Question Is speaker 'burn in' real?

podknocker

Well-known member
I've wrestled with the issue of speaker 'burn in' for years, but I'm going to say something that's the truth and will probably sound controversial. My QA3030i speakers, on matching stands have been in the same position for nearly 3 years and I've listened to Chilltrax.com for the same period of time and these speakers are sounding better than they did when I set them up. The foam bungs have been in for a few months and these did remove the bass boom. I have this online radio station on all day, sometimes up to 12 hours, occasionally muted to play and save a track on Spotify, after hearing it on Chilltrax.com! The music tends to repeat, hourly, daily and weekly and I have noticed an improvement in the sound quality. I know some tracks very well and they do sound better these days. I don't know if it's because I have the heating on and the speakers are happier than when cold. I'm not sure, but they are more fluid and the bass is a bit deeper, does seem more agile and nimble and the speakers never sound like they are tripping themselves up with busy bass lines. The treble is about the same, but the midrange and all those synth sounds do seem to be more integrated. I read loads of reviews of the QA3030i and I don't regret buying them one little bit. I do think speaker electronics and the physical materials, which produce the sound, do improve with time. I doubt they can do this forever, but I'm enjoying the tunes more than ever. It could also be the output from my Audiolab Omnia, but I don't really know. I've had my system about 3 years and it sounds great. It sometimes makes me stop what I'm doing and concentrate on the sound. The only way to tell if there has been a change, is to buy another new pair and wire them up, something I'm not going to do, unless I found a new pair at a really low price.
 
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podknocker

Well-known member
After 3 years, aside from the foam plugs, I’d wager that your senses & consciousness will create more change than the speakers are likely to.
It could be my mood, the ambient temperature of my living room, or the ambient light levels and the time of day. All these can contribute to your perception of sounds. All I know is that this system does sound better to me. It's not perfect and I'm still missing that treble 'sparkle', but I'm not upgrading just for that. On many synth based tracks, they sound 'floaty' and still have weight, without any congestion or 'boxiness'. The QAs are very inert little speakers and I can't detect any distortion. The foam bungs must be the cheapest and most effective way of reducing bass boom. I won't remove them now. I'm also wondering if the tolerances and ability of capacitors could change, for better or worse. A crossover's measurements could change over 3 years perhaps? Just a guess.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
I totally get the theory of speaker burn in......mechanical parts loosening up, resulting in improved sound.

The sound will noticeably change after a period of time, is what everyone says. So people without an opinion, buy new and expect change.

Funny how, of those that bother to report a change, nobody prefers the sound before the change - it always changes for the better.

I reckon it's far more likely the new sound sounded alien to them after years / decades of familiarity with their old sound.
Gradually, after say 2 weeks, they come to appreciate the differences - the alien sound may actually be more correct and they really get to like it.

Hence comments such as "I can say that my new speakers definitely sounded better after 2 weeks of use, so burn in was definitely a thing for me".

I believe the sound I first hear is very much the sound I will always hear - but my brain takes a short time to adapt, that's all.
 

Revolutions

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Aug 6, 2023
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Sadly I think my days of reading expensive textbooks are past me.

A potentially less dry option, and much, much cheaper is Donald Hoffman’s work on perception: The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes (Amazon)

Also, another excellent pop psychology book on music just got a paperback release in the UK: This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You
 
I’ll try keep this short.
Bought some speakers. Didn’t like the sound.
Found a stiff driver, replaced it.
Still didn’t like em.
Moved them all over trying to find a sweet spot.
Failed.
Bought bigger amp. Didn’t make a difference.
Tried an old amp, mmm a bit better.
Bought a stupidly expensive amp.
Still not 💯 % convinced.
Took some “inner insulation “ out. Mmmm.
Moved em again.
Things are improving.
Got a sweet spot, after almost 2 years.
Still not 100% convinced by them, but sound loads better than when first new.
In that 2 years, I have definitely grown accustomed to them.
I now really like them, and don’t like overly bassy presentation.
Have I educated my ears to like my speakers or has their sound changed? Or both? Who knows.
Sorry, not that short, but you get the idea.
 

aversaurus

Well-known member
I’ll try keep this short.
Bought some speakers. Didn’t like the sound.
Found a stiff driver, replaced it.
Still didn’t like em.
Moved them all over trying to find a sweet spot.
Failed.
Bought bigger amp. Didn’t make a difference.
Tried an old amp, mmm a bit better.
Bought a stupidly expensive amp.
Still not 💯 % convinced.
Took some “inner insulation “ out. Mmmm.
Moved em again.
Things are improving.
Got a sweet spot, after almost 2 years.
Still not 100% convinced by them, but sound loads better than when first new.
In that 2 years, I have definitely grown accustomed to them.
I now really like them, and don’t like overly bassy presentation.
Have I educated my ears to like my speakers or has their sound changed? Or both? Who knows.
Sorry, not that short, but you get the idea.
What speakers were they?
 
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James105

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Oct 30, 2019
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I’ll try keep this short.
Bought some speakers. Didn’t like the sound.
Found a stiff driver, replaced it.
Still didn’t like em.
Moved them all over trying to find a sweet spot.
Failed.
Bought bigger amp. Didn’t make a difference.
Tried an old amp, mmm a bit better.
Bought a stupidly expensive amp.
Still not 💯 % convinced.
Took some “inner insulation “ out. Mmmm.
Moved em again.
Things are improving.
Got a sweet spot, after almost 2 years.
Still not 100% convinced by them, but sound loads better than when first new.
In that 2 years, I have definitely grown accustomed to them.
I now really like them, and don’t like overly bassy presentation.
Have I educated my ears to like my speakers or has their sound changed? Or both? Who knows.
Sorry, not that short, but you get the idea.
I have no idea how you managed to keep persevering with them. Wasn't one drive unit wired out of phase with the others in one of the speakers?
I’ll try keep this short.
Bought some speakers. Didn’t like the sound.
Found a stiff driver, replaced it.
Still didn’t like em.
Moved them all over trying to find a sweet spot.
Failed.
Bought bigger amp. Didn’t make a difference.
Tried an old amp, mmm a bit better.
Bought a stupidly expensive amp.
Still not 💯 % convinced.
Took some “inner insulation “ out. Mmmm.
Moved em again.
Things are improving.
Got a sweet spot, after almost 2 years.
Still not 100% convinced by them, but sound loads better than when first new.
In that 2 years, I have definitely grown accustomed to them.
I now really like them, and don’t like overly bassy presentation.
Have I educated my ears to like my speakers or has their sound changed? Or both? Who knows.
Sorry, not that short, but you get the idea.
I have no idea how you managed to keep persevering with them. Wasn't one drive unit wired out of phase with the others in one of the speakers? enough to drive a man mad.
 
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James105

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2019
276
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Visit site
I've wrestled with the issue of speaker 'burn in' for years, but I'm going to say something that's the truth and will probably sound controversial. My QA3030i speakers, on matching stands have been in the same position for nearly 3 years and I've listened to Chilltrax.com for the same period of time and these speakers are sounding better than they did when I set them up. The foam bungs have been in for a few months and these did remove the bass boom. I have this online radio station on all day, sometimes up to 12 hours, occasionally muted to play and save a track on Spotify, after hearing it on Chilltrax.com! The music tends to repeat, hourly, daily and weekly and I have noticed an improvement in the sound quality. I know some tracks very well and they do sound better these days. I don't know if it's because I have the heating on and the speakers are happier than when cold. I'm not sure, but they are more fluid and the bass is a bit deeper, does seem more agile and nimble and the speakers never sound like they are tripping themselves up with busy bass lines. The treble is about the same, but the midrange and all those synth sounds do seem to be more integrated. I read loads of reviews of the QA3030i and I don't regret buying them one little bit. I do think speaker electronics and the physical materials, which produce the sound, do improve with time. I doubt they can do this forever, but I'm enjoying the tunes more than ever. It could also be the output from my Audiolab Omnia, but I don't really know. I've had my system about 3 years and it sounds great. It sometimes makes me stop what I'm doing and concentrate on the sound. The only way to tell if there has been a change, is to buy another new pair and wire them up, something I'm not going to do, unless I found a new pair at a really low price.
Yes they can and do change but normally for the worst, the older they get the more they go out of spec. Again not normally for the better.
Exactly any transducer after say three "zero to max" cycles should repeat almost exactly for its lifespan, if it drifts its faulty.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Speakers are mechanical and like all mechanical equipment change over time,
BTW: Speakers do not burn-in, however, they do bed in.

Bill
Loudspeakers are electromechanical devices and I would think the crossover components have a different electrical characteristic after being used for a while and the speaker suspensions would loosen up a little after prolonged use. I don't think I'm expecting an improvement, but I can hear things I couldn't before. The physical and electrical properties after 3 years, can't be identical to the ones when rolled off the production line. The capicitors and the materials in the speakers must change with movement and when being fed many amps of current day after day. I'm not an electroacoustic expert, but things change over time. They become more compliant and responsive, or they deteriorate. New speakers and 50 year old speakers cannot sound the same surely.
 

njprrogers

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Had no opinion on this till 2 months ago when I purchased my Wharfedale Lintons 85th new and for the first couple of days was shocked at the lack of bass. I am totally open to the notion of how you interpret the sound changing over time but the change felt so significant as I started to perceive (or the Lintons started to communicate) their true bass character.
I had no such ah ha moment from my LS50's - purchased second hand.
 
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Whether you call it burn in, settling in, bedding in, etc etc, all mechanical products benefit from it, whether it’s a car engine, turntable and cartridge, or loudspeaker. Of course, part of this is our ears becoming accustomed to its sound. This is why I don’t like quick AB comparisons, as there’s no time to really get to grips with the product, and you end up just comparing tonal balance. You need time with a product to get used to it, to appreciate its strengths, and identify its flaws.
 
Think it does take a while to hear the best of a brand new speaker, more so than other components -- the speaker physical moving parts, and after spending possibly months in a stock room somewhere, they need exercise, like a new car engine.

Of course there's always a human element, as room temperature, your own mood, white noise from outside... can always influence what you hear.
 

manicm

Well-known member
Whether you call it burn in, settling in, bedding in, etc etc, all mechanical products benefit from it, whether it’s a car engine, turntable and cartridge, or loudspeaker. Of course, part of this is our ears becoming accustomed to its sound. This is why I don’t like quick AB comparisons, as there’s no time to really get to grips with the product, and you end up just comparing tonal balance. You need time with a product to get used to it, to appreciate its strengths, and identify its flaws.

What I've always said, really.
 

SteveH72

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This is from a Bowers Wilkins manual, recommending 15 hours running in.

”The performance of the speaker will change subtly during the
initial listening period. If the speaker has been stored in a cold
environment, the damping compounds and suspension materials
of the drive units will take some time to recover their correct
mechanical properties. The drive unit suspensions will also loosen
up during the first hours of use. The time taken for the speaker to
achieve its intended performance will vary depending on previous
storage conditions and how it is used. As a guide, allow up to
a week for the temperature effects to stabilise and 15 hours of
average use for the mechanical parts to attain their intended
design characteristics”.
 

Gray

Well-known member
This is from a Bowers Wilkins manual, recommending 15 hours running in.

”The performance of the speaker will change subtly during the
initial listening period. If the speaker has been stored in a cold
environment, the damping compounds and suspension materials
of the drive units will take some time to recover their correct
mechanical properties. The drive unit suspensions will also loosen
up during the first hours of use. The time taken for the speaker to
achieve its intended performance will vary depending on previous
storage conditions and how it is used. As a guide, allow up to
a week for the temperature effects to stabilise and 15 hours of
average use for the mechanical parts to attain their intended
design characteristics”.
Yes, show me a loudspeaker manufacturer that doesn't say similar.
So when they design the speaker - with their extremely critical calculations, they allow for the break in period we assume.....and they know precisely how much the speaker will change we assume 🤔

So when they test the new speaker on the production line, they're testing the pre broken in version....they give you all the specs from that test, including the FR plot.....then they tell you to expect a change 🙂

Call me a cynic - not saying break in is fiction, but I've always thought it was overrated.....one of those things mentioned by everybody because everybody else mentions it.
 
There was a bit of confusion regarding in/out of phase, but thankfully sorted now. i would have binned them had they not been so bloody expensive.
anyway, they now sound great. It’s been a long hard road but I got there in the end.
probably going to be replaced by some Focal Sopra next year if funds permit.
 
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Deleted member 201267

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Yes, show me a loudspeaker manufacturer that doesn't say similar.
So when they design the speaker - with their extremely critical calculations, they allow for the break in period we assume.....and they know precisely how much the speaker will change we assume 🤔

So when they test the new speaker on the production line, they're testing the pre broken in version....they give you all the specs from that test, including the FR plot.....then they tell you to expect a change 🙂

Call me a cynic - not saying break in is fiction, but I've always thought it was overrated.....one of those things mentioned by everybody because everybody else mentions it.
EXACTLY.
 
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Yes, show me a loudspeaker manufacturer that doesn't say similar.
So when they design the speaker - with their extremely critical calculations, they allow for the break in period we assume.....and they know precisely how much the speaker will change we assume 🤔

So when they test the new speaker on the production line, they're testing the pre broken in version....they give you all the specs from that test, including the FR plot.....then they tell you to expect a change 🙂

Call me a cynic - not saying break in is fiction, but I've always thought it was overrated.....one of those things mentioned by everybody because everybody else mentions it.
I suspect the mass-produced Chinese speakers, like my little Q Acoustics, aren’t tested at all, or only for continuity. By contrast, I’m pretty sure ATC test every driver at full power with a frequency sweep. After all they are all handmade in house. So they are ‘burned in’ before shipping.

The acclimatisation is real though, both temperature and humidity. Back in my shop days, cold, brand new speakers from the stock room almost always sounded awful for at least a few minutes, if not all day. The ones played constantly always sounded best!
 

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