Breaking in headphones
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kkfan

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Hi all!

Some say breaking in headphones is a real science while others claim it is merely the process of the listener getting used to the sound signature.

If it is a real science, then I would think the listener should be able to listen once, break in the headphones while NOT using them, and then at the end of the break-in period, be able to notice a difference. Do you agree?

For the purpose of break-in, would you recommend playing white/pink noise as opposed to playing music?

Where can I get recorded white/pink noise?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Hellbishop

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From my own experiances with headphones using them on a consistent basis since 2004 i believe breaking them in does make a difference. Its not a night and day difference most of the time. Usually its a nice noticeable change after the first eight hours to two weeks then it becomes very subtle to notice. After a year i've noticed a major difference. My first Koss UR40 from 2004 i stopped using for five years when i came back to it the sound was like a completely different headphone with a very buetiful crystal clear windlike treble quality.
 
The one headphone i noticed a major difference right away after an eight hour break in was the Koss Pro 4AA. At first they were scratchy and very bright but after a night of running them for five hours straight with music they became one of the most detailed neutral yet treble focused headphones i have heard.
 
When using new headphones i just listen to them normally and let burn in do its thing. This way i can appreciate the changes more and see what actually is different.
 
My routine is-
Out of the box, listening to them at a low to normal volume while gaming,movie watching,music listening. From there letting them run for five to eight hours during the night playing music at just above normal volume. After that i give them at least a five hour rest period to let things settle.
 
I prefer using music instead of pink or white noise. I think it might be better for the headphones playing stuff you listen to instead of something you normally wouldnt. I do listen to pink and white noise at times to block out annoying distractions. I especially love brown noise which isnt harsh, blocks out all environmental sounds even footsteps above me and construction sounds below.
 
Just google white pink brown noise and you'll come up with a ton of sites that allow you to download quality noise :D  Dont pay for it though thats just someone trying to get over.
 
Hope my ramblings were of some help. Cheers :)
 
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aak57

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You know, I don't think it'd be that difficult to set up a decent test.  Just get a few pairs of something like the Superlux HD681s (which are highly recommended to be burned in).  Then burn-in and don't burn-in however many you see fit, and give them to some audiophiles to listen to and see if they can identify any difference.  I mention the 681s primarily because they're cheap so you could get a number of them to try and factor out individual fluctuations. 
 
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p a t r i c k

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If you wish to test out if break in makes any perceptible difference then I think you need to do quite a lot more than you have planned.
 
The problem is that the human hearing is not fixed like a microphone, when we listen to things we can change focus on what aspects of sound that we are listening to. This is a wonderful thing but it also makes us very susceptible to suggestion and auto-suggestion.
 
Really I think that you would need two pairs of headphones. One pair you would "break in" then you would do a double blind listening tests with these headphones.
 
For it to be really a valid test I think it would need to be carried out over a number of pairs of headphones to reduce the impact of the differences between each headphone.
 
It is quite a lot of work.
 
I think that it would be great if the various Hi Fi publications would undertake these kinds of tests. All they wish to do is write endless "tests" of audio equipment which are just the impressions of a reviewer who takes no account for the influence of suggestion or auto-suggestion on his/her listening experience.
 
In my signature I have a link to a short article on suggestion and auto-suggestion.
 
 
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I  t h o u g h t  s o m e t i m e  a g o  t y l l  d i d  a n  a r t i c l e  o n  b u r n  i n  w i t h  h i s  m e a s u r e m e n t  t h e r e a r e  m i n o r  c h a n g e s .
 
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Parall3l

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The movement of the pads and headbands make a pretty big difference, it is possible that burn-in is in fact just the pads changing.
 
Tyll's burn-in test, as well as the test of others, show that there is either no difference, or the difference is inconsistant.
 
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obobskivich

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The movement of the pads and headbands make a pretty big difference, it is possible that burn-in is in fact just the pads changing.

Tyll's burn-in test, as well as the test of others, show that there is either no difference, or the difference is inconsistant.

+1. And we have this thread like once a month. :xf_eek: (Not that it isn't a discussion worth having).

The tl;dr version is that earpads, headbands, etc will absolutely change over time, and that pads make a big difference for sound. Additionally, the listener will change over time, and that will also make a big difference. As far as "you should be able to burn them in and then listen, and notice the difference" - not really, unless the difference was SUBSTANTIAL; subtle/nuanced differences would be harder to detect in such a manner (and as Tyll's various measurement attempts have shown, the differences (if any) are likely to be very minor over time).
 
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themadride

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As someone who is just starting this adventure, it makes sense to me that it would have a lot to do with the pads.

If the quality of the lows is so dependent on the proper seal of the pads, and the pads need to conform to the subtle differences in the shapes of our individual heads, then it makes sense that the lows would especially improve after a period of wearing.
 
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newphones

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There's so little test data (actually none) that supports this phenomenon, logically, I have to chalk this one up as a placebo effect.
 
Having said that, I'm breaking in a pair of 'phones anyway just in case there is an effect. :)
 
Will report back on a pair of very lightly used koss headphones. I've been beraking them in at low to med. volumes over the past 3 days (perhaps 30 hours total). 
 
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From my personal experience, I don't think there is a burn-in. I had two pairs of V-Moda M100. One M100 I played for 2 weeks straight and the other one I didn't touch. I connected them both to the same source, closed my eyes, and shuffled the M100s in front of me.
 
Then, I did a double blind listening test and an A/B direct comparison... I could not hear any discernible difference between them and I could not pick out one from the other.
 
For people who believe in the burn-in, there is a really simple test to do. Simply purchase another pair of one of your favorite headphones from a retailer with a good return policy and do the same test I did. If you can consistently pick out the "burnt-in" headphones from the new headphones with your eyes closed  (let's say at least 7/10 times), then perhaps there some truth to burn-in.
 
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My Grado 325i's sounded better and better over time....less bright...but I am not sure what to attribute that too.
 
I swear after a few hundred hours they kept sounding better and better
 
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The manual for the HE-400 says it needs about 150 hours break in for best sound quality.
I'm taking their word, but I'll get to that with normal everyday usage. 

 
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Quote:
The manual for the HE-400 says it needs about 150 hours break in for best sound quality.
I'm taking their word, but I'll get to that with normal everyday usage. 
Yea, I broke my 325i's in on everyday usage of AC/DC....Zeppelin....Clapton....Pink Floyd......Cheap Trick....Ect. 

 
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Quote:
My Grado 325i's sounded better and better over time....less bright...but I am not sure what to attribute that too.
 
I swear after a few hundred hours they kept sounding better and better
 
It could be your ears dying from the treble and having to turn up the volume to compensate for the lack of isolation plus noisy environment.
 
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"Break in" is a myth for some headphones and not a myth for others.
 
Some headphones demand break in and can sound pretty dreadful straight out of the box.
 
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