Audio Device Burn-In Discussion

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by JoeKickass, Oct 31, 2017.

Have you experienced "burn-in"? (Has a new amp or dac sounded better after a few days of listening?)

  1. Yes, I have noticed this.

    5 vote(s)
  2. No, everything sounds the same from the instant you turn it on to the day it dies.

    4 vote(s)
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  1. Andrew LB
    This is absolute nonsense. As someone who has built computer systems and has been an avid overclocker for the better part of 30 years, i can say without any doubt that these components do physically change which is why a large number of people have noted over on that their PCs can no longer run the same clock speeds as they did just a few years earlier without increases in voltages, and in some cases regardless of voltage. Of course your first reaction will be to blame this on heat, but that theory doesn't fly because people like myself have custom loop watercooling systems where the CPU, GPU, or voltage regulators are kept 30-50'c cooler than air cooled computers.
    And nobody here is claiming that these changes have such unpredictability that it would make the design and manufacturing of a product with a consistent resulting sound impossible. You implied that with the intent of showing your argument as the valid one, but the fact that modern PC's have features such as line load calibration, and individual variable voltage regulation to almost every component on a motherboard that is designed to maintain a PC's stability over years of use where capacitors change and degrade, and silicone chips lose efficiency through voltage leakage causing increased heat and thus requiring more voltage.

    I'm not saying this all would directly apply to audio amplifiers, but your analogy of implying it doesn't apply to computer electronics is patently false.
    JoeKickass likes this.
  2. Jimster480
    I've also built and overclocked computers since I was a small child, you are right that capacitor degrade over time (especially with heat) and water cooling certainly doesn't keep capacitors cooler (it keeps them hotter unless you have secondary cooling systems for capacitors directly) and temperatures on water cooled machines are typically only 10-20C lower on modern day machines.
    Technology has changed alot in the past 5 years alone and manufacturing costs have hit all time lows and component precision specs have hit all time highs. You are right in that computers have things like Load line calibration to help with capacitors degrading over a period of time.
    But Amplifiers are not the same, while it is possible that the caps will degrade over years of usage they certainly won't change in <500 hours despite how long you leave it playing music.
  3. Lost Cosmonaut
  4. Jimster480
    Yes basically
  5. Lost Cosmonaut
    Why would a manufacturer of audio equipment produce a product that won't perform at its most optimal upon release?

    You know what the talk of burn-in is? People trying to rationalize why the product they bought is not as satisfactory as they wished.

    And to me, that's a red flag.
    ScOgLiO and Jimster480 like this.
  6. JoeKickass
    Why don't makers of musical instruments produce instruments that are 100% perfectly tuned from the factory? "Not possible" you say? I smell a conspiracy!

    You know what not listening to evidence is? People trying to rationalize their ingrained beliefs instead of learning something new.

    And to me, that's a red flag.
    ev13wt and wingsounds13 like this.
  7. Lost Cosmonaut
    I remember back when Jimster and I used to be boxcar hobos. He played the harmonica and I played the headphone amplifier, which was always out of tune because I never had access to a power outlet.

    Talk about a false equivalency.

    How about YOU learn something new? Like the difference between an instrument that creates sound and one that amplifies electronic signals.
    Jimster480 likes this.
  8. ev13wt
    So, you are saying that non-measurable, teeny tiny differences will create an "effect" that you can actually hear? How does this work?

    "Burn-In" is limited to mechanical devices (not all). In audio, its limited to very hard hung sub drivers for, lets say, a horn sub. The end.

    Burn in in electronics is something manf. do, to sort out devices that will fail within a short time. It is QA. It has nothing to do with the actual electronic performance.

    Smart marketing monkey play on: Mechanical burn in (aka engine break in)
    The warranty, or the return period usually end BEFORE the required / suggested "burn in" is met.

    You can "tune" a crossover. Once its "tuned" - it stays that way. Sorry bud. You are mixing stuff up here. Factors like temperature stretching an instrument and bringing it out of tune - really?

    You are saying "that boat can drive on the street, if you believe in it enough".
    Fact is: It won't.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  9. ev13wt
  10. JoeKickass
    I think everyone who hasn't closed their minds understood what I said before the trolls started up and got this conversation sidelined to a new thread. When we preach absolutes with no room for discussion we close our mind to new ideas.

    Burn-in is a real, common effect, and while it's causes are not known, the number and diversity of factors that affect semiconductor performance mean that physical changes cannot be ruled out.
    I also believe the human mind helps amplify the effect, like a placebo.

    Is burn-in real? Is it placebo? I suspect the answer is a mix of both.
  11. ev13wt

    First off, did you even look at my bathtub link?

    Second: True, but after initial "infant mortality" or even "burn in" things in semiconductor won't change for decades.

    Thrid: A cap with a tolerance of 5% - how is a minute change relevant again? :)
  12. ev13wt

    Sorry bud, the only troll here is you. But we forgive you, as obviously you need some reeducating
  13. bigshot
    If the changes are immeasurable, then they certainly are inaudible. If they are inaudible, they don't matter at all.

    I can see a mechanical device like a transducer "breaking in". But if that shift is large, it's probably going to continue to break in and eventually break down. That's called "wearing out" not "breaking in".

    If you want to know what "burn in" REALLY is, I'll let you in on the secret... Burn in is the excuse retailers use to try to get you to keep something you really don't like until the return for refund window closes. Next time a salesman tells you that something takes a few weeks to break in, ask him to put in writing that if it doesn't break in properly in X weeks, you can still return it for a full refund. Watch him backtrack and start telling you that burn in is very small and maybe inaudible.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
    muddy810, Rach13 and JaeYoon like this.
  14. castleofargh Contributor
    absolutes are often a recipe for false statements, indeed. the issue with burn-in is that it's like synergy and other fancy magical bags that people like to use to "explain" everything they feel but don't understand. so personally I don't like the concept of burn in because it's a lazy choice. ignorance putting a name over a belief as an attempt to legitimize it. that's how I see this term.
    the second issue is that anybody coming and telling me "last month it sounded like this, now it sounds like that", and expecting me to take it as a fact, is vastly overestimating himself. just go read research on eyewitnesses in trials since DNA tests exist for a cold shower on self confidence about memories(not that DNA is as perfect as TV makes us believe but it's another story). and for those who believe vision isn't hearing, echoic memory has been tested to be really good for up to 10s before showing signs of alteration when we describe a sound. and the more a memory is recalled over time, the more the details we find important get emphasized and exaggerated, while the rest blurs out. discussing with people can lead to adding elements that weren't previously in the memory, etc. anyway it's not the main topic, but if the arguments are based on sighted tests and memory, then it becomes the main topic.

    measurements absolutely can confirm significant variations over time, and should be the starting point of any argument about change. making lists of reasons why aliens probably can land on earth undetected, that's a reasonable question after we have evidence of alien landing. before that, it's just crazy people talk. proper evidence makes all the difference and takes precedence over "what ifs".
    yes many things can and will happen, entropy, lifespan of components, manufacturing tolerances, environment(temp, humidity), settings, amount of use... because we have so many variables, we need even more controls over any experiment before jumping to conclusions. 3 months ago I still had almost 10 more degrees in my room in the afternoon. it could be relevant, or not. but if I narrow my vision to the point of only ever considering time passing and "burn in", it can turn into some comedy:
    - all summer my new computer was laggy and noisy, but after a few hundred hours of use, it "burned in" nicely and became quieter and more stable. ^_^ this burn in is called the end of summer.
    Rach13 likes this.
  15. Speedskater
    Skipping over vacuum tubes, electrolytic capacitors and large loudspeaker drivers for the moment.
    No other parts or units have burn-in.
    But there may be a measurable (but not audible) 30 minute warm-up period for the bias to fully stabilize.

    Don't know about vacuum tubes, but with large drivers it's a few minutes and with electrolytic capacitors it could be up to a few hours.
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