Edited by raymond1035 - 6/3/14 at 7:27pm
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Edited by raymond1035 - 6/3/14 at 7:27pm
Burn in is a myth. Just listen to music.
Get a clue
Because you're in the science section - you're more likely to get people questioning if break-in / burn-in actually exists, and if it exists - is it audible (ie would you be wasting your time trying to burn your headphones in).
The best article I've seen on the subject (it's only 4 pages long, so well worth taking the time to read) is from Tyll Hertsens from Innerfidelity (http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/measurement-and-audibility-headphone-break). Tyll measured a new set of Q701's over a period of 300+ hours to see if he could ascertain any measurable (and audible differences). The AKGs are often quoted by believers as needing a long break-in period, and have been said by some to change dramatically. Tyll pretty much debunked that with his tests.
His conclusion from the final page .....
Have I shown that break-in exists? No. I wish I could say the slowly descending IMD products is clear evidence ... but it's not. Who knows what that measurement represents. I do think, however, that if break-in is measurable, it would be this type of measurement that would show it. I'm pretty happy something showed up at all.
Have I shown that break-in doesn't exist and is not measurable? No. The slight changes around 9kHz on the CSD plots, and the significant change in IMD products over time do indicate that something is happening, and happening in a way that seems to me to be properly indicative of the things I've heard with break-in effects. I think the nay-sayers need to acknowledge something might be happening here.
The one thing I think I have proved, however, is that if break-in does exist, it is not a large effect. When people talk about night and day changes in headphones with break-in, they are exaggerating. This data clearly shows that the AKG Q701 --- a headphone widely believed to change markedly with break-in --- does not change much much over time.
My hiking boots break-in; my sneakers break-in, too. But my hiking boots aren't going to turn into sneakers over time. This idea that you simply must let headphones break-in before you know what they are going to sound like is a myth. And this data busts it.
Until then, you can unbox you new headphones and have a listen without angst. You'll be hearing pretty much how they will forever sound. If you notice they're a bit irritating in the mid-treble, you might find that settles out somewhat with use and the headphones may deliver a mildly more pleasant listening experience.
If you do want to break-in your cans, I suggest pink noise at a slightly louder than normal listening level. If you don't have a pink noise track, just play music. If they sound lousy out of the box, but they start sounding a lot better as you listen to them over time, it's your amazingly versatile brain figuring out how to cope with the world.
The miracle is in your head ... not in the headphones.
From my own personal experience with multiple headphones, I've never noticed any change over time that could be attributable to burn in. I do suggest that the burn-in people often talk about is more likely to be a combination of:
- headphone position on the head
- seal (as the pads wear in and mold to your head shape over time)
- pads wearing down, and the drivers getting slightly closer to your ears
All of these things can change frequency response slightly.
If you want to believe in burn-in, go right ahead. Speakers do break in - but this is the spider in the speaker settling over time (known and documented phenomenon). Headphones don't have the spider - so they won't be breaking in, and as Tyll suggests the changes he measured over time are inconclusive and too small to be significantly audible. But if it makes you feel better, take his advice and use pink noise at slightly louder than normal listening. It won't hurt anything.
But please recognise that any significant change is actually in your head.
Like Bigshot suggests - just listen to the music, and enjoy
If headphones burn in, they are likely to continue to burn in and shift into a mess.
What is it you're trying to burn in?
For headphones and IEMs, there is not much to suggest that there would be appreciable changes in sound, and the (not so comprehensive) evidence out there doesn't even seem to indicate significant effects, if any. Even if burn in makes some difference, we don't have any real starting point or basis for which to recommend one method over another. In other words, we're very far from being able to say something like method A produces this result, method B produces this other result that's different, and therefore method A is preferred over method B.
All that can be really said for sure is that any effect, if it exists at all, does so at a very small magnitude for all sets tested with before/after data out there. There are much greater influences on the sound quality that are worth more of your attention.
The advice presented so far is good. Anyway, if you do anything, just don't run really really loud sounds through headphones, more than they can handle. Maybe you could measure some definite burn-in from frying the drivers, but I'm not sure that's the kind of burn in you want. (though good luck doing that off an iPod)
I don't know why you guys don't give him the straight dope. The best signal for headphone burn in is a recording of................................wood burning in a fireplace. Burn in sound.
If you don't have the best version this one is pretty good on youtube. You get the low level, whoosh, and continuously variable signal with sporadic, sharp, transient rich crackling. Not only that the sound playing in the background is soothing. Most especially in the winter. This video is 3 hours which of course could be looped.
Sometimes people try and complicate something so simple. Record the sound of burning for burn in. I mean really!!!! How hard was that.