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Tyll testing confirms: Burn-in is clearly audible - Page 3  

post #31 of 86
Originally Posted by jupitreas View Post

Another issue with this test is that Tyll knew he was looking for a difference and he heard both headphones before the test. He was also familiar with the songs being played and knew what small nuances to listen to.


But then again, I don't think Tyll claims anywhere in the article that this is objectively conclusive proof that burn-in exists and is audible. Its great that this attempt to get some more data in this great big argument was made and I applaud it.

How is any of that an issue in a blind comparison? None of that should matter if he doesn't know which device is on his noggin. Looking for a difference doesn't allow to find consistancy in randomness if not there.


It's been ignored but I said early on that the way to confirm in this instance would be to fully break in the new pair and repeat the test. It would give a control of whether the two phones were actually close enough to identical in original build to be meaningful.


Obviously one test either way doesn't 'prove' anything but if we're going to be headstrong and scientific, we should approach this rationally. Listening material doesn't matter and source doesn't matter as long as it can drive the device and is of a high enough quality not to mask things. Testing procedure and a control matter. In this case the control would be to break in the new phones and compare again and when I say break in, I mean like over 1000 hours so that we won't be talking about variance in time.


Edited by goodvibes - 9/9/11 at 6:48am
post #32 of 86
Is there any possibility that the two headphones felt any different when placed on the head? Even the slightest difference could trigger a subconscious recognition.
post #33 of 86

Personally I wouldn't mind letting alone manufacturer variations as they're probably very tiny to almost not existent.  I don't see why people complain on the different models, they're virtually the same but the color.  I may be missing something Tyll mentioned though, but as far as I see it they're both the Q701, green and white.  So I would leave the part where he had to "prove that both pairs are identical".  It's obviously about science -- to a degree though; our hearing system isn't pure math.


The only thing I might consider as an issue here, is the green one having more head time (unless the 1000+ hours were virtually only shelf time).  Head time might have altered the sound a bit because of the pads softening in and so on.  So maybe he got used to their (apparently) new sound signature wherein the white one felt a little bit different and new.  So, this was the reason why he guessed right.  And not the technical elements themselves.  But this is just a maybe.


Overall I'd just say thanks for your time providing us with your results, Tyll.

post #34 of 86
Originally Posted by oldshoe99 View Post

Is there any possibility that the two headphones felt any different when placed on the head? Even the slightest difference could trigger a subconscious recognition.


Pretty much what I try to point out.  This surely could've been a factor in the test.  It depends on whether it was head or shelf time.

post #35 of 86
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by koolkat View Post


Edit: Interesting experiment. Unfortunately as many have highlighted, two different headphones are not identical. The difference in sound could've been manufacturing differences so the a better way to conduct a burn-in experiment is to pick two identical headphones, burn one pair in and then blind test them both.

Yeah, and as Tyll notes, the challenge really does lie in identifying clear cut reference points to compare. This is regardless if we're talking about two identical headphones, or through supremely sophisticated tools for measuring changes in the physical make-up of one headphone before and after burn-in. In principle, the challenge is first identifying a methodology which is bullet-resistant enough (since none is likely to be bullet-proof) and then executing and reporting the results in an appropriate way. There will doubtless be different opinions on whatever is done, and what Tyll (in my view) is primarily after is that people try to chime in on how to improve testing so that burn-in can go from a back-and-forth speculative topic to one where people collaborate constructively to figure out what and how to actually test things, and what these tests show.


I think it's brilliant that he's making an effort like this, as this is a tricky problem to try and approach. I think the rest of us that have the ability should constructively help him improve his testing methodology (overall, including objective and subjective parts) as well as help him interpret the results. Such a discussion is likely more helpful than stating how flawed different aspects may be without suggesting improvements. 


Edit: My last sentences didn't add up at first.


Edited by Trasselkalle - 9/9/11 at 7:08am
post #36 of 86

Not to be overly critical, but statistically significant = 0.95 confidence interval.

post #37 of 86

Hi guys!


Glad to have given you something to chat about this fine Friday. I'm out on a motorcycle trip so won't be able to follow along in this thread til Monday, but I'll make a few comments anyway.


Because I am unable to really perform rigid scientific tests, what I'm really shooting for in this cumbersome and lumbering series of experiments on break-in is to develop a preponderance of evidence. It's not rigid scientific evidence, but it is significantly better than the anecdotal yabbering that often arises here.  Mainly, I'm just slowly trying to bring some order to my own understanding of what's going on, and bringing you guys along for the ride.


As far as I'm concerned, I totaly believe break-in exists for mechanical parts ... it simply makes sense.  Shoes break-in ... motorcycle engines break-in ... stuff changes with time and movement. I've measured changes over time twice now, and will be a third time soon. I think both "sides" in this debate miss the point if they take a "side." While we can't fully trust our ears, our ears do hear things subtly and our mind experiences those sounds. Our mind is also active and imaginative, so it's rather like a 25 cent ruler that likes to move and wiggle all on its own. There's slop in the system here, so don't expect clear, cause and effect results.


I'm rambling ... my mind is in my helmet ... here's the comment I liked:


The Monkey says, "Further, regardless of whether break-in is real, the notion of it is still abused by the proudly uninformed."


^^This!  Is the thing that bugs me too.  The number of times I've seen folks talk about their headphones settling in after break-in is astounding.  It's now become the common belief that you won't know what your headphones sound like until they're burned-in. That's balony. While I could tell the difference between the two cans, they weren't much different. When you open a box of headphones and have a listen, that's pretty much what they're going to sound like. Anyone who says, "OMG after burn-in my new cans are night-and-day better" is full of hoooeee. 


Just trying to walk a sensable middle road here. 


Anyway, have fun y'all. 

post #38 of 86
Thread Starter 

Thanks for commenting Tyll and thanks for your tests and experiences shared on Innerfidelity. It's very good reading for light entertainment in the more odd tests (airplane buds etc) and downright educational for the more technical aspects. The pragmatic 'viewing things from both sides' approach that you have is excellent and really hits something that not many have. Speaking of which... the multiple episode approach that you used for the burn-in testing is quite good in my opinion. It doesn't really matter the topic (to me), but it adds a flavor that isn't there in other reviews. Hopefully, it also gives you useful input from us readers in terms of potential future steps that you may want to consider taking.


Have a good time motorcycling!

post #39 of 86

Hi Tyll, have a great time in your motorcycle trip. I agree that the basic sound from a piece of gear will not be transformed from a "piece of krap" to awesome or viceversa. However, I do believe that burn-in will ammeliorate some sound components while allowing other portions to blossom. Or to put it simply it would not turn a burger into prime rib! ;)

post #40 of 86
He still didn't address the issue of pre-burnin by the mfr. There are lots of literature in the field about how mfrs. burn in lots of hi-fi products before they get to consumers. Assuming some or most of the low-cost headphones get little or no burn-in, or that some of the more costly headphones around $250 to $500 for example may not get burn-in, we're operating in the dark until this test is done with enough different products by different mfrs. that we have a more reliable test.
post #41 of 86

I know burn-in is real because I've owned a K702. wink_face.gif Is it true for every headphone? Of course not. Do I need an article to prove it one way or another? No. Why? For the same reason I know that my computer is right here beside me: because I can see it and (unfortunately) hear it. Prove me wrong, skeptics. I find it hilarious that so many Head-fiers are so flaky with their sense of hearing-it's truly mindblowing. I would ask: are you psyched out so easily by your other senses as well? Why is it that the sense of hearing is so wishy-washy, but the 4 other senses are generally so believable. Do you not trust your eyes when you see something? Do you not trust your hands when  when you feel something? Ever farted?? Ate pizza? Nah-it's probably all 'placebo' and 'brain burn in' lol. Maybe it's hard to hear something with your head buried in the sand. rolleyes.gif


I agree however, that not every headphone will audibly change over time from burn in, as I've owned dozens, and only a few changed. But for some it was very dramatic (K702), and others-not so much. But I sure as s*** don't need a skeptic to tell me what I did or did not experience-nor would I tell anyone else what their experiences were. That's just absolutely crazy. So, burn in is real, with certain equipment. I already know it, so why would I need to believe it?





I'm outta here-take that!.gif





post #42 of 86

I really like the approach of testing both headphones once they both reach the 2000+ hour mark.  If we can no longer tell the difference we know that one has changed due to burn in.


If Tyll and I could do more testing with say 10 pairs of AKG Q701's and be able to burn in a few from that group it would really help reduce the differences we may hear in drivers.


In any case it was a fun test and hopefully we are able to do a few more.


I hear a ton of differences in new vs the same headphone burned in up at KGLT which is our college radio station.  I remember when the station manager brought in some Sennheiser HD-202's and how they sounded new.  Now they are several years old and they sound quite difference.  The bass is much looser and prominent now than it was right out of the box.  I suspect that the high end has mellowed which makes the bass seem more emphasized.  I enjoy them even less used than new.

Edited by NA Blur - 9/9/11 at 12:37pm
post #43 of 86

I think the best way (other then all this double blind multiple headphones / particiapant stuff) to test it is by listening to the headphones for a while brand new.....


Then using pink noise, frequency sweeps, standard music burn in for like 6 hours then trying them again...


That way it rules out "getting used" to the headphones.

Edited by nicholars - 9/9/11 at 12:46pm
post #44 of 86
Originally Posted by WarriorAnt View Post

Well I'm not affected by placebo or bias.  I have 24 years of mixing experience under my belt and it was forged in an environment where truth lives and falsehood is out the door by lunch time. theres none of that did we hear the same things?  Is what we just heard real?    I'm wondering if the well documented phenomenon actually was tested on people who use their aural skills professionally 8--10-12 hours a day in conjunction with other professionals doing the same routine or wether the test simply took someone with non professional, average developed aural perception and aural memory and decided the results were de facto and completely valid and always true.


Anyway plenty of parameters in audio perception cannot be measured with these pedantic measurements.  Can you measure soundstage?  Yet it does exist. Can you measure the silkiness of a violin string? You know it when you hear it.   People who go on and on about placebo and and bias towards what they might hear or wether or not their minds are playing tricks on them rather than confirm that what they do hear is real need to gain a little confidence in what they hear instead of always looking for some ridiculous scientific proof.  Just trust your ears.  What's going into them is real.  It really is as easy as that.

I am really surprised by these statements. I would expect someone with your experience to have at least a basic understanding of psychoacoustics. If you state that you are immune to aural illusion then you are either not a human being or fooling yourself. Tell me that you are immune to the McGurk Effect for example. I have even more professional experience than you and have relied on my hearing for 30 years for my living. I trust my ears but within a defined framework. For example, I cannot rule out some sort of spurious problem at 18kHz, because I cannot hear 18kHz but someone else might, so it's prudent to check my mixes with measurements. If you don't then I would consider you a sloppy professional. I would expect as an experienced professional that you would be less susceptible to bias, placebo and aural illusions than a non-professional but I would also expect you to know enough about the process of hearing to understand that you cannot be immune to them. Even the greatest mastering engineers on the planet understand this fact.

Also, you should know as a professional, that the Nyquist-Shannon Theorem proves that all the information in a recording can be measured, converted and stored. If this was not true, digital audio would not exist. You really do yourself a disservice by blindly accepting what you hear without questioning how or why you are hearing it.

Back to the OP: There seems to be two threads dealing with this Tyll article, here's what I put in the other thread, if it's of any interest.

Originally Posted by gregorio View Post

Tyll has determined a small difference between two headphones of the same model from the same manufacturer. And then, out of nowhere he makes a leap to 90% certainty that it is due to burn-in. He could just as easily have made a leap of 90% certainty that the manufacturing tolerances of the headphones resulted in a perceivable difference. If anything, this would have been the more logical conclusion.

The biased conclusions and inadequate testing made this whole exercise pointless in my opinion. What he should have done is to have measured and blind tested both cans new and then given one set of cans 1000hrs of pink noise and then measured and blind tested them again. Double blind testing would have been even more appropriate.

I could be cynical and say that Tyll has stated a few facts (such as not being able to rule out manufacturer differences) to give the impression of being objective, while deliberately manufacturing a false conclusion to convince others to share his obvious bias. But I don't know the man or his motivations, so I'll just leave it that his test was poorly conceived and provided no insight as to whether burn-in is a real phenomenon.


Edited by gregorio - 9/9/11 at 2:10pm
post #45 of 86
Now, burn in the new phones an equivalent timeperiod of the older set and retest.
If they sound different, it's manufacture variance.
If they sound the same, then proclaim burn in as real tongue.gif

It's the only way, Tyll. And, you did start this! very_evil_smiley.gif
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