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I had Bose 901s in 1976 and they played Frank Zappa to my satisfaction.

That out of the way, there is probably a break in for everything from toasters to amplifiers. Personally I believe that if the human element notices a difference its because They are now broken in to the particular item. Sort of like not smelling the pigs anymore after a week on the farm.
 

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I recently built three monitors and two subwoofers. I noticed a big change after a few hours of use. I also compared a new pair of Sennheiser HD600 with a pair a couple of years old and heavily listened to. Bass was noticeably weaker in the new pair. Its a matter of flexible parts loosening up to meet their operating state.
Further, many loudspeaker companies do burn in their drivers, such as Exodus from whom I recently purchased a Shiva X2 and Tempest X2 and ScanSpeak does too.
 

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Thanks to all for this discussion; I learned a lot about the theory and practice of driver break-in.
Now I intend to play with it myself:
I just received a new sub driver which measures very differently from the manufacturer's published specs, so I'll try some of the break-in techniques mentioned in this thread and see what the results are-
Nothing like some direct experience to match my State motto: Show-Me.

Tom
 

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Fact. Good headphones, like the AKG-K701, really see an improvement with at least 100 hours of break in. Same with the full range drivers I've played with. Can't say much about commercial products although I believe some companies even break in the speakers before shipping.
 

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Whenever I discuss breaking in speakers, the analogy I like to use is shoes. There is a break-in period that is related to the materials used and overall pliability. The process might take minutes, hours or days. Speakers are sneakers, subwoofers are boots. With subwoofers, I've measured an increase in (extreme) excursion at the same output levels over the first 10-20 hours. This correlates to frequent reports of 'improved low frequency extension'. With regular speakers, I'm not so sure there's any break-in to notice unless the speakers are used full-range and have exceptional bass extension... basically any speaker with large, high-excursion woofers. I'd wager more than a few dollars that in a new system, the subwoofer is the only component people actually hear 'break in' and that sometimes the improved overall dynamics are credited to speakers or some other component.
 

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Actually Dub King the smaller drivers go through just as much mechanical compliance change as the larger ones. If you follow my links above you can see some measured time frames on a group of drivers that range from 5.5" to 6.5".

What most people actually hear is also contributed to the electrical burn in as well. Wire, dielectric material, films, etc, all go through a forming period that alters the signal transmission over the first 40 to 50 hours on some materials and up to 500 hours on material like polyethylene or Teflon.

From a good 400 to 500Hz and up it is the burn in changes of capacitors that are most discernible.

Speaker cables, interconnects, power cables and even electronics also go through these same effects.
 

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I don't believe power cables and interconnects go through burn-in. I'm open minded, but not to the point of believing in magic. I do agree smaller drivers go through compliance changes as well, and that any solid-state component that relies on chemistry will also show very small changes in performance, although I question whether this can really be heard. Surely this has all been debated by people smarter than I.

I'll tell you one thing... I've only met audiophiles and marketing/sales folks who believe in cable break-in. I don't run into producers or musicians or recording engineers who believe any of that. You will find me to be in the 'same as coat hangers' camp when it comes to running electricity through metal wires, and nothing in the last 30 years of music listening has managed to challenge that impression.

Subwoofers go through the greatest changes, that's where break-in has the most impact - followed by woofers.


Actually Dub King the smaller drivers go through just as much mechanical compliance change as the larger ones. If you follow my links above you can see some measured time frames on a group of drivers that range from 5.5" to 6.5".

What most people actually hear is also contributed to the electrical burn in as well. Wire, dielectric material, films, etc, all go through a forming period that alters the signal transmission over the first 40 to 50 hours on some materials and up to 500 hours on material like polyethylene or Teflon.

From a good 400 to 500Hz and up it is the burn in changes of capacitors that are most discernible.

Speaker cables, interconnects, power cables and even electronics also go through these same effects.
 

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I wish you were close by. I'd change the way you think about everything by letting you listen to some comparisons. I have not had a visitor yet that couldn't easily hear the difference in a cable change whether it be power cables, speaker cables, or interconnects.

I can even let you get used to the system and swap out just one pair of interconnects for a fresh pair (no burn in) and again the difference is not hard to hear, especially if you know what to listen for.

There is a challenge here that you might be interested in: http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/gr-research/61308-does-wire-capacitors-resistors-make-difference.html#axzz2CF7wwm4U

And cable break in isn't a believe in or not believe in type of deal. You either have experienced it or you have not.
 

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And typically it is harder to hear the mechanically changes in compliance of a sub woofer than a smaller driver. As the compliance softens it is kind of like air shocks on an old car. If you put a lot of air in the shocks then the ride is firmer and it can take longer for the car to quit bouncing after hitting a bump. With less air in the shocks the ride gets softer and settling time is less.

Woofers are much the same way. As the compliance softens it alters the settling time of the woofer. So it tends to recover faster from the input signal. This is why many people note that the mid-range sounds smoother, lusher, more natural, and with less congestion after burn in.

With the small driver the settling time can decrease in some areas by 1 or 2ms pretty easily. And if the total settling time was only 6 or 8ms to begin with then this is pretty significant and easy to hear.

On a real heavy sub the softening can allow a little deepening of the output, but a 1 to 2ms decrease in settling time might not be as noticeable when setting times could be MUCH longer due to the amount of mass and stored energy of the heavier woofer. Room resonances and cabinet wall resonances can also easy mask the slight added clarity that one might get from a sub after a good burn in period.
 

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I'm sure you have a mighty fine demonstration, I don't get down to Texas much. Thanks for the link, I think most DIY speaker builders would agree with the upgrades you performed on that speaker. As a producer I have to say that the thinking that goes on at the consumer end of things is sometimes amusing, far too much emphasis is placed on the things that matter least. :rolleyesno:

I have my opinions, I don't claim they are facts. My opinion is cable burn-in - insomuch as it can be discerned by the listener - is purely in the realm of psychoacoustics. The main exception I'd grant is if a cable is of the wrong impedance (in the case of connects) or of insufficient gauge to perform the assigned task (in the case of power cords and speaker cables).

I wish you were close by. I'd change the way you think about everything by letting you listen to some comparisons. I have not had a visitor yet that couldn't easily hear the difference in a cable change whether it be power cables, speaker cables, or interconnects.

I can even let you get used to the system and swap out just one pair of interconnects for a fresh pair (no burn in) and again the difference is not hard to hear, especially if you know what to listen for.

There is a challenge here that you might be interested in: http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/gr-research/61308-does-wire-capacitors-resistors-make-difference.html#axzz2CF7wwm4U

And cable break in isn't a believe in or not believe in type of deal. You either have experienced it or you have not.
 

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In late January I built a set of 40" folded horns using a 4" driver. They included horn tweeters. I am not using a crossover just a 10 uf cap as a hi pass filter for the tweeter.
Because of a project that I was working on I did a number of spectral scans every few days. After a day of testing the speakers at 90 db :hsd:, my wife and I both noticed a change in the sound of the speakers. There had not been a change in the 4 months of use before that.
Here are scans from the start of testing and after the change. I do not see a change, but can hear one.
 

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Could one not use distortion measurements when drivers are new and then again say after 50 hours break in to see the difference of break in? REW has speaker distortion measurements.
 

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Could one not use distortion measurements when drivers are new and then again say after 50 hours break in to see the difference of break in? REW has speaker distortion measurements.
The differences you hear are not found in distortion measurements. The differences can be seen in the spectral decay though. As the suspension softens it changes the setting time causing less stored energy and smoother more relaxed sound.
 

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The differences you hear are not found in distortion measurements. The differences can be seen in the spectral decay though. As the suspension softens it changes the setting time causing less stored energy and smoother more relaxed sound.
Thanks Danny.

So for a new 12 inch coaxial speaker what would you say is a fair break in period using a break in track? 50 hrs? More? Also what is an ideal break in spl level ie 10 db below reference ok?
 

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Thanks Danny.

So for a new 12 inch coaxial speaker what would you say is a fair break in period using a break in track? 50 hrs? More? Also what is an ideal break in spl level ie 10 db below reference ok?
In my experience of testing and measuring the T/S parameters after various amounts of burn in time I see this pattern. Imagine the fresh driver is at point A and complete burn in is at point B. Every time you double the amount burn in time you move half way to point B. So in the first hour you move pretty far. I'd say close to half way. But eventually you are putting a lot more time on them and seeing very little real change.

With some drivers it is really hard to hear much change after 40 hours or so. With some that settle range where it is hard to tell any difference come at 80 plus hours or so.

Also, how hard you're working them in that burn in period makes a difference as well.
 
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