then, as now, there were plenty of electronics experts (EE or other otherwise) who asserted that high-end audiophile pursuits were a lie, unnecessary, impossible to prove, and merely a pursuit of self-delusion.
Then, as now, people just had to listen to hear. Yes, then as now there were lots who wanted to believe they could choose "the best" or were easily persuaded, one way or another, to spend lots of money unnecessarily. There are a goodly number, however, who are intelligent and independent, and who have pretty good hearing and judgment.
I'm a perennial skeptic and have a knee-jerk reaction again peer pressure, group dynamics, fads, trends, and persuasion. I'll question my own ears before posting my own impressions. If I discover I've made an error, I'm always willing to listen again and post a correction if needed. Of course there's nothing to stop you from saying my perceptions are illusory -- and yes, I can make mistakes just like everyone else. I only post any comments as reference or recommendation for others to listen for themselves. I don't expect anyone to accept anything I say as true for them, but regarding the M-Hornet I suggest that others listen to the new unit versus 400+ hour unit and report.
I certainly don't expect you to believe anything I say, and I would never try to pressure you to acknowledge anything I say as true. After all, you don't know me, never met me, and we have no history together for you judge whether or not there's any value to my judgments.
I might venture a guess, from your post, that it is fairly unlikely that anything will move you from your position, which is fine. Diversity is interesting.
However, if you ever happen to be somewhere, an audio event, friends house -- whatever -- and actually happen to have the opportunity to hear a virgin-vs-400+-hour M-Hornet, just give a listen with an open mind. Obviously don't try to hear anything one way or the other. Just hear, and if that ever happens I'll be very interested to hear your comments -- whatever they may be "good, bad, or indifferent". I couldn't tell you what a good set up for this might be in terms of ancillary components, connectors and power -- I'm sure there are enough audio experts to offer suggestions.
BTW - Hopefully this is a friendly discussion and not a debate. I've tried to explain myself as well as possible. If there are flaws in my discussion, my apologies -- and for the length of it.