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Audio Myths... A mostly civilized discussion
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My views somewhat mirror Z's. I think there might be physical changes in the first few hours, fresh out of the box. Especially if its been in transit for weeks from china etc, chances are its been exposed to varying temperatures.
Having said that, I haven't noticed any long term changes, say past 10 hours are so. When I see manufacturers recommend minimum 150 hours to burn in a headphone before reviewing it, I oblige them, not because I believe it will make a difference, but for completions sake. But it does make me wonder, how are we really keeping track of changes with burn in?
I have read articles in the past which details just how unreliable our visual memory can be, and from personal experience, I find auditory memory to be even worse. So it begs the question, how valid are the comparisons detailing the supposed audio improvements? When someone declares they have noticed a big change with burn in, how well are they recalling the initial sound?
For reviewing purposes, I use a specific burn in mp3 file for the recommended amount of hours (https://www.dropbox.com/s/wln905ko6ksl44h/JLab_burn_in_file.mp3?dl=0%22) from Jlabs. Details can be found at: http://www.jlabaudio.com/pages/audio-burn-in-download
One confounding variable that also leads to a lot of debate is unit variability or quality control. Everything in this hobby is relative, nothing really exists in vacuum (except vacuum tube amps hehe). So when someone is adamant they find your favourite bass heavy headphone to be bass light, consider the fact that they legitimately might have a bass light unit, or you might have a unit with extra bass.
Recently I was comparing two units of them same iem, and I was surprised just how much of a difference there was between the two headphones. My first unit was quite bass heavy, while my second unit was much more balanced tonally. So now I see why some were claiming them to be bass heavy vs bass light. My initial plan was that by comparing the two units I would be able to establish for myself if burn in is a real phenomenon or not. But alas, as you can see things aren't always as clear cut as we might want them to be, or go according to plan for that matter.
No idea where I am going this this post/rant but its my first post here :)
150 hours is past the return period for most people and most vendors..... : )