The Inherent Value of Burn-In
Sep 11, 2009 at 3:51 PM Post #211 of 372

Steve Eddy

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You bring up a good point. Our brains love patterns, and when presented with a particular pattern over time, wear themselves into something of a rut with that pattern. Change the pattern and it "startles" the brain. But soon it settles into the new pattern, creating a new rut, and the new pattern is now the "norm."

I experienced this very early on when I was about 15 or 16.

As a child, I'd always crank up the bass and treble on the stereo. This had been my "norm" ever since my father bought his first stereo system when I was about 8.

Then I encountered my first "audiophile." He told me no no no. Tone controls are bad. You should set them to "flat."

So when I went home, I zeroed out the tone controls.

It was horrible. It sounded like I was listening to my stereo with a couple of wet mattresses over the speakers.

However I succumbed to a bit of peer pressure and chose to leave it like that. It may sound like ass, but hey, I was doing "the right thing."

But over time, it started sounding not quite so bad. It sounded more natural, and I began noticing things in the music that I'd never noticed before. Cymbals now sounded like they were made out of metal, rather than just bursts of noise. And eventually, it all ended up sounding damn good.

Of course nothing was "burning in." It was just by brain acclimating to the new pattern.

About a month later, just for fun, I cranked the bass and treble all the way up.

It was painful.

So yes, there does exist a known psychological phenomenon that could lead someone to believe that it's the equipment that's changing or burning/breaking in.

And I've always found it curious that 20 years ago, no one was talking about this stuff.

Then somewhere along the line, someone wasn't happy with the sound of the cables they'd just purchased and wanted to return them. The manufacturer told them that the cables hadn't burned in yet. That it would take several weeks until the cables sounded like they were supposed to.

And we've since gone from that to literally EVERYTHING burning in. From loudspeakers to equipment stands.

Again, I find that all rather curious.

BUT...

Just because we know that this psychological phenomenon exists, doesn't in itself preclude their being the possibility that some things do in fact change over time, particularly electromechanical devices where there is at least some rationale behind it as opposed to things like cables and the like.

So I think it would be useful to explore the issue a bit more and not simply dismiss it out of hand.

k
 
Sep 11, 2009 at 11:43 PM Post #212 of 372

Steve Eddy

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For those of you who were witness to the earlier drama between kwkarth and myself, I just wanted to let everyone know that all is now well. In fact, better than well.

My thanks and my gratitude go to kwkarth for extending an olive branch that ultimately led to a very enjoyable telephone conversation between the two of us. All has been forgiven and forgotten, and in the end, better than well as our conversation may not ever have happened had it not been for what came before.

If only all conflicts could end as well.

k
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 1:08 AM Post #213 of 372

aimlink

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We have now experienced the good reason for conflict!
smily_headphones1.gif
I always shy away from the need to keep interactions and threads sterile. It's just not real.

On that note, I was just listening to my SR325is and wondering if the base was getting fuller and more extended. I switched to my Don of base, the D5000 and saw that I was wrong.
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The difference remains the same. My ears were just getting keener for the Grado base delivery.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 4:00 AM Post #214 of 372

Happy Camper

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I stand by a difference in sound. I was breaking in the 701s and an OTL amp at the same time. I let it run non-stop for twenty-one days. I travel during the week so I got to listen over the weekend or maybe at night a few times during this time. At first I wasn't that impressed. On the third weekend, I sat down for the evening listening and was shocked at how much more open and detailed the soundstage was and bass weight got noticeably better from out of the box. I recall staying up much of that weekend in love with my rig. Was it the 701s, the caps in the amp, I don't know. I do know I heard a difference.

I wasn't listening every night to get acclimated to the sound. I was able to step in during the process to hear changes. I also heard changes with power cord, ICs and tubes.

We are all skeptics until an experience makes us challenge our biases and I was as set in my beliefs as the next guy. But we have to explore to discover. Followers never experience discoveries. Don't be led, lead.

On a side note.

K, if you sell high end gear and not heard any differences, how do you sell said product? How do you pitch your wares and how do you choose your product lines?
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 4:47 AM Post #215 of 372

Steve Eddy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Camper /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I wasn't listening every night to get acclimated to the sound. I was able to step in during the process to hear changes. I also heard changes with power cord, ICs and tubes.


But there are people who claim to hear differences with virtually anything you care to name, up to and including such things as photographs in their freezers, teleportation tweaks, etc.

There is no shortage of people claiming to have heard differences. But that in itself doesn't establish that the differences heard, or rather perceived, had anything to do with the thing in question.

We know that people are prone to perceiving differences even when there are no differences to actually be heard. This leaves us with an ambiguity with regard to getting at the truth and all the wishful thinking in the world won't make that ambiguity go away.

Quote:

We are all skeptics until an experience makes us challenge our biases and I was as set in my beliefs as the next guy. But we have to explore to discover. Followers never experience discoveries. Don't be led, lead.


Lead who, and to where exactly?

Just saying you hear some difference or other doesn't lead anyone anywhere in particular. People have been doing that for decades, but where has it got us? We're still here having the same debates that were being argued 25 years ago.

Quote:

K, if you sell high end gear and not heard any differences, how do you sell said product?


I perceive differences just as many others do.

What I don't do is assume that those differences are due to actual audible differences. Because I don't know with enough certainty that they are or they aren't. At least with regard to subtle things where it hasn't been shown that differences exist of a magnitude that's within currently known thresholds of audibility.

The two things I do know however is that humans are prone to perceiving differences even when there are no actual differences, and that I am human.

And at the end of the day, I simply don't care exactly why something may sound different or better or worse to me. At the end of the day all I care about is my own subjective pleasure and enjoyment.

Quote:

How do you pitch your wares...


I keep it pretty simple. I just stick to this is what it is, this is how it's made and what it's made with, and this is the price I'm asking for it.

I don't make up a bunch of silly acronyms, or try and feed people any sort of technobabble ******** or a bunch of purple prose about "how it sounds."

Quote:

...and how do you choose your product lines?


I don't have any lines. I sell what I design and manufacture. And I make my choices in a holistic fashion which includes sonics, aesthetics, philosophy, etc. and what I'm ultimately the most satisfied with at the end of the day.

k
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 1:59 PM Post #217 of 372

fjf

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Anyone has seen any measurements of speakers or headphones changing during break-in?. Those are supposed to have it because of the moving parts. I don't believe there is anything but psychological acclimatization, but objective measurements would change my mind.
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 2:55 PM Post #218 of 372

Steve Eddy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Camper /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thank you K for a thoughtful response.


You're welcome.

And let's be careful about getting too nicey nicey here. Some folks might begin to think there's something awry with the universe.
atsmile.gif


k
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 5:08 AM Post #219 of 372

kwkarth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fjf /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Anyone has seen any measurements of speakers or headphones changing during break-in?. Those are supposed to have it because of the moving parts. I don't believe there is anything but psychological acclimatization, but objective measurements would change my mind.


Read spinali's article.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 11:25 AM Post #220 of 372

JimVincible

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fjf /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Anyone has seen any measurements of speakers or headphones changing during break-in?. Those are supposed to have it because of the moving parts. I don't believe there is anything but psychological acclimatization, but objective measurements would change my mind.


I think that a lot of burn-in is mental. However, it varies hugely depending on the headphone/speaker.

Case in point: My UE Super.fi 5 Pros.
When I bought them, songs like Coldplay's "Don't Panic" (in lossless) with drawn-out S's were actually painful to listen to (sillabance.) The lyrics in the beginning sounded like "BoneSSSS SSSSinking like SSSStoneSSSS..." and I literally could not listen to it.
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However, after I burned them in with various playlists for two days, they completely smoothed out.

I'm no audiophile, I'm just a music lover that's interested in technology, but the difference was unmistakable; even to my untrained ears. Burn-in transformed these IEMs from a very painful experience to a very pleasurable one, they went from cold and harsh to warm and smooth.

PS
I see some other discussion has been going on, this is in response to the OP and the above quote.
wink.gif


j
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 5:18 PM Post #221 of 372

kwkarth

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Sep 13, 2009 at 10:04 PM Post #223 of 372

Steve Eddy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Fido2 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
COOL kwkarth. Some actual "evidence" of break-in/burn-in or whatever. What now ye gainsayers?


I'd say those Audax drivers would make for some pretty uncomfortable headphones.
atsmile.gif


k
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 10:28 PM Post #224 of 372

xnor

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Koyaan I. Sqatsi /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'd say those Audax drivers would make for some pretty uncomfortable headphones.
atsmile.gif


k



Hahahaha, those would make for amazing basshead headphones.
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Sep 13, 2009 at 10:42 PM Post #225 of 372

Fido2

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Koyaan I. Sqatsi /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'd say those Audax drivers would make for some pretty uncomfortable headphones.
atsmile.gif


k



lol. I'd buy a pair. No question. hehehehe
 

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