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My theory as to why headphones appear to 'burn in'. - Page 2

post #16 of 261
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paganini Alfredo View Post

It sounds to me like what the OP is trying to say is that "burn in" is the same thing as "psychoacoustic" adjustment correct? Sounds like Anaxilus could use some common sense...



Thanks for the clarification. I do mean that what is attributed to the actual headphone as 'burn in' is actually psychoacoustic and is down to the listener.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

I've posted a couple of measurements over the time, spread all over different threads, and all showed that the differences are smaller than those resulting from displacement, even if we're just talking about millimeters.

 

I've also seen pre and post burn-in impedance curves of headphones, and yes, of course the transducers change over time but not by much.

 

So I agree with Prog Rock Mans  theory. 


I saw those, but could not find them, so did not want to comment without evidence. It did seem to me that the mechanical changes could not explain burn in, particularly over the alleged 100s of hours with the K702. Then to get vintage headphones and experience 'burn in' with them as well, that frankly seemed very odd indeed.

post #17 of 261

I agree that 'burn in' is actually you just adjusting to the phones.  It makes the most sense to me.

 

But think about this:  What about the people who leave their phones for 150 hours, constantly being fed pink noise?  They claim there is a difference, but yet they have had little listening time.

 

Also I guess a *very* small factor is earpad break-in.  Depending on how close your ears are to the driver, you will hear differently.

post #18 of 261

Indeed, earpads also make a difference. A bigger (I think) difference compared to the changes in the driver itself. Maybe not within the first hours of use though..

 

If you've ever done an ABX test you know how hard it is to remember what you just heard.. so after 150 hours I'm pretty sure that it will sound different than what you can "remember". ;)

 

Both of this are good points headbob.


Edited by xnor - 8/3/10 at 11:47am
post #19 of 261

The problem is, like you said, human sound memory.  If your brain didn't like the sound at first listen, some people put the phone down and run pink noise through it.  When they come back, they are convinced that they changed the sound, and they hear differenly.

 

And so the arguments began.

post #20 of 261
Thread Starter 

With the exception of my AKG K140s where the small pads mold to my ears each time I use them and the K280 where I added in an extra bit of padding and noticed no difference, pads don't change that much.

post #21 of 261

The problem is the exceptions.

If all the kids in a school got recess except one, that one kid would make sure that he got compensation somehow.

The same goes for headphones.  Note how what I said immediately brought your AKGs to mind.

 

I guess that's just the way head-fi is.

post #22 of 261

I think headphones do burn in, and whether or not they do, there is a much more plausible mechanism for them to break in than something like solid state electronics, so I think the position is justified until more hard measurements come in.  Headphones have moving parts, and the properties of those parts can be changed by repetitive movement, just like breaking in a new pair of shoes.  I doubt anything actually does take several hundred hours to break in though.  If anything did take that long to break in it would likely either sound awful right out of the box, since it requires significant loosening up, or else it would sound fine out of the box and any changes that occur over time would be very small because the diaphragm was very tough and took longer than normal to break in.

 

I also have a data point of my own, that points against a purely psychoacoustic explanation.  When I got my DT990/600s I thought they sounded great right out of the box.  By day two, something seemed a little of and it was soon clear that the highs were far to high for my tastes. Maybe it was just what I was listening to, so I listened to the same albums I listened to on the first day again.  Well, I tried to anyway.  I couldn't make it more than a few songs through most of those albums.  The treble was grating on my ears.  Then I found someone else on here who had the same problem with his.  They started out great but the treble just kept creeping upwards.  I really wanted to keep them though.  I wanted to like them.  In fact I like everything else about them.  The bass, the soundstage, the detail, it was all great but I couldn't stand the treble at all.

 

I decided to give them another 100 hours of burn in before I decided to return them or not.  I used music, pink noise, white noise, sine wave sweeps, and even a 25hz or so rumble.  I tried listening to a few tracks every 24 hours or so and it seemed to be getting even worse, but not by a large enough margin to know I wasn't imagining it.  After they'd racked up about 125 total hours I gave them one last try with the same tracks I used when I first opened them.  At first it seemed so-so.  Not as good as fresh out of the box, but not quite as bad as I remembered earlier.  Then, suddenly *VIOLIN SOLO* and I nearly fell off my bed as I hastily reached for the volume control.  That definitely didn't happen the first time I listened to that song with with those headphones a few days ago.  It was decided.  They were going back.

 

The psychoacoustic hypothesis of burn in explains why someone may like a headphone better after getting used to it's sound, but it does not at easily explain why someone would like a headphone at first but quickly change their minds.  I'd also like point out that the only change large enough for me to be reasonably sure I wasn't imagining it occurred very quickly compared to most burn in recommendations.  It was certainly less than 10 hours of use, and probably less than 6, though I don't remember exactly how long.

 

Based on a little bit knowledge, logic, and personal experience, its my opinion that headphones some do in fact burn in but that the process takes place over tens of hours, if that.  Certainly not hundreds of hours.  The DT990/600s are the only 'phone I've noticed such a dramatic change in though.

post #23 of 261


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post

I think headphones do burn in, and whether or not they do, there is a much more plausible mechanism for them to break in than something like solid state electronics, so I think the position is justified until more hard measurements come in.  Headphones have moving parts, and the properties of those parts can be changed by repetitive movement, just like breaking in a new pair of shoes.  I doubt anything actually does take several hundred hours to break in though.  If anything did take that long to break in it would likely either sound awful right out of the box, since it requires significant loosening up, or else it would sound fine out of the box and any changes that occur over time would be very small because the diaphragm was very tough and took longer than normal to break in.

 

I also have a data point of my own, that points against a purely psychoacoustic explanation.  When I got my DT990/600s I thought they sounded great right out of the box.  By day two, something seemed a little of and it was soon clear that the highs were far to high for my tastes. Maybe it was just what I was listening to, so I listened to the same albums I listened to on the first day again.  Well, I tried to anyway.  I couldn't make it more than a few songs through most of those albums.  The treble was grating on my ears.  Then I found someone else on here who had the same problem with his.  They started out great but the treble just kept creeping upwards.  I really wanted to keep them though.  I wanted to like them.  In fact I like everything else about them.  The bass, the soundstage, the detail, it was all great but I couldn't stand the treble at all.

 

I decided to give them another 100 hours of burn in before I decided to return them or not.  I used music, pink noise, white noise, sine wave sweeps, and even a 25hz or so rumble.  I tried listening to a few tracks every 24 hours or so and it seemed to be getting even worse, but not by a large enough margin to know I wasn't imagining it.  After they'd racked up about 125 total hours I gave them one last try with the same tracks I used when I first opened them.  At first it seemed so-so.  Not as good as fresh out of the box, but not quite as bad as I remembered earlier.  Then, suddenly *VIOLIN SOLO* and I nearly fell off my bed as I hastily reached for the volume control.  That definitely didn't happen the first time I listened to that song with with those headphones a few days ago.  It was decided.  They were going back.

 

The psychoacoustic hypothesis of burn in explains why someone may like a headphone better after getting used to it's sound, but it does not at easily explain why someone would like a headphone at first but quickly change their minds.  I'd also like point out that the only change large enough for me to be reasonably sure I wasn't imagining it occurred very quickly compared to most burn in recommendations.  It was certainly less than 10 hours of use, and probably less than 6, though I don't remember exactly how long.

 

Based on a little bit knowledge, logic, and personal experience, its my opinion that headphones some do in fact burn in but that the process takes place over tens of hours, if that.  Certainly not hundreds of hours.  The DT990/600s are the only 'phone I've noticed such a dramatic change in though.


Same thing happened to me with my Denon D7000s - I liked them a lot at audition and out of - box (same can).  As they or I "burned in"  the treble grated me more and more - beats me.

post #24 of 261

/shrug.

 

When I got my CX-300 earphones they were very tinny sounding. After using them periodically for a while when needed, they actually make real sound now and sound pretty good for what they are. The sound was ugly, and now it's not. I remember clearly how bad they sounded, as it really made an impression on me. They clearly do not reproduce music in the same manner anymore; so yeah, I totally believe burn-in is a real deal, just not necessarily to the same extremes for all headphones - some may be extremely subtle.

post #25 of 261
Quote:
Originally Posted by SP Wild View Post

Same thing happened to me with my Denon D7000s - I liked them a lot at audition and out of - box (same can).  As they or I "burned in"  the treble grated me more and more - beats me.


I think the same thing happened with my D2000s, but I never tried to test it with the same tracks again like I did with the DT990/600s so I didn't include it in the above.  I was in such a bad mood that as soon as I noticed it I packed them up and sent them back right then.

 

I didn't notice any change in my HD650s or 2 pair of SE530s.  I think I noticed a slight change in my XB700s, but since I got them open box I have no idea how much time they had them before I got a hold of them, and the change is small enough that it could easily be placebo, so it doesn't provide any evidence either way.

post #26 of 261
Quote:
Originally Posted by moouers View Post

/shrug.

 

When I got my CX-300 earphones they were very tinny sounding. After using them periodically for a while when needed, they actually make real sound now and sound pretty good for what they are. The sound was ugly, and now it's not. I remember clearly how bad they sounded, as it really made an impression on me. They clearly do not reproduce music in the same manner anymore; so yeah, I totally believe burn-in is a real deal, just not necessarily to the same extremes for all headphones - some may be extremely subtle.


I have the CX300 too, but I didn't notice any change. It was very bassy from the moment I first used it, the sound is not that bad, bass is heavier than the IE8, mids are ok, and highs seem good too for the price.

post #27 of 261

My theory, on "burn-in" is very simple.

 

First of all, I don't believe any sort of audio gear will improve over time; since listening to audio is purely subjective it's really the individual believing there is a "burn-in" or improvement in their audio equipment and the individual getting used to the headphones.

 

Same as how people prefer different sound signatures. It's a personal thing and the "burn-in" experience is unique to the individual.

 

As much as I don't really believe in burn-in anymore, I almost always enjoy/like my audio gear more later than when I first get them because the more I get used to listening the headphone, wearing the headphone, etc. the more I enjoy the experience more.


Right now for example, I "feel" that my SRH840's are feeling more comfortable than before. Almost like I'm wearing nothing on my head... though it's probably just me getting used to wearing them opposed to the headphones actually improving over time.

post #28 of 261
Thread Starter 

Maverickronin and SPWild. I do not see any reason why psychoacoustics would not mean a headphone could get worse as well as better. I have read of (but not yet experienced) some products which sound good out of the box but become tiring over time. That is why short auditions have to be treated with some caution.

post #29 of 261

I also don't see any reason why psychoacoustics cannot make it sound worse as well ..

 

There are a lot of variables, e.g. your expectations of the product, reviews you read read about the product etc.

Who knows what's going on in someone's head that has been eagerly waiting for his new headphone to arrive and finally gets to put his hands on it and listen to (with?) it.

 

Ime, experienced reviewers don't write a review on day one or two, but maybe after a week or so when they finally "got it" and got used to the characteristics of their new toy. (and not because they're waiting for their 2342h burn-in session to end)

 

 

And I've seen quite a few experienced members to answer newbie questions regarding burn-in with something like: "The best way to burn-in your headphones is to just listen to music with them."

 

 

Feel free to dig up some of the measurements that were posted. Yes, there are mechanical changes over time, but I doubt that you'll notice or even hear differences considering that

- those differences are tiny (i.e. fractions of a dB)

- displacement will result in bigger differences

- I don't think anyone can do an A-B comparison (pre to post burn-in state) with a couple of hours (!) break in between

 

If you think you can you probably never ABX'd an mp3 or something like that.


Edited by xnor - 8/4/10 at 7:23am
post #30 of 261

Maybe it's just me, but this makes no sense.

Quote:


AKG K702. Supposedly  needs hundreds if not thousands of hours burn in. 

 

Whatever, maybe they do and maybe they don't.

 

Quote:

But they are very detailed and make little background noises easier to hear.  If you are not used to such detail then as you listen to music over the year, particularly albums you only listen to occasionally, you will keep noticing little details you have maybe not been able to hear before.

 

 

 

 

Isn't the whole point of headphones like the K702 to reveal more detail in a recording? I would call this a real effect of a more detailed headphone, not attributable to burn-in. The "little details you have maybe not been able to hear before" are a direct result of better, more revealing headphones. Otherwise, what is the point of headphones like the K702?

 

Quote:

 

That is then attributed to the headphone, but it is not, it is you hearing something for the first time.

 

 

 

Again, you lost me here. You're hearing details for the first time not due to burn-in, but due to the fact that the details were not present with other headphones.

 

 

 

As to burn-in, I'm not sure if it exists, or if it's audible if it does exist. When I first got my TF-10s, I was quite disappointed upon my first listen. I thought the midrange was sorely lacking. (I mostly listen to classic rock, so I like some attack in my phones) A bit of tweaking with the EQ in Rockbox fixed that, but I now find that they don't sound as bad as I first thought, even without the EQ. (I still like them with EQ better than flat.) But, is that me getting used to the sound signature, or the phones burning in? (I can go back and forth with other phones, and I don't get that same sound as my first listening when I go back to the TF-10.) Or did I just learn to get them inserted properly? Did my ears physically adjust to the fit of the phones? Who knows, but I like them now a lot more than I did in December.

 

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