Jun 2, 201612711 views

Audio Myths... A mostly civilized discussion

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OK before this even begins.. STOP!
Many myths have existed for many years and while I am sure heated debate will arise I want to ask everyone to respect the rules of these forums. Act civilized. State your point of view, be open to other peoples point of view and hopefully we can at least UNDERSTAND where people are coming from and not just arguing for the sheer joy of it.
I guess I will start.
HEADPHONE and SPEAKER BURN-IN
A topic that comes up for me pretty often and yes.. I do think something happens when you take a BRAND NEW off the assembly line moving driver dynamic speaker with suspensions and surrounds and webbing and run it for X hours. Now I am not saying you have to do this. It may not even benefit you or if there is a change it might be so small it isn't worth even thinking about. But Physics dictates if a precision device has a job of moving hundredths of a millimeter then I expect if it gets used initially then the moving fabric, foam and rubber parts may stretch and wear and perform differently then bone dry stock parts that have never moved before.
So can it be real? I say yes. Can it be measured. It should be possible. Is it worth fighting over? Of course not. Many people attribute the change you "hear" during burn-in to the human ear simply adapting to the sound. Like listening to a tone for long enough that it disappears. But my usual advice is .. "If you like it out of the box, enjoy" I usually just put headphone and speakers I dislike though the hours of hard running, away from my ears and then assess later.

I will let you guys take over the next topic, Tone Arms, Headphone Cables, Interconnects, Cable Risers, Tubes..
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awoodbri, Yakov250, and 83 others
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Aren't components designed with fresh parts ... or do they burn in parts before trying them ... how can they do that with hundreds of different samples? Doubting it ....
inmytaxi
I know that when you buy a subwoofer that has T/S specs that they've broke in the sub they pulled the specs off of. They don't take a new sub and pull the specs off of it.
Look, in my know-it-all Absolute Sound-oriented youth, I doubted the whole "burn-in" thing until w/each new set of planar dynamic transducers I'd own, I learned *with no doubt* each set's sound characteristics changed over 1st couple weeks use. Peeps can argue all they want whether or not "burn-in" is real but for this audiophile transducer burn-in is an absolute necessity before I'll post a review. Thanks for reading, all!
Want to prove or disprove burn in? Simple, take a new out of the box driver and pull the T/S specs for it, then after a couple hundred hours of play time do it again. If the T/S specs don't change in an appreciable way I will eat my hat. This is why subwoofer builders suggest breaking in new subs before pulling the T/S specs to run through a box design program. What sounds good on a new sub may be less than optimal on the same sub with a few hundred hours of play on it and the suspension has limbered up and the vas, qms, qts and fs have all shifted a good bit. While I agree that it's less of an issue with smaller limited range drivers such as sealed back mids and tweeters that don't do a lot of long excursion, woofers and full range drivers (even headphone drivers) are going to see a change in their sonic signature after a few million cycles of use. Sorry to be replying so late after the initial post but I did not see it until today.
(Edited)
"Bryston takes pride in using the highest-grade components sourced locally while retaining long-term employees, many of which have been with the company for over 20 years. Before leaving the factory, all products receive a certificate signed by a technician, indicating a perfect score during 100 hours of burn-in and stress testing. To back up its quality claims, Bryston provides an unprecedented 20-year warranty on all analog products." Don't kill the messager. Any doubt, please contact James Tanner who designs the SST amplifier lines hence Bryston use SST after his name.
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Ok 1rst of all, Zeos Thx for your videos! I'm going to hask something that many people will see as a very strange question but I hope I'm not opening a can of worms: TOPIC: Só I heard that some people say that if you put spheres under your amplyfiers in some cases it will make the Amp sound better. The ideia is that the power transformer (don't know the correct term for it) Creates movimet energy that it can not get rid of because the Amp its stable in the table (etc). Só... If you put spheres under the Amp, he can get rid of this energy and it should make it sound better according to some people. Dose anyone has any actually experienced this and can inform us about it? Shuld be noted that I'm referring to big /heavy power amps, I don't think this would apply to some small / headphone amps. Thx guys
Headphone break-in is measurable.
Yes Burning in is real but you to remember many people do not have the hearing to hear the difference. Just like some people can not hear the difference when swapping vacuum tube or the difference between compressed and non- compressed music. Just a blind person can run their fingers over a build and instantly tell a one from a ten dollar build. Some people don’t have the experience to hear the beautiful different between class A amplifiers and class D amplifiers it’s one of those sad things in life like being born colored blind. You can’t explain the beautiful difference the bright red rose 🌹 with the blue sky background when all they see is everything is gray their whole like.
Who thinks headphone burning is BS never heard Ultrasone Edition 5 or Beyerdynamic T5p straight out of the box and then after 150 hours (Ultrasone 250 hours) of breaking in. They sound pretty crap :) And it is not my brain, because I never listen the first 100 hours to the headphones, just sampling for a few minutes after around 50 hours. You can hear the base are muddy not defined. Treble are hot and mids all over the place at the beginning. Audeze probably does some burn in, because they sound good out of the box, though I think 50-70 hours still give them a bit of the nudge, but so far had just one pair of Audeze cans completely new. Cables also do make difference, but I agree some companies want brutal money for them and you can get them for cheaper from smaller companies and still get the same quality. I get mine from Matt from Forza Audio Works. Noir MKII really made Ultrasone Edition 5 a great headphones by taming the hot highs and making the bass nicely textured and deep. Don't go for silver if you don't like hot highs! Personally I did not like silver hybrid cable even for dark Audeze headphones, but a lot of people love the combination. Cable burning also is a must with some cables. Done the same test. If you ever buy some cable and it sounds crap, just close your headphones for a week and feed it with Deep Purple complete discography in a loop:)
Marcel_V
As excellent is your advice re looping Deep Purple, I strongly recommend Purist Audio Design's Luminist System Enhancer.  Breaks in an entire system within 5 hours...tunes up your system within 70 minutes if it's already broken in. The before-and-after difference is anything but subtle.
So much of this has been vigorously debated for years. Case and point go to Forums.Audiogon.com. You will see the debate over every tweak imaginable. For me I honestly believe burn in of speakers/headphones is your ears just getting used to the new sound. What I've heard change sound in my personal experience is the swapping of pads on headphones. Elevating speakers and speaker placement. Cleaning analog jacks and power cord ends with deoxit. Acoustic treatments to a room and the KAB tonearm dampening system on my Technics 1200 Mk2. The fancy 9 AWG power cords, cryo treated outlets, super thin analog interconnects I've never perceived a pronounced difference. Honestly with all the tweaks I've tried just sit back and relax. Enjoy the music.
In my opinion burn-in is real. It's like car engine - they recommend that you go easy on your car for first few thousand miles, as parts need time to adjust when working together. Same with the headphones - they are made of tangible materials and need some working time to settle in. Cables burn in - is more of a myth IMHO.
My two cents... When I got into this hobby about 15 years ago, I had no idea such a thing as "burn in" existed. I had a pair of mediocre ATH headphones as I slowly built my system, and I recall one day after about a month of listening that they sounded warmer and brighter than usual. I played the same songs from the weeks leading up to this moment, and everything sounded a smidge better. I shrugged it off. Fast forward 15 years and I'm finally in a place where I can buy some nice components and what not and now it seems I can't perceive it (all my equipment is different now though)... So I'm not going to round up a posse and chase down infidels who believe in it, or those who do not, because I believe I have objectively experienced it, and also objectively not experienced it. Not sure why. Maybe it's all psychosomatic (though, to be fair, the first time I noticed it, I had no clue what it was...). Again, my just my $.02. Flame on if you must. 😉
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Makes perfect sense! That's probably what it was for me.
Burn in is a thing in regular speakers either it be bookshelfs,floorstanding, subwoofers,studio monitors,pa speakers,car audio or the speaker in ur phone or tv or your apple airpods
I think burn-in is bullshit, because the material was already tested in the factory, was exposed to a range of temperature and humidity levels, as well vibration from transport. Those headphones are not freaking statues, they already have an history of mechanical stress by the time they get in your hands. If anything they're going to to sound worse over time, not better.
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grandsome
But I think the vibration during shipping does not act the same as using. Maybe it will have a single stronger hit while shipping, but it is no way comparable to the movement when playing cause the driver moves much faster when in use. Also, not every product get factory tested unless you are buying something like $700+. I am not saying that burn-in will make it better, but I do believe some change will occur, for better or worst.
grandsome
I absolutely agree.
I always thought those $700 cables some audiophiles recommend are completely... well useless. I haven't tested balanced but supposedly it just gives you more power. I'll have to do that in the future. Personally I don't think it's headphone/speaker burn-in but maybe just your own ears time to adjust to the new headphone? When I first got my brand new headphone after being stuck with this headphone for 5 years every other headphone was so hard to hear differences. At least going from a HD 598 to HD 600. It's more noticeable now that I took about 2 weeks to take time with the HD 600. The only thing immediately noticeable was the soundstage to me at first which made me hate the HD 600 as it just was a smaller soundstage version of the 598. I do notice a bigger difference now although it still wasn't the headphone for me.
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Mist_x
Balanced audio also reduces noise from interference. Wikipedia does a better job explaining that I could, but basically it's because there are two copies of the signal, one positive and one negative, and so any noise introduced to both lines gets cancelled out.
Completely agree with your observation re older components benefiting from higher-end cables. It wasn't until I installed a few pairs on my Quicksilver pre-amp and Cary amp (all tube) before they really started to sing.
I usually don't call bullshit on much unless it's totally ridiculous but a high end amplifier rack manufacturer Critical Mass Systems  claimed that their racks needed 300 to 500 hours of burn in and I had no problem with their super huge price but burn in a rack ? Really ? LoL
turbomustang84
Yeah, that sounds like a ploy to stave off warranty claims until after the warranty period expires. Clever, but not really....
You guys are way off base. Unless you factor in the angle of the prefabulated amulite you can never properly break in anything. https://youtu.be/rLDgQg6bq7o
High-end power cables take the longest time to break in, due to the thickness of the wires.
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Verifonix has said, "After unboxing, I listened to it for 15 minutes and left them plugged in to allow them to burn in. After 50 hours of burn-in, some harshness that was there was gone and the sound signature seems settled." Burn- in.  Settled. Is there anything else you'd like add?
ko403ok
What's that got to do with thousand dollar power cables though?
This is real. As an Engineer who at one point worked in an engine division. Engines were expected to have horsepower growth after 60 -100 hrs based on the various fits of all the components specifically pistons, rings, liners etc. If you think about it all drivers are basically pistons, so some adjustment should be expected.
LGNDARY
Except drivers aren't pistons. Engines are full of parts that adjust their own tolerances because they move against each other. Drivers don't actually move against another surface, the just vibrate. I'm not taking a side here, but I don't think your comparison makes a ton of sense given how different the two systems are.
fhood
They actually aren't that different. Your statement would be true if the driver was a disc that floated in space, but it's actually attached to a surround which is attached to a frame. Rubber is something fairly difficult to get extremely precise. It's usually installed at once size and it's working condition would be slightly different.
I am a believer. How of a difference it makes, it will depend on the headphones \ earphones \ speakers. For example, the PSB M4U1 sounds terrible out of the box. After a few hours, it started to sound a lot better. VAF speakers, sound awesome out of the box, but their bass responds got better with time. On the hand, I have not felt any difference with the HD6XX.  Cardas does mention about “Breaking in” their earphones for 50 hours (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/74925, http://www.cardas.com/a8mobile_main.php#page4). If George Cardas recommends then it must be true!
I love music, I have several nice records and cds, and I have serious budget constraints, so I am an audio skeptic out of necessity. Over the years I have assembled a reasonable audio system and I am skeptical of burn-in claims for most of the signal path, vacuum tubes being an exception. I recently acquired a new pair of speakers, Focal Aria 906's, and I will say these have changed dramatically over the two months that I've been using them, so much that I am certain it is the speakers and not my perception that has changed. They have matured primarily with respect to low end and imaging, and I don't believe they have reached steady state yet.
pshanks01
I bought the 906's this summer and they also changed quite a lot since I first used them. Mainly in the low-end department and in their balance. They are now very capable in movies, providing a very detailed yet punchy sound when expected without polluting the mids, which to me are just perfect.
(Edited)
It's real. I've heard it. And it applies to more than speakers and headphones. The most glaring example I can recall was a DAC I bought. It was an Ayre QB9 DSD. Keep in mind that this thing cost in excess of $3,000US so we're not talking about some cheaply made device. Now Ayre said right in their literature that it needed burn-in time before it would perform at its best. I don't really understand the physics behind this and so I was a little skeptical but I can tell you when I first set it up it sounded awful. So I went through the burn in process. Basically I shut off the amp and just played music through the DAC for several days. Afterwards I turned on the amp and listened. The difference was dramatic. So yes, I'm a believer.
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Many people? I'd say nearly the entire world population! This is evidenced by the fact that bearly 1/3 of the world worship a being that can be classified as a zombie... 😮
DanTreview
Lich, not a zombie...zombies don't retain their knowledge, or personality.
I've seen several articles on this, with detailed measurements having been taken, and I've yet to see one that showed a measurement change, before and after, that would be anywhere near audible. DIY Audio Heaven and RTings have both done articles on this - both are interesting reads. Want to get into myths? How about the myth that cables need breaking in. Moon Audio, with their extremely expensive Dragon series of headphone cables, recommends just that. Just visiting their site makes my "snake oil" radar go haywire.
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150 hours is lame. I personally think this is an attempt to push people's RMA requests closer to the warranty deadline, with the hope they'll crossover the warranty deadline date. If I'm right, it's a smarmy attempt at keeping RMA costs under control... But I hope they're not telling people there's a super long burn-in time to avoid RMAs. That's my hope.
DanTreview
That's why I bought them during Amazons holiday return period. I have until the end of the month to send them back. I may actually send them in and get a new pair, as they didn't come with the 1/4" adapter. Not that I need it, it's the principal of the thing.
Not real. I do not believe in it.
Don't get me started on tubes god dammit.
More importantly though, just because a computer touched your music, doesn't mean it sounds worse. I have seen more than a few people complaining about "DSP". And I don't think they understand how insanely general a term that is.
Throwing out digital signal processing in a conversation about audio equipment doesn't make you sound cool and knowledgeable unless you actually have an understanding of what specific processing is being done, and how that is effecting your sound. Otherwise you are just repeating dogma that you picked up somewhere else.
The point is, just because digital signal processing is involved (which it is unless you are fully analog) doesn't mean that audible, or even in-audible, quality degradation has occurred. For instance, WAV to FLAC and back involves no degradation of signal. Provably.
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I was talking about vinyls anyway?
Ohh Yeah the GPU is EVGA got them mixed up lol. I can try hooking up the other dacs and turning the pump off to see if the noise remains. I'm just glad the jolida has no interference issues because I like the sound much better anyway with it.
The reason you never show your face in videos is because... A). You're in the witness protection plan and you life is in constant danger B). Your ex-wife's lawyer is looking for you and the $42, 317 in back alimony payments you owe C). You are part-cyborg and the camera you use is actually your left eye
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RayF
He never shows his face because he happens to resemble Donald Trump A tad too much to ever be believed .
turbomustang84
Interesting theory, but his hands are too big to be mistaken for Trump.
I do know for sure that I bought a set of Customs IEM where the channel imbalance was bad to a point I was gonna try to get refunded. 4 days latter this had corrected itself. Would that be considered a "burn in" process or a real problem? I do know for sure it was not just a psychological thing, in that case one of the driver needed to be excited a little while to work as supposed to. Acoustic is a complex process, if Brand new guitar strings sound different than strings that are old, hy shouldn't it be the case with headphone drivers, to a lesser extent?
The change has to be small If it exists at all, and theoretically it would happen fast. I think it’s mostly pushed by brands that want customers to wait past return dates.
Physically, the rubber/foam/fabric is designed to move so much and for so long that the difference from never moving should be over in the first few seconds or minute. If the material changed a lot then it would fail quickly or keep changing. Like if it changed a lot after 100 hours of use then typically materials will keep up a similar wear trend through their entire lifecycle expectancy and it would never stop changing and then it could mean failure at only a few thousand hours of use. Obviously that doesn’t happen.
As for the copper wires in the woofer “tempering”, that’s complete nonsense. First, tempering refers to a heating and quencing process in some alloys, such as steel. Copper does not do this. Furthermore, tempering would require high heats that are not present in a woofer. However, copper can be hardened by hammering or shot blasting. An ultrasonic process can also be used but the power levels required are enormous and wouldn’t take place in a home speaker system or within the range of human hearing where most break in is recommended. Electrical conductivity of cold worked copper can be 3 % lower compared with the same material in its annealed (softened from heating) state. But speaker impedance has not been shown to change with time and neither annealing nor hardening processes seem to be occurring.
It kind of seems like physics would rule out most break in concepts. I cannot be certain though since many subtle things occur in high end audio. It would be interesting to see some double blind experiments on the subject but I don’t know of any.
I think it exists because something that has never moved should in theory be stiff at first and then after a while of rapid movements loosen up, to what degree i don't know. I personally don't believe the statement of "it sounded average at first but after x hours burn in it really opened up" and i think that has more to do with getting used to the frequency response and not a dramatic change in the driver. however if a person listened to a pair of headphones and thought these sound average, making notes of how they sound, then placed them on a block and burned them in for hours then tested them again plotting how they sound (or better yet have 2 one burned in for a long period and one that isn't) and then stated that the burned in pair sounded better, it would be harder to argue that it isn't purely psychological, more so if they did the comparison in a blind test.
Also If a headphone sounds bad or you really hate its sound signature out of the box i highly doubt that burn in or just listening to them for long periods is going to change that, unless of course you are going from closed to open headphones or from very poor sounding to extremely revealing headphones, a dramatic change in the way your music sounds may at first seem odd or displeasing not because its worse but because you got used to a different presentation, in those cases prolonged listening may change your opinion of your headphones.
Side note. Another thing to keep in mind with burn in and the such is the distance your ears are to the driver will make a dramatic change to how they sound, so if you have a brand new pair of headphones and an old pair of the same headphones and believe the old pair sound better, it could simply be a case of the ear pads being worn down and reducing the distance your ears are to the driver.
End rant.
I do believe in break in for some headphones. It's not getting used to the sound because when I do burn in, I don't listen to the headphones for anything more to them for maybe a couple hours at the beginning. Then they just run off my head for 24-48 hours and then I try them again, and some pairs do sound different.
I find burn-in an unproductive topic because like the weather there's nothing you can do about it. If it exists, you're going to use your component and over time its sound will change. If it doesn't exist, you're going to use your component and over time its sound won't change.
But the biggest logical flaw in the burn-in discussion is that no one ever argues that burn-in makes a component sound *worse*. Why are the changes that occur always euphonic?
I like to imagine an audio review that says, "Out of the box, this sounds great! But after 100 hours of burn-in it sounds like crap! My advice is buy this incredible piece of gear, use it for awhile until the burn-in wrecks the sound, and then throw it away and get a nice new fresh one."
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couldn't be more apples and oranges, considering speakers and headphones are mean to move and at rapid speed the better they move generally the better transient response is and the lower their distortion, OBVIOUSLY this doesn't apply to a camera... i was talking strictly about audio devices but you had to have your opinion.
... right well i was referring mainly to the surround in relation to the magnet, a stiff surround could require the magnet to do more work to make it move, as it loosens over time, there is the hypothesis that the speaker becomes more efficient. the amount of noticeable change would depending on the material used to make the speaker and the amount of burn in they already received at the factory, some headphone manufacturers do 50 hrs of burn in to every driver before installing them to ensure consistency and prevent driver failure. but theres arguments in all areas of audio, some say speakers in a wooden enclosure sound better than plastic, some say better cables improve the sound of headphones, some say a really expensive amp and dac will improve headphones. its really up to you whether you choose to believe it or not/ whether you notice it or not. If you dont notice an improvement in sound using more expensive amps then good honestly just means you save money. its like cheap petrol vs premium if you don't notice the improvement then dont waste money just because someone else tells you its better. i never specified that i believed in burn in, i was just going by the general belief surrounding it. my belief surround the subject is that it can change the sound but its such a small difference that if you don't like what you hear out of the box, 100/200/300 hrs of burn in isn't going to fix that.
Breaking in exists, othetwise we wouldn't talk about it. It's more noticeable on some headphones than others, depending on the materials that they are made of. Cables just need no burn in lol..they are either good or bad. What matters on a cable is to not be twisted inside, to have good non magnetic metal in it and to be screened. If it's twisted, it can induce noise due to electromagnetic induction, if it has magnetic metal it will do that more as it's field will increase with impedance, if it's not screened you guessed, it can be easier influenced by external fields and basically act like an antennae. Now all of those above are influenced by length and of course environment. A good cable at home can be a bad one in the car, where interferences are stronger..you got generators and motors at less than 2 m away. Also temperature influences all materials electrical properties but you have to set them on fire to feel a difference. Make sure you test that otside and in the middle of nowhere though. Those cryo cables are a hoax. Tubes make their magic through that heat/impedance process...as the tube heats, it's electric resistence increases and so the circuit will change specs appearing "better" compared to few minutes ago. It's just a trick :).
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Might be true but then you can say as well that speaking about something, it exists all of a sudden. God included, Santa Clause also, though not exactly how we picture it :). Burn in may exist or not, depending on listener, gear and the rotation of the Sun around the center of Milky Way with us and our music included. Who knows...is true people need to believe in things and i gues that's exactly what brought us all here, speaking about this instead of hunting around bushes :)
gluon
Twisted pair cabling is a type of wiring in which two conductors of a single circuit are twisted together for the purposes of improving electromagnetic compatibility. Compared to a single conductor or an untwisted balanced pair, a twisted pair reduces electromagnetic radiation from the pair and crosstalk between neighboring pairs and improves rejection of external electromagnetic interference. It was invented by Alexander Graham Bell.[1] from the wiki