Q
What is ‘burn in’?
A

When speaking ofheadphones, ‘burn in’ is the term used for the settling oft he designparameters of the diaphragms into their intended state. The physical process isthat the diaphragms loosen up through use and eventually reach a point thatcould be considered final. A similar situation is breaking in a new pair ofshoes.

 

Why do peoplechoose to burn in a new pair of headphones shortly after getting them?

Fresh out of thebox, a pair of headphones may not sound as good as a well used pair, as thedesigners have intended. Often, people want their headphones to sound the waythat they are intended as soon as possible. Most people don’t want to wait forweeks or months of regular use, so the choice is to expedite burn in by gettingthe process over with in the first week of ownership. Others choose to listento their headphones as they change over the burn in period.

 

How do I burn inmy new pair of headphones?

You can simplyplay music through them continuously. Some prefer using pure tones, sine wavesweeps, pink noise, or AM/FM static for burn in. Some recommend using bassheavy music. The method of burning in a headphone does not change depending onmodel or manufacturer.

 

Which burn inmethod is most efficient?

There is noscientific evidence proving that one is better than the other. Choose themethod that you prefer.

 

What do I dowith my headphones while they are burning in?

You can set themon a table, put them in a sock drawer, put them under some pillows, or put themon your head. It’s up to you.

 

Do I have toburn in my new pair before I listen to them?

No. You canlisten to your new pair of headphones straight from the box. Whether or not toburn in your headphones is your choice. As you listen, you may hear gradualchanges in the sound through use. Some people choose to listen periodicallyduring the process, while some hold out until the process is complete. Whilestill others listen for the burn in throughout the entire process listeningfrom day one and enjoying the evolution in sound.

 

How much doesburn in effect the sound of the headphones?

Some say burn inhas a drastic effect, some say there is little effect, and some say that thereis no effect. The amount of change resulting from burn in will be different foreach model of headphones.

 

How long shouldI burn in my new pair?

Many recommendapproximately 100 hours for most headphones. Some recommend as many as 200hours or more. Different headphones may take longer than others for a so-called‘complete’ burn in, and there is no exact or set length of time for burn in. Itis best to use your ears to listen for changes to decide when you should stopthe burn in process.

 

When is burn incomplete? Can I burn in too much?

The idea behindinitial burn in is to reach the point at which audible changes stop occurringand you are left with drivers than have settled into the sound that they willhave forever after, the sound that it was designed to have. After that point,regular use of the driver won’t cause significant change in the sound, untilperhaps years and years later when thousands upon thousands of hours havepassed and the life of the driver is at its end. However, some say that burn inis never complete. The argument is that regular, long-term use constantly wearson the drivers and that wear always has an affect on the sound. Still, it issafe to say that, after a driver has reached its designed parameters throughburn in, regular use won’t cause significant audible changes.

 

Is there a wrongway to burn in my headphones?

You riskdamaging your headphones at any time by using extremely high volumes. Somerecommend setting the volume to a comfortable listening level during burn in,while others recommend a volume slightly higher than your normal listeninglevel. If you hear distortion, pops, or cracks due to high volume, you arelikely doing damage to the drivers. Also, using very low volumes will not bevery effective in burning in your headphones.

 

Is burn inactually real?

The idea of burnin has always been controversial. Some people say that there is evidence thatproves it while others say that there is evidence to disprove it. Some considerthe phenomenon to be purely psychological conditioning while others insist uponphysical changes to the drivers, and some agree upon a combination of the two.You are free to be a believer, and you are free to be a skeptic. Whether or notyou believe in it and the position you take on the subject is a choice that youshould make for yourself.

 

Is thereanything else that I should know?

Burn in has beendiscussed at length over the years of Head-Fi. Any question you have concerningburn in has likely been asked numerous times, and by using the search functionand reading through previous threads, you will almost surely find answers andopinions. This FAQ has been created to limit the number of redundant threadsposted by newcomers or especially curious existing members of the Head-Ficommunity asking the same questions that have been asked in the past. Thesubject of burn in is not especially complicated or involved, nor is itsomething to have great concern about, nor is it an exact science. Opinions,methods, and results vary from person to person, headphone to headphone, systemto system.

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