Breaking-in headphones, the final verdict!
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Han Bao Quan

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So, I'm not sure if anyone has posted this, but Tyll over at Innerfidelity did an article on breaking-in headphones. It's quite an interesting read.
 
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/measurement-and-audibility-headphone-break
 
 
tl;dr:
 
 
"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."
 
 
 
 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.  


 
So there you have it. 
 
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Head Injury

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I think it's safe to assume that a two month old article on such a controversial topic by as well respected and well known a man as Tyll on site that's very useful for objective data has already been discussed quite a bit.
 
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musicisthekey

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I believe in a headphone breaking-in. In my experience, it can take somewhere between 50-100 hours depending on the cans.
 
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Chris J

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I think it's safe to assume that a two month old article on such a controversial topic by as well respected and well known a man as Tyll on site that's very useful for objective data has already been discussed quite a bit.

I guess that explains why so many Head-fi-ers swear that their headphones really do break in.
 
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Head Injury

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Quote:
I guess that explains why so many Head-fi-ers swear that their headphones really do break in.

It's been discussed, doesn't mean it's been taken to heart.
 
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Chris J

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It isn't as cut-and-dried as you want to think. From the same article:

Ka-ching! Here we can see a clear downward trend of IMD products over time. While the data is a bit noisy, all IMD products are reducing in level about 1.5dB each over the course of the test. I included IMD in the test because I thought that the type of differences I've heard over time might be due to this type of distortion.

Music is made of a multitude of frequencies. When the entire spectrum of music suffers from intermodulation distortion producing a sea of IMD products some 60dB down, I suspect it can be clearly audible. Reducing the level of this background crud 1 or 2 dB might certainly effect the subjective experience. I think it's extremely important to recognize that the perceptions of my measurement system in objective metrics may be on a completely different scale than that of the observer in the subjective experience.

How can you measure beauty?

The difference between a very good violin player and a truly great player is not objectively large. The devil is in the details; it's small subtleties that separate the two. So while the objectively measurable difference between the two players might be small, it may make the difference between an ecstatic and a merely pleasant listening experience to the human observer.

So, while headphones change little over time, their ability to deliver pleasure may improve markedly. Easily hearing the differences I've so often heard before 13 out of 15 times in a simple blind test proved to me this is a subtle, but important distinction.

As he says, I've never heard night and day differences, but I have heard subtle changes with regards to speakers and headphones (none with amps, cables, or anything else). With some moving-coil headphones, the changes in the diaphragm are more obvious as time goes by. It varies depending on design and size, I suppose.
 
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IMO you should just buy them and put them on your head and enjoy the music.
 
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Ser182

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All electronics go through burn in. Some cans more than others see improvements. Some have been broken in longer during production. I am breaking in new cans now. I have a pair that I bought back in November and they sound very different than the new pair. Very different.
 
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tell me if i'm right

when you break it in, it's mainly the loosing up of moving parts. like if you keep bending a wire it becomes more flexible
 
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Quote:
tell me if i'm right
when you break it in, it's mainly the loosing up of moving parts. like if you keep bending a wire it becomes more flexible

Nope, if the diaphragm and voice coil in a headphone driver loosen up it's broken. Headphone drivers are not like loudspeaker drivers, there's no big movement, actually there's hardly any movement at all unless you really crank the volume.
 
 
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cdnaudiophile

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Sorry but the he contradicts himself here:
 
 
 

 
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/testing-audibility-break-effects
 
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xnor

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Quote:
Sorry but the he contradicts himself here

I bet one can hear differences even between a non-burned-in white (K701) and another non-burned-in K701 pair. Every headphone measures differently even if it's from the same model range.
 
What I'm saying is that for this test it didn't matter if the green pair was burned in or not, audible differences are there regardless. Therefore, this test doesn't proof that burn-in causes audible differences.
 
Btw: I'm repeating myself here, this has been discussed before.
 
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dustdevil

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Is it possible that he can see which pair he is wearing by the reflection on the monitor of the notebook? 
 
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I believe in subtle differences, and your ear getting used to the sound signature of the headphone's as well as your music being played ON that headphone. It's a combonation of all of those including using your headphone's with different devices that may cause such a large perception of change as burn in. 
 
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