I've only just read this, it's past midnight so bear with me if I get incoherent on this. I've skimmed most of the posts.
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man
Here is why I think that the audiophile idea of headphone burn in, as in it is attributable to the headphone is nonsense and the actual reason as to why it appears to happen.
I have been collecting vintage headphones and overall I have 13 headphones, new and old. I tend to listen to one for a few days and then switch. I recently got a loan of so IEMs to try for the first time. I did not really take to them due to the lack of soundstage, comfort and lack of bass and treble. I was complementary about it sound, but thought that when I go back to my AKG K280 Parabolic full sized around ear four diver headphones, which I had been using prior to getting the IEMs, the K280s would sound spectacular. But they didn’t for a day or so. Then they did. They returned to their spectacular sound. this paragraph alone skims onto psychoacoustics to me and can possibly be explained in different ways.
There is the issue of listening to one pair of cans with a certain sound signature and then another with a polarising sound signature. This enhances the difference, be it worse or better and makes the hearing perception of a person possibly change.
Also, it could all be brain 'burn-in'.
On top of that, you have the issue of mood. I know I have that. The more you strain to look for something and get all technical, the harder it is to enjoy. The moment I relax and sit back, the music starts to come alive. I know there are times where I enjoy my IE8s lots, or times when I get a headache and I have issues of motion sickness and so I know I have liquid imbalances in my ears. That's just another take from my side and I'm sure there are other things that will affect sonic perceptions received by the ear and transported to the brain.
There are possibly other reasons, but I'll leave it as that for now.
Thinking back to various headphones and their supposed burn in, there are too many inconsistencies for there to be actual burn in. Some examples;
AKG K702. Supposedly needs hundreds if not thousands of hours burn in. 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. That is then attributed to the headphone, but it is not, it is you hearing something for the first time. I can see to some extent why you are saying what you are saying here, but honestly, you either hear things on a pair of cans or you don't and if more detail gets revealed, either the person was not as perceptive before or it could really be 'burn-in'. I own a pair, but I'll leave my take on 'burn-in' till later.
Sony DR4C. The 10,000 ohm headphone. Very difficult to drive and it took me a while to set the amp right for these to sound at their best. They are from the late 1970s and so are run in in as much as any minor mechanical changes to the driver have happened. But they got better as I got used to using them.
The AKG K280 Parabolic. As I said above I loved these from the start. I then tried IEMs which overall, I did not like as much. But when I went back to the K280s, because the change was so extreme, it took me a while to get used to them again. They have not changed, it was me.
Grado SR80s. They often sound a bit too bright at first, but quickly get to their dynamic attacking best. Moving on to something else afterwards can make that headphone sound dull.
AKG K44. Bought new my baby, cheapest cans, but remarkable in that I am always used to their sound and it has does not change one iota moving from one headphone to another or over a period of listening.
Sony DR5. They have always sounded bright and a bit thin. They were sold as hardly used, so may not have run in. But they sound unchanged in the time I have had them.
AKG K140. Vintage and going by marks they are well used. No change with them, but like the Sony DR4C they needed getting used to and sound a bit flat when I move to them from something more dynamic and bright.
All of the above changes are caused by me and my ears. The idea of burn in attributable to the headphones is not consistent and can be explained by changing from one headphone to another, or just getting used to each headphones sound; its dynamics, and particularly detail. I agree that this is a very real possibility and I do not doubt it and in fact, I attribute a lot of that to myself, but you will also need to appreciate the mechanics of sound and drivers. I don't understand how the work, but again, I'll save a little till later.
That is my reason why burn in does not happen as some audiophiles claim it does. All posts which say ‘that headphone needs burn in’ should actually read ‘that headphone needs getting used to’ or ‘that headphone does not suit your hearing, you can either try and get used to it, or get another pair.’ You are threading down the line of imposing your view on everyone and that's not fair. Most people understand that posts are meant to be read with a grain of salt. There are naive people that walk in without understanding and some are ignorant and remain happy.
Originally Posted by bisayaboi
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.
Again, before someone conclusively decides to take a measure of understanding mechanics and has been involved in making drivers for example, making a sweeping claim that it can only be mental 'burn-in' may be disrespectful to others who believe it exists or to people in the audio industry.
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. ever thought that it might be the pad taking the shape and getting used to your head shape just like how a shoe needs to be worn for a little while to be broken in? Those are simple things and drivers are more complicated. I do not profess to understand how they work, but I can accept if they require 'burn-in' to some degree. I can't think of any electronic device that I definitely believe that you will believe requires 'burn-in' off the top of my head. Perhaps, from my recollection, I've seen some CRT monitor screens start off dim, or even lights, and then they get gradually brighter. 'Burn-in' or just our eyes getting used to it? Granted these are different parts of body perceiving the object, but you know where I am going with it.
Originally Posted by beerguy0
Maybe it's just me, but this makes no sense.
Whatever, maybe they do and maybe they don't.
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? Agreed.
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. Agreed.
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. And it's because of these unexplained phenomenons that we cannot make sweeping claims either way. And my stand is pretty much the same as yours. I only hope I remember everything I want to say at the end of this.
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man
Beerguy0. If your read posts on the K701/2 and you will find many comments of its burn in time being in the hundreds of hours. I asked myself why is that? My theory is that the K701/2 are known for their detailed and revealing sound. If you get a pair and have maybe had less detailed and revealing headphones, or speakers in the past, there will be a noticeable difference. But the difference will be immediate, not after the donkey amount of hours.
As you work your way through your music collection, you will keep noticing these differences. Differences are different to different music. Being naughty and not changing the words. But again as before, most people should be able to discern this thought I concede, not all. Some people will, correctly I say, attribute that to the headphones, as they were from day one of ownership. Others will, incorrectly I say, attribute that to the headphones burning in.
This applies to other headphones as well, particularly high end ones. I just used the AKGs as an example.
My own take on 'burn-in'? I've always been half and half and non-committal. I have no fool-proof evidence to back either claim.
My reasons to believing that burn in exists rests simply on the notion that just like a shoe requires some usage to mold its shape, and you could argue that this is getting used to something, but it should be distinguished that it is the object itself that is changing its shape to accommodate you. Likewise, a bulb, especially those that are supposedly energy saving like my IKEA light bulb, starts off dark and then brightens up after a while, achieving both a brighter light, and wait for it, a more pleasing light visually. Drivers may perhaps work on similar principles in that when they aren't used yet, they do not change shape or move, etc. But when they are turned on, things do change supposedly and I can dig that. Name me something that is used that does not change its shape or something else upon first use, besides trying to hit a rock with my fist. I can sit on clothes and try and compress them and there is a point that it does stop compressing. There is a point that my IKEA light stops getting brighter.
On the other hand, I struggle sometimes to believe that headphones require 'burn-in' to sound so much better as some have claimed. My reasons for this are simple. Why would a manufacturer wish to sell a product that does not sound great or at least, good, at first instance? And if something really requires time to 'burn-in', they should tell us if they believe it to make drastic changes. I think, if I'm not wrong, the HD800 stipulates 'burn-in'.
A lot of the times that I feel that I think there may be 'burn-in' changes, I am quick to attribute it my mood. I've put over 1,000 hours on my IE8s and the general consensus prior was that it sounded better after 200+ hours minimum. But about a month back, I've really started to love them a whole lot more than ever before. But I have no way of knowing that it is due to 'burn-in' nor do I think it is. There are many extraneous factors, again, mood being one of them and the possibility of being sick to name another.
I would probably lean to believing that cans may require some burn-in, but I struggle to believe that it needs a lot or that it changes a whole lot. That's my opinion of course. I'd love to hear from the audio companies actually talking about 'burn-in'. Heck, I think people with some experience with mechanics or audio equipment should be able to chime in. Mind you, I'm very much open to the possibility that 'burn-in' may not even exist.
But to me, at the end of the day, I don't care either way. What matters to me more is that I enjoy my music and that's the crux of it all to me at least. Sound is subjective, everyone's experience is different. I just hope that whatever you choose, you choose enjoyment, not something that you may lose sleep over or get personal and annoyed with.