Can the burn-in skeptics leave us alone?
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liamstrain

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The question is not whether or not a user hears a difference (or at least believes they hear a difference). The question is *why* they do. And while I personally do believe "burn in" could be a factor - it has not yet been shown scientifically to be*. The fact that there is real debate, legitimate debate, over the science behind the claims, is why it cannot be compared to "proving light exists to a blind person." The skeptics do not have their head in the sand, dogmatically saying no, against their own ears and mounds of evidence. They are waiting for the actual evidence (anecdotes do not count). 
 
 
*I have not seen any tests to date that indicate burn in that could be detected beyond normal sample variation between two of the same headphone. Other tests have raised doubts over physical/measurable changes to the phone itself, and indicate that it is more likely physical/psychological changes in the listener are at work - at least in part. 
 
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I'd be interested to see tests with the Ultrasone hp's that people claim sound harsh at first but lose this with use. I have difficulty imagining that people could tune out harshness in their minds, but that is because it annoys me so much. 
 
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post-7889772
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Head Injury

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Quote:
I'd be interested to see tests with the Ultrasone hp's that people claim sound harsh at first but lose this with use. I have difficulty imagining that people could tune out harshness in their minds, but that is because it annoys me so much. 

I'd actually expect harshness to be something we adjust to quickly. If you're used to it, you don't really notice it until you hear music without it. I was raised an audiophile on Grados and the Hifiman RE0, I know 

 
I'd like to see a burn in study using waterfall plots like purrin's. Improved ringing could account for loss of harshness and perceived brightness.
 
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post-7889779
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danroche

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Throughout my life I've listened to music for extended periods through dozens if not hundreds of different headphones. Almost all of these headphones have had a somewhat different sound to them, and whenever I would start listening to headphone pair B after months of listening to A, they would sound different and often "wrong", as they didn't match to the particular frequency response curve I was used to at the time.
 
Over time, I'd get used to headphone pair B, and they gradually wouldn't sound strange to me anymore. If I then went back to A, even for a moment, then THEY would sound strange, as they would be out of calibration with the kind of sound I considered normal and acceptable audio. It's worth noting that headphones would never go from sounding "right" to "wrong" over time - I'd just get used to them and they'd represent more and more what "right" was in my head.
 
I'm not trying to say universally that the example above tells the story of headphone burn-in, or explains why people experience changes in their headphones over time, but isn't an incredibly plausible explanation that the "change in sound" is a change in one's perception or "taste" in sound shifting over time? Why is that such a dramatic or blasphemous explanation that it must be dismissed altogether?
 
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Knowing one is true does not rule out the other. That's the law of non-mutual exclusivity (made up).
 
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Kind of like trying to prove the sun rises every morning to a person who insists on wearing a bucket over their head, or is actually blind :\


That's hilarious.
 
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upstateguy

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Quote:
Agreed. Though I count myself a skeptic - there is a "sound science" subforum where the evidences for and against can and should be discussed. 
 
With that said - I do reserve the right to suggest that something is still in question, when someone is advocating (expensive) nonsense to someone who clearly hasn't been exposed to all the dangers of snake oil salesmen in the community yet. 

+1
 

 
Quote:
Are you're asking us to accept burn-in as fact and shut down debate?
Why don't you contact a manufacturer and see if one will give you a definitive yes or no as to whether their products change over time?
After all, manufacturers spend - literally - years developing products. They are run for tens of thousands of hours before hitting market. Possibly longer. Hundreds, if not thousands, of tests are made of dozens of drivers with fine equipment. The products undergo a rigorous QC to make sure they are consistent and will be manufactured consistently at scale.
So if you're looking to prove yourself right, see if you can get a manufacturer to admit that burn-in exists. If one admits burn-in is real, follow up by asking why burn-in is not done at the factory. Further, ask them how they would handle a warranty claim where someone was happy with the product for the first 300 hours, then did not like the way they changed.
That would settle it. Precision tests from the manufacturer would unquestionably demonstrate burn-in.
Also, don't bring Godwin's Law into this. That's not only a ridiculous comparison, it's a vicious insult to the people who lived (and died) with that horror. Askin questions ain't persecution. Tough questions are the path to truth. Tough answers, especially when you're emotionally involved in an argument, are the path to wisdom. Give some thought to the very real possibility that you are wrong.
And I really think you should talk to some manufacturers. See if they'll back you up. And if you find some tough answers, accept them.

+1
 

 
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Have you guys ever thought that it might be that some materials used in some headphones alter with use, but some don't? What I mean to say is that the idea that the sound of headphones change over time is neither fact or false, but is something that needs research for individual models?


+1


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The problem isn't so much whether burn-in exists, but the utterly ridiculous differences attributed to it. The Innerfidelity test established, with the AKG flagships no less (supposedly a headphone which is transformed by burn in) a subtle difference that required a bit of listening practise to absolutely reliably distinguish.*
 
Tyll did not say "There was an utter transformation in the bass, mids, soundstage, treble, detail and PRAT and I distinguished it in under 2 seconds standing on my head."
 
 
*If you take the test to demonstrate that - all it conclusively shows is that Tyll can distinguish two headphones. Manufacturing variances and the like are hard to account for.
 
 
 


+1
 
 
 
But the bottom line is that very few are trying to rip people off with headphone burn in products, so why does it matter?
 
It changed, it didn't change, I think it changed but I can't prove it....... big deal.
 
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liamstrain

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Quote:
But the bottom line is that very few are trying to rip people off with headphone burn in products, so why does it matter?

That's true in general. However - with short return periods for some sellers - advising someone that they need 100+ hours of burn-in to get a sound they like (or may not still) can cause them to miss their window to return a product with which they really are not happy. 
 
I also have a categorical dislike of people passing off as a patently obvious fact - something which is not (it builds a community tolerance for BS, which can in turn, allow the snake oil to sneak in under the same guise). But that's my own hangup. :D
 
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Quote:
I'd be interested to see tests with the Ultrasone hp's that people claim sound harsh at first but lose this with use. I have difficulty imagining that people could tune out harshness in their minds, but that is because it annoys me so much. 

 
I know my shure srh840 are not considered harsh to most but when i first received them they sounded very harsh to me. Over time they smoothed out and became tolerable. I then switch over to my speakers for a few days and went back to my headphones. After doing that my shure's not only sounded very harsh but they also sounded strange to me. Very closed in compared to speakers. Now i understand most headphones will be harsh and i now live with it and deal with it. It used to bug me a lot until i bought grados and learned to deal with it. It's a sacrifice i make for very fun treble.
 
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Quote:
That's true in general. However - with short return periods for some sellers - advising someone that they need 100+ hours of burn-in to get a sound they like (or may not still) can cause them to miss their window to return a product with which they really are not happy. 
 
I also have a categorical dislike of people passing off as a patently obvious fact - something which is not (it builds a community tolerance for BS, which can in turn, allow the snake oil to sneak in under the same guise). But that's my own hangup. :D


I suppose that if you don't like the way a headphone sounds, you should return it, if you can and get one that you do like.
 
I have noticed, over the years, that much of the variation/complaints about headphone sound signatures comes from headphones purchased on the secondary market.
 
As a rule I will not buy used headphones.  You never know how they were used or abused. 
 
And guys, if you have to buy used headphones, get some new ear pads and disinfect everything that could touch your hair, skin, and hands.
 
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Quote:
I suppose that if you don't like the way a headphone sounds, you should return it, if you can and get one that you do like.
 
I have noticed, over the years, that much of the variation/complaints about headphone sound signatures comes from headphones purchased on the secondary market.
 
As a rule I will not buy used headphones.  You never know how they were used or abused. 
 
And guys, if you have to buy used headphones, get some new ear pads and disinfect everything that could touch your hair, skin, and hands.

I think thats overreacting a little there my friend.
 
 
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I think thats overreacting a little there my friend.
 


That would depend on the headphones you got, if you got 20 year old vintage cans with pads that appear yellow when they are supposed to be white, theres something wrong 

 
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Although I am a skeptic of burn in, I do perform burn in when I get my cans, unless I really want to hear them. IMO burn in is a hypothesis based on many people's observations. I do feel a difference between the treble volume on my headphones after 100 hours of use although I can not say for sure whether its my brain or burn in.
 
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Quote:
That would depend on the headphones you got, if you got 20 year old vintage cans with pads that appear yellow when they are supposed to be white, theres something wrong 


Ya well your most likely not going to be buying vintage 20 year old yellow earpad headphones will you. I purchased used m50s and and they had little use supposedly and the pics looked really good. I think people worry to much about headphones and personal hygiene. But lets keep this on topic.
 
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Quote:
 But lets keep this on topic.


Sure, sorry for the slight derailing 

So what exactly is burn in supposed to be doing ? I haven't seen a summary on the effects of burn in before, is it supposed to vary between different cans ?
 
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Quote:
Sure, sorry for the slight derailing 

So what exactly is burn in supposed to be doing ? I haven't seen a summary on the effects of burn in before, is it supposed to vary between different cans ?


I think the idea is that a driver is a moving piece of equipment it takes a bit of use to break in if you will. Kind of like when you buy shoes and they are uncomfortable when you buy them but after use they break into your foot shape. The entire idea makes sense i just don't by it entirely as i fail to hear of cases where headphones burned in wrong vs right. How many times do you hear the phrase (sound stage decreased after burn in and the highs have become muffled) Rarely ever. I believe it is mostly just your brain getting used to the sound of the headphones. I don't believe burn in is impossible i just don't see enough evidence to back up the theory. I'm a skeptic at heart no matter what it is i am researching. I was always skeptical of beats.
 
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