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Headphone burn in.

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  1. lilbukka
    Do you burn in your headphones. If so how and how long?
  2. VNandor
    I do. I call it using my headphones instead of "burning it in" though. Like 3-4 hours a day, give or take.
    candlejack, bigshoe83 and fianbarr like this.
  3. lilbukka
    I found few burn in apps and was wondering if it was worth the effort?
  4. Music Alchemist
    I have owned quite a few headphones and never once noticed any type of burn-in no matter how long they were used. Pink noise didn't change things either. Ear pad break-in can alter the sound noticeably, though. As for claims of mechanical burn-in, it seems more likely that this is simply brain burn-in; that is, becoming accustomed to the sound and perceiving it differently over time.
    WraithApe likes this.
  5. lilbukka
    I'm hearing different thoughts about burn in. The believer and the atheist.
  6. wink
  7. chrismini
    The practice of burning in almost any hi end audio component has been around for decades. The components that require it the most are ones with moving parts. Like speaker drivers and phono cartridges. How long the process takes is totally dependent on the gear your working with. Also on the method used.
    But let me back up. The following will benefit from a proper "burn in" procedure: high-end cables, power amps, preamps, phono stages, DACs, disc transports, in fact almost all high end gear will benefit. This has been in the literature for 25 years. Let me give you folks an example from personal experience. In 2000 when I had a lot of money I purchased a pair of B&W Nautilus 802's for $7000. I have a special disc that had tracks of pink, white, and brown noise. I set my CD transport to play all 3 and set in on repeat. I turned up the volume to a moderately loud level. Too loud to sit in the room as these tones are not real pleasant. I went to work and came home 11 hours later and the improvement was jaw dropping. I continued this until about 100 hours. That's when I noticed that continuing would produce no more benefit.
    Like I said, audiophiles have been burning in their gear for many years. Headphones of all types are just miniature speakers. So to answer, yes burning your new headphones is a vital process. Now you can just play lots of music, but it won't do it thoroughly as playing a disc or music file designed for this purpose. Not only that, but you're burning your cable(s) as well. Even inexpensive stock cables will benefit.
    The last thing to take into consideration is the gear itself. For instance AKG K701's, K702's, and it's reasonable to assume their newer more expensive models, need a minimum of 300 hours of burn in time. In fact I could notice tiny amounts of improvement up to 1000 hours. Please believe me when I tell you this. I have no incentive to be dishonest. However a minimum of 100 hours of burn in time is required for any headphone. My current HiFiMAN HE-400's took about that much time. If you have doubts, listen to you headphones straight out of the box. Then burn them in for 100 hours without listening to them during the process. You will notice a huge improvement.
    Why? Become diaphragms coming from the factory are stiff. So they tend to be bright and harsh. Burning in loosens up said diaphragm and makes them able to respond more accurately.
    There several CD's designed just for this process. The one I used was from Ayre Acoustics. It cost my $12. Simply rip the tracks to your hard drive, set up what tracks you want to use, set them on repeat at a moderately loud volume level and let it play for at least 100 hours. Give them a listen. Then run it for another 50 hours and if you don't notice any improvement, you're done. For gear that's been burned in and has sitting around for a more than a few months, 20 hours will do
    Back before CD's came along, audiophiles would set their tuners to AM, find some static between stations and play that!
    Almost all online shops like Music Direct and Audio Advisor sell these discs. A word of caution: There are companies that sell products that claim to do the job faster and better and they charge a lot of money, up to $100. Don't be bamboozled. Look for the Ayre disc that will do the job and it has tracks that claim to improve the sound of your system.
    Peace everyone and happy holidays.
    warbles and endgame like this.
  8. Currawong Contributor
    It depends on the drivers in the headphones or IEMs, including how long they are tested or run in at the factory. Here's a list of what I know and experienced:
    1. Stax run their headphones in for 2 weeks, so that customers will receive a consistent product.
    2. Symphones (Rhydon) recommended burn-in. At first his drivers have excessively boomy bass but this settles down after some hours of use.
    3. HiFiMan's beta HE1000s (not the final production) had stronger bass at first listen than after some hours of use. The production version didn't seem to change at all with use.
    4. JH Audio JH13FP had a very distinct lack of bass until they had some hours of use, when it suddenly appeared. 
    5. My UERMs, on the other hand, I didn't detect any change.
    6. My UERRs had a very distinct lack of bass until a few hours of use. 
    7. RHA T20 had harshness in the mids and treble until they had some hours of use.
    8. MrSpeakers suggested that his headphones will improve with initial use though my experiences were not of any overt changes.
    9. Shozy Zero: The driver OEM recomments 200 hours of burn-in with classical music, and the amount of bass increased significantly after this time.
    I should add that in all these cases, I had other headphones and IEMs I was using, so while I have most definitely experienced "brain burn-in" as I adapt to a particular sound signature, in the above cases that is most definitely not what was happening.
  9. Brooko Contributor
    OP - I'd suggest you read this article.  Its one in a series of articles from Tyll; Hertsens where he actually measured the changes in a headphone over time:
    Funnily enough it actually references the AKG Q701 which chrismini talks about above (300 hours ....)
    Pay particular attention to the conclusion on page 4:
    And ....
    Shures engineers have also mentioned that their headphones/earphones do not require break-in.  They've measured pairs new, and 100's of hours later - no change.
    Speakers can break in - they have a Spider which actually changes over time - but you're talking large drivers which is why they have the Spider.  Unfortunately many people have assumed that this would also occur in headphones.  The vast majority do not have this part - and as Tyll's measurements show - any changes are so small - that you will get more sonic change from the positioning of the headphone on your head, the compression of the pads, or in the case of IEMs etc - the insertion depth, or angle they are inserted.
    My advice - forget break-in.  Just start enjoying them.
    As far as other gear goes - capacitors can show measurable change over time - but the argument is that if they are at their best brand new - then ageing them isn't really "adding to the experience". Tubes definitely show changes over time.  I would be wary of any advice regarding 100's of hours being necessary for break-in of headphones though - especially if they are talking about big differences.  As for those who talk about cable burn-in ....... let me just suggest to think about what is being claimed (wire breaking in), and let you be your own judge.
    I have great respect for Amos - but would also suggest that our perceptions of sound can change massively one our brains get used to a signature. Something which appears to be bass light - becomes warmer after a few hours.  is the earphone actually changing, or did our perception of the way we hear it change (ie did we just get used to the sound [brain burn-in] over time)?
    This question is a circular one - you'll always get polar opposite views between the believers and sceptics.  I'd just suggest that when scientific controlled tests are introduced - I'd put money on the fact the majority of claimed differences would disappear.
  10. Currawong Contributor
    To add to the above, "IMD products" is what I think is the relevant issue with a lot of what I experienced. IMD, or Inter-Modulation Distortion is unpleasant-sounding distortion. Prior to Tyll doing that test, I had observed that some headphones and IEMs became less harsh-sounding with time. While this doesn't explain the changes in bass I experienced with various IEMs and headphones, it's a start. I had originally discussed sending some headphones to Tyll, specifically ones where the drivers were extensively tested or run in by the manufacturer and it was well-known that the bass changed during initial use, but it didn't end up happening.
  11. jangofett
    I Burn-In my headphones for about 40 hours. I recommend this track:

  12. serman005
    I don't specifically 'burn in' my headphones but I have noticed that some of them seem to sound better--more spacious, better bass, for example--with time. IS that burn-in of the headphones or is that my brain and acoustic apparatus burning in? I don't know. The only way to know for certain would be to do a randomized, double-blind trial and no one is going to fund that. So we continue the debate. In the mean time, I will just enjoy my headphones.
  13. wgrish7
    After burn-in, my Takstar Hi2050's harsh highs disappeared.
    warbles likes this.
  14. serman005
    How long did you burn them in?
  15. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    In headphones, barring headphones that don't get driven at all at the factory, the earpad wear accounts for more of the change in sound. Just go ahead and use them. If you want to break in the drivers then just leave your system playing overnight for a few nights. Not like they'll waste more power than if you left a modern computer running all night downloading.
    bigshoe83 likes this.
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