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Burn-in: Listen to this idea

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I just picked up a pair of Denon AH-C710s and got to thinking about the age-old question of whether burn-in is real or not again.

 

This got me thinking: if it was real, and considering how many audiophiles out there pay an arm and a leg for that slight improvement in audio quality, why aren't manufacturers of high-end headphones doing anything about it?

 

Think about it: Back in the day, when you bought a sports car, you were advised to break in the engine by driving it at half its potential for 5,000km before really making the engine flex its muscles. That is, until some manufacturers started selling sports cars with engines broken in at the factory. You could suddenly go full-bore as soon as you started the engine.

 

Why aren't the Porsches and Ferraris of the audiophile world doing the same? I could have bought a pair of Denon AH-C710s that were previously burnt in at the factory by qualified technicians. And real or not, this could be another bullet point in the product's overall feature set.

 

I mean, if you were given the choice to purchase a set of headphones, or the same set but with a "factory burn-in" sticker on it, which would you buy?

 

Fellow audiophiles, what say you?

 

Maybe I'm on to something here...

 

(Did a search for "pre-burned" but nothing directly related to my post appeared. Apologies if this has been covered before!)

post #2 of 16

Because the change in the drivers usually is very small and nobody wants squished earpads.

post #3 of 16
This has indeed been discussed before.

I would interpret the argument more like: "Companies never even advice to burn in the headphones. If the engineers with the fancy credentials do not think burn-in matters, then why should we?"
post #4 of 16

Companies like Audio GD do a "burn in" with their amps and DACs before they leave the factory.

With headphones I am more now on Mike's(headfonia)line,that they might need a couple of hours to loosen up etc.

What I noticed for myself is,that I usually dislike the sound of a "new to me" headphone because my brain is not "there" yet.

After some hours/days I got adjusted and I can hear the headphone as it is intended to sound for me/my hearing potential(always limited by gear,brain etc).

With the SennHD650 it took me a couple of days to like it;with the LCD2 it took a few hours and with the Grados it never happened.

So for me it is more of a "brain adjustment" than headphone burn in.

But why take away the mystery,when it keeps us busy and entertained on sites like this?
 

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

Because the change in the drivers usually is very small and nobody wants squished earpads.

What does the squished earpads mean? I've never heard this before. I'd agree nobody would want that in their headphones but if burning them in causes this effect why would anyone bother with burn-in in the first place?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpo View Post

This has indeed been discussed before.
I would interpret the argument more like: "Companies never even advice to burn in the headphones. If the engineers with the fancy credentials do not think burn-in matters, then why should we?"

This is a good point. From this point of view it seems like the difference burn-in makes is negligible. Still, given the proclivities of many head-fi members to burn-in their headphones, it does seem like this is a marketable concept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silversurfer616 View Post

Companies like Audio GD do a "burn in" with their amps and DACs before they leave the factory.

With headphones I am more now on Mike's(headfonia)line,that they might need a couple of hours to loosen up etc.

What I noticed for myself is,that I usually dislike the sound of a "new to me" headphone because my brain is not "there" yet.

After some hours/days I got adjusted and I can hear the headphone as it is intended to sound for me/my hearing potential(always limited by gear,brain etc).

With the SennHD650 it took me a couple of days to like it;with the LCD2 it took a few hours and with the Grados it never happened.

So for me it is more of a "brain adjustment" than headphone burn in.

But why take away the mystery,when it keeps us busy and entertained on sites like this?
 

You're talking about brain burn-in and yeah, no amount of physical burn-in would benefit in this case!

 

By the way, the Denons sound golden.

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsondynamics View Post

What does the squished earpads mean? I've never heard this before. I'd agree nobody would want that in their headphones but if burning them in causes this effect why would anyone bother with burn-in in the first place?

Wear on the pads is one thing that causes significant changes in sound over time. Probably a lot more than the change in the drivers.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by silversurfer616 View Post

Companies like Audio GD do a "burn in" with their amps and DACs before they leave the factory.

 

 

Do they burn-in their electronics at the factory to weed out defective product?

Or to "Improve the sound"? 

I know Bryston performs rigorous burn in, but that is only to weed out defective product, bad parts, bad solder joints, reduce warranty costs, etc. 


Edited by Chris J - 8/11/12 at 1:23pm
post #8 of 16

I think it is both!
 

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by silversurfer616 View Post

I think it is both!

 

I don't think so. All they mention on their site is: "We burn in all gears for more than 100 hours and check several times before shipping, to make sure that our products have a good quality control."

 

They don't mention sound improvements in relation to that.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

I don't think so. All they mention on their site is: "We burn in all gears for more than 100 hours and check several times before shipping, to make sure that our products have a good quality control."


They don't mention sound improvements in relation to that.

Likely it's to see if they produce Magic Smoke during that time...
post #11 of 16

Asked and answered 100 times already.

 

Regardless of anyone's opinion about the 'phenomenon' it makes zero sense from a business or economics stand point.  Total loser of an idea.

 

1-Extra actual cost

-Allocating extra personnel and space 

-using extra power and resources

-cost must be passed on to the consumer in the product price leading to

2-Competitiveness

-reduced competition due to increased costs.  Economics will favor the manufacturer that doesn't waste their time and effort and keeps costs low

3-Extra opportunity costs

-loss of income due to product sitting around doing burn-in cycles

-every second your product isn't on the sales floor means someone isn't buying it or is buying a competitor.

4-Market too small

-Beats, ibud users never heard of burn-in and couldn't give a rats a**. 

5-Waste

-why devote resources to a natural phenomenon?  Going to happen anyway from people using it on their own

-controversial topic that could cost as many customers as it gains

6-Attorneys and frivolous lawsuits

-legal liabilities of selling a used product as new

-marketing a claim or effect w/o sufficient data/proof.

7-Warranty

-increased wear could increase warranty claims

-unlike SS gear that doesn't move, a driver does.  It acts as a spring and piston, motion causes wear.

 

People have or do market the gear/service in the aftermarket already.  Nobody in their right mind claims burn-in turns a Beats Solo into a HD800.  Just like a BMW never becomes a Ferrari with burn-in/break-in/rodage.  So why people continue to debate fallacious straw men on both sides is beyond me.  Nvm, it isn't.


Edited by Anaxilus - 8/11/12 at 5:23pm
post #12 of 16

I think some countries have laws requiring manufacturers to be able to prove marketing-claims ..

 

Besides, they are in fact 'burned in', go to 2:25 in the below video and see how :

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

Asked and answered 100 times already.

 

Regardless of anyone's opinion about the 'phenomenon' it makes zero sense from a business or economics stand point.  Total loser of an idea.

 

1-Extra actual cost

-Allocating extra personnel and space 

-using extra power and resources

-cost must be passed on to the consumer in the product price leading to

2-Competitiveness

-reduced competition due to increased costs.  Economics will favor the manufacturer that doesn't waste their time and effort and keeps costs low

3-Extra opportunity costs

-loss of income due to product sitting around doing burn-in cycles

-every second your product isn't on the sales floor means someone isn't buying it or is buying a competitor.

4-Market too small

-Beats, ibud users never heard of burn-in and couldn't give a rats a**. 

5-Waste

-why devote resources to a natural phenomenon?  Going to happen anyway from people using it on their own

-controversial topic that could cost as many customers as it gains

6-Attorneys and frivolous lawsuits

-legal liabilities of selling a used product as new

-marketing a claim or effect w/o sufficient data/proof.

7-Warranty

-increased wear could increase warranty claims

-unlike SS gear that doesn't move, a driver does.  It acts as a spring and piston, motion causes wear.

 

People have or do market the gear/service in the aftermarket already.  Nobody in their right mind claims burn-in turns a Beats Solo into a HD800.  Just like a BMW never becomes a Ferrari with burn-in/break-in/rodage.  So why people continue to debate fallacious straw men on both sides is beyond me.  Nvm, it isn't.

 

nice. if i ever need 2 do an essay on burn-in, I'm so copy and pasting ur comment.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKG240mkII View Post

 

Besides, they are in fact 'burned in', go to 2:25 in the below video and see how :

 

Are you trying to be funny?  That explains the Beyer channel imbalances.


Edited by Anaxilus - 8/12/12 at 8:13am
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

Asked and answered 100 times already.

 

Regardless of anyone's opinion about the 'phenomenon' it makes zero sense from a business or economics stand point.  Total loser of an idea.

 

1-Extra actual cost

-Allocating extra personnel and space 

-using extra power and resources

-cost must be passed on to the consumer in the product price leading to

2-Competitiveness

-reduced competition due to increased costs.  Economics will favor the manufacturer that doesn't waste their time and effort and keeps costs low

3-Extra opportunity costs

-loss of income due to product sitting around doing burn-in cycles

-every second your product isn't on the sales floor means someone isn't buying it or is buying a competitor.

4-Market too small

-Beats, ibud users never heard of burn-in and couldn't give a rats a**. 

5-Waste

-why devote resources to a natural phenomenon?  Going to happen anyway from people using it on their own

-controversial topic that could cost as many customers as it gains

6-Attorneys and frivolous lawsuits

-legal liabilities of selling a used product as new

-marketing a claim or effect w/o sufficient data/proof.

7-Warranty

-increased wear could increase warranty claims

-unlike SS gear that doesn't move, a driver does.  It acts as a spring and piston, motion causes wear.

 

People have or do market the gear/service in the aftermarket already.  Nobody in their right mind claims burn-in turns a Beats Solo into a HD800.  Just like a BMW never becomes a Ferrari with burn-in/break-in/rodage.  So why people continue to debate fallacious straw men on both sides is beyond me.  Nvm, it isn't.

About point 1 and 2: I don't buy that extra cost and competitiveness, when you are talking about premium items. Just like cars with engine break-in are reserved for high-end models, this could also apply to high-end headphones. I've seen cans that cost over 2000USD so these cans are ideal for masking the extra actual cost and competitive pricing was never a factor to begin with.

 

About point 3: again, using the car as an analogy, a Ferrari or Porsche sitting in the factory isn't a problem because again, we're not targeting the average Joe Blow headphones.

 

About point 4: The market is small, but then again, I'm sure the market is very small for cans that cost 2000USD, yet the market is there.

 

About point 5: This is probably the point where I've seen the most back-and-forth on the entire Head-Fi forum: is there such a thing as burn-in anyway? But that point is moot as people who would pay this sort of premium for headphones would still have the option to buy headphones that came pre-burned or without pre-burn.

 

About point 6: Wouldn't this apply to car engines just as much, yet this is common practice for - and expected of - high-end sports cars? And there would be no issue with proving because you have done the burn-in at the manufacturing level, regardless of whether this burn-in effect actually exists or is just a placebo effect. Computers go through stress tests all the time to weed out defective products at the manufacturing level yet there is no perceived benefit at all to the end user, apart from the fact that you take for granted that the device works.

 

About point 7: Again, if the cans cost an arm and a leg figuratively, the extra warranty cost could easily be built into the total cost of the headphones. And an engine has many moving parts as well, much more than headphones, yet they routinely break engines in by running them for the equivalent of 5,000kms prior to handing the keys over to the buyer.

 

Finally, you are right about Beats never becoming HD800s. Then again, nobody was implying that in the first place. What was implied though, was that the HD800s can now be bought burned in. If someone who really cares / believes in burn-in and is in the market for HD800s (or AH-D7100, or whatever in that price range), they can now get them and enjoy them out of the box right away, without having to go through the process of looping white and pink and radio and all sorts of other noises for up to 10 days before they can get to listening to their music.

 

I personally don't believe in burn-in, but if I did, and if I were in the market for headphones over 1000USD, then I would say sure, buying pre-burned-in headphones would be an attractive proposition to me.

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