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"Burn in" in amps (and all other electrical parts)

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
I am a strong burn-in believer myself, and i want to ask: what is the scientific explanation for the "burn-in" process in amps?
I understand that in headphones you have the parts that moving (the driver)and it need some time to settle in place. but what's the deal with amps and all other electrical parts (cables,power supplies etc.) what is the scientific explanation for this?
post #2 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
but what's the deal with amps and all other electrical parts (cables,power supplies etc.) what is the scientific explanation for this?
Can't say I've really seen any that hold water.

k
post #3 of 48
I believe the idea is that the metals move around and line up at the molecular level, helping the path of the signal. Or something like that.

I don't believe there's been any scientific proof of this though.
post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koyaan I. Sqatsi View Post
Can't say I've really seen any that hold water.
Not really responsive (or helpful) is it? It sounds like he's interested in hearing possible explanations.
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
Not really responsive (or helpful) is it? It sounds like he's interested in hearing possible explanations.
I'd like to think he's not interested in explanations that don't hold water.

k
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
I am a strong burn-in believer myself, and i want to ask: what is the scientific explanation for the "burn-in" process in amps?
I understand that in headphones you have the parts that moving (the driver)and it need some time to settle in place. but what's the deal with amps and all other electrical parts (cables,power supplies etc.) what is the scientific explanation for this?
The only scientific explanation is that it's brain burn in - ie you become accustomed to the sound and therefore like it more over time.
post #7 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomikPi View Post
The only scientific explanation is that it's brain burn in - ie you become accustomed to the sound and therefore like it more over time.
There's much to be said for that.

I'll never forget an experience that really drove that home for me.

Since I was a child, and up until I was about 15, I'd always listen, as most every other kid my age, with the bass and treble cranked all the way up.

Then I came to be friends with the first "audiophile" I'd ever encountered who told me I had it all wrong. That I had to zero out the tone controls and listen "flat."

Well, when I got home I zeroed out my tone controls and threw on some music.

It sounded like ass. Like I was listening through soggy mattresses.

But I let peer pressure get the better of me and decided to leave the tone controls zeroed out. I may not have liked the sound, but by God I was doing the right thing.

And then over time it started sounding less and less like ass. I started hearing things in the music that I'd never heard before. Like the "metallic" sound of cymbals rather than big bursts of noise.

I eventually came to really like the sound.

And a few weeks later, just for fun, I decided to crank the bass and treble up.

It was painful.

Bottom line, the brain REALLY digs patterns. And when presented with the same pattern over time, that pattern wears a rut in the brain and the brain eventually accepts that pattern as the norm. Change that pattern and everything gets thrown out of whack.

Like the mirror on my medicine cabinet.

Once in a great while I'll walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and suddenly feel a little off balance.

Why?

Because the cabinet door is ajar just a little bit. Maybe only a quarter of an inch. But that quarter of an inch causes the reflections in the mirror to be tweaked enough that my brain sees a different pattern than it usually does and freaks out for a moment.

Strange and amazing thing, the brain.
post #8 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koyaan I. Sqatsi View Post
There's much to be said for that.

I'll never forget an experience that really drove that home for me.

Since I was a child, and up until I was about 15, I'd always listen, as most every other kid my age, with the bass and treble cranked all the way up.

Then I came to be friends with the first "audiophile" I'd ever encountered who told me I had it all wrong. That I had to zero out the tone controls and listen "flat."

Well, when I got home I zeroed out my tone controls and threw on some music.

It sounded like ass. Like I was listening through soggy mattresses.

But I let peer pressure get the better of me and decided to leave the tone controls zeroed out. I may not have liked the sound, but by God I was doing the right thing.

And then over time it started sounding less and less like ass. I started hearing things in the music that I'd never heard before. Like the "metallic" sound of cymbals rather than big bursts of noise.

I eventually came to really like the sound.

And a few weeks later, just for fun, I decided to crank the bass and treble up.

It was painful.

Bottom line, the brain REALLY digs patterns. And when presented with the same pattern over time, that pattern wears a rut in the brain and the brain eventually accepts that pattern as the norm. Change that pattern and everything gets thrown out of whack.

Like the mirror on my medicine cabinet.

Once in a great while I'll walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and suddenly feel a little off balance.

Why?

Because the cabinet door is ajar just a little bit. Maybe only a quarter of an inch. But that quarter of an inch causes the reflections in the mirror to be tweaked enough that my brain sees a different pattern than it usually does and freaks out for a moment.

Strange and amazing thing, the brain.
it was the same story with me too. before i became an audiophile i also used the equlizer extensively, boosting all the low and highs (and with the se530 non of the less) and than i relised that flat is the way to listen and it also sounded the best after a while. our ears can get used to every sound(almost) very quickly.

but i am not looking for a "proof" or something..and i also don't want to make this another believers against non-believers war thread.
i am just asking what is the scientific (or "audiophilic" if you want) explenation for this process in amps or any other electrical equipment. (like tubes and such)

I know that there are head-fiers that do believe in "burn-in" and some of them is a long-time audiophiles that even mentioning burn-in of amps in their reviews all the time.
maybe they are also "imagining" but i tend to believe them though...becasue who am i to tell a 20-30 years audiophile that he is imagining all this changes. you know what i mean...??

so i am just asking what is the explanation for this, because there has to be one.
post #9 of 48
Something that has been tried: Take 2 of the same device that has a reputation for changing noticeably with burn-in. Use one but not the other for a few hundred hours, then compare them. I've seen quite a few people who believed that burn-in was rubbish do this and get a severe shock at the difference. Not that all gear changes, but some that I've owned has, correlated with numerous other people, changed in tonality over the first few hundred hours of use. However, in my experiments with audio gear, I put this down to heat, and not electricity. There's no doubt that heat causes changes in materials.
post #10 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
Something that has been tried: Take 2 of the same device that has a reputation for changing noticeably with burn-in. Use one but not the other for a few hundred hours, then compare them. I've seen quite a few people who believed that burn-in was rubbish do this and get a severe shock at the difference. Not that all gear changes, but some that I've owned has, correlated with numerous other people, changed in tonality over the first few hundred hours of use. However, in my experiments with audio gear, I put this down to heat, and not electricity. There's no doubt that heat causes changes in materials.
thanks for the comment, this is more to the point.
If to be honest, i never noticed any noticable change with my own gear (excluding my headphones which i did noticed a pretty noticable change)
but I still believe others that claim they do hear a difference.

it's been said about the EF1 that it changes noticably after about 100+ hours, but its difficult for me to notice it because i change tubes all the time. in my ultra micro amp i did not experience any noticable change either.
post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
I am a strong burn-in believer myself, and i want to ask: what is the scientific explanation for the "burn-in" process in amps?
I understand that in headphones you have the parts that moving (the driver)and it need some time to settle in place. but what's the deal with amps and all other electrical parts (cables,power supplies etc.) what is the scientific explanation for this?
If the amplifier contains components that change over time, then burn in just applies some of working time to those components. For example the various x and y series ceramic capacitors. X5R capacitors lose about 2.5% of their capacitance per log10 hour - so while it changes 5% during the first 10 hours, it will then change a further 2.5% the next 100 - so a 33nF capacitor will have become a 30nF capacitor, consequently changing corner frequencies. Of course, there will be further changes at 1000 & 10000 hours (etc). The same applies to other components that have an aging effect. Whetever these are or should be used in audiophile equipment is a different question. Also, not all dielectrics have this aging quality.
post #12 of 48
If there is any explanation for this (i.e. if it isn't all bollocks) then it'd be the caps, resistors, diodes, etc. changing over time.
However in my experience even cheap components you wouldn't use in audio applications take thousands of hours to change a little.
post #13 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
but i am not looking for a "proof" or something..and i also don't want to make this another believers against non-believers war thread.
i am just asking what is the scientific (or "audiophilic" if you want) explenation for this process in amps or any other electrical equipment. (like tubes and such)

I know that there are head-fiers that do believe in "burn-in" and some of them is a long-time audiophiles that even mentioning burn-in of amps in their reviews all the time.
maybe they are also "imagining" but i tend to believe them though...becasue who am i to tell a 20-30 years audiophile that he is imagining all this changes. you know what i mean...??

so i am just asking what is the explanation for this, because there has to be one.
It was clear what you were asking for to anybody who doesn't approach every thread like this with a certain agenda. You have to put a warning in bold at the beginning of a thread like this -- along the lines of what you said above -- if you want to get real answers. Hopefully, now that the thread is on track, others will chime in. I have seen this issue discussed before, with particulars about what changes in amps, so perhaps some of those folks will also contribute.
post #14 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilS View Post
Hopefully, now that the thread is on track, others will chime in. I have seen this issue discussed before, with particulars about what changes in amps, so perhaps some of those folks will also contribute.
I will be glad to hear more comments about this issue. sorry if I bring up an already discussed issue, but i didn't see it in a while so i decided to start a thread.
post #15 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by plonter View Post
I will be glad to hear more comments about this issue. sorry if I bring up an already discussed issue, but i didn't see it in a while so i decided to start a thread.
Remember while you can speculate and assume there isn't any real evidence to support your claim. It's like asking a roomful of scientists what the evidence for young earth creationism is - there simply isn't any.
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