Do You Believe in Burning In Headphones?

Does this actually help or is it placebo? Also what “noise” would I do it with and what if I have been listening to regular music before the burn-in? Is it not the same as originally burning them in with a certain “noise”? Thanks for the feedback.

I didnt believe in it untill I experienced it. most of the time burn in was just my ears getting used to a signature. then after owning my 4xx for a while I think Im believe it did get better with a little bit of time. it used to sound odd and clumsy now it sounds great. I just used regular music I listened to burn them in.


Ditto on the 4xx… I used pink noise

I think the benefits vary greatly with different headphones however. In my limited experience.

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I used to believe that burn-in is a thing. Now I believe in ear pad break in more than drivers actually changing sound of the headphone.

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Depends on the headphone.
I usually assume they don’t change much after the 1st hour.
And I usually listen through any burn in there might be.

Having said that my Ether CX was the first case of significant changes over a very large number of hours of burn in I’ve experienced, and I’m fairly sure it wasn’t just me getting used to it.

There have been a number of attempts to measure the effect, without anything conclusive as far as I’m aware, but it’s difficult to do because headphone rigs are really prone to variance with setup.

There are lots of possible explanations that would explain changes in sound, driver material fatiguing, pads compressing more…

If you burn in say 150 hours, and 50 hours is you listening to the can and nothing else meanwhile - you have broken in the can AND your ears too.

I prefer keeping the first 150 to maybe 15 hours listening, with another 30 hours listening to 1 or 2 of your current favs mixed in also, that way you don’t get your ear educated away from what you like by simple newness.

In the olden days 1970+ Magnepan used to ask for very long break ins as did Martin-Logan more recently. Both mylar just like many headphones today. Some dynamic drivers are made to very stiff tolerances and its adavised that they have long break-ins. Speakers with crossovers which contain capacitors need burn-in as well.

HD-600’s didn’t seem to need a lot of break-in, but recently my Alaras needed about 100 hours, HE6SE about 125. 4XX maybe 75.

Without a doubt.
As some members have mentioned, including M0N, the burn in is for both the headphones and your ears to accommodate for the sound signature as well.
Get a pair of Nighthawks and you’ll learn [slowly] that burn in is a real thing.

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Burn in is unequivocally not real. The only thing that changes is your ears acclimating. Many proven members of the community have measured this and proven it not to be true. Any changes in Frequency Response falls within margin of error, and that margin could be related to headphone positioning, improper seal, human error and other events. Furthermore, that margin of error is 999 times out of 1000 not audible. I really don’t understand how somebody can be as arrogant as to think their ears are more accurate that actual measurements. This is a topic that will polarize the community, but just know that if you believe this, you are the equivalent of a flat-earther.


Flat earther here. At least with the Aeolus, Verite, and Ether CX. While I usually have an acclimation period, or mental burn in, with most new headphones, these 3 changed. I know I saw Dan Clark post himself that the CX needed about 200 hours burn-in, and this post is from Zach on the head-fi Verite forums saying the Verite befits from 300 hours:

" The burn in stuff with Verite has been interesting for me too - with our other headphones I’ve found 150 hours is somewhat around the point the headphones feel liquid and effortless. The Verite I lumped into this category as some of the chassis of the driver is similar to the auteur driver, but after having to keep a few sets for shows lately, and getting to hear @pippen99’s and a couple other well used Verite’s at the Louisville meet yesterday, I definitely think verite needs around 300 hours to be fully burned in. The burned in headphones definitely have a maturity, liquidity, more forward nature and “pop” to the sound and resolve that a new set doesn’t have. I’m a firm believer that burn in mechanical and that it’s the totality of the parts working together as a whole"


I completely agree that this is always overlooked and probably a larger factor than most of us realize

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Any study is only as good as its methodology. There’s a reason scientific studies are peer reviewed. Just because someone uses measurements doesn’t mean those measurements were chosen wisely. A good example is frequency response graphs, they don’t tell you what a headphone sounds like, they tell you what volume a headphone produces at different frequencies. But people use them to “objectively” state what a headphone sounds like.
Just saying, if you’re going to make an unequivocal statement you need to have more to back it up than a test run under one set of conditions.


FWIW the difference with the ether CX wouldn’t be necessarily be caught on frequency sweeps.
Single tones, or simple mixes always sounded good, the issue was the interaction between sounds.
Measurements are fine, but designing good experiments is hard, I’m still not convinced for a lot of what we hear we are even measuring the right things.

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Ive experienced that shit. I think its the diaphragm. You see it vibrates. and its very thin and made of various materials. so it needs to be used or it goes stiff i think. I think this also stands for Planars too. Maybe also other parts of the headphone. I’ve had headphones that i will use one day, not be impressed and put them on the next day after listening to other headphones and hear a marked improvement. especially the Aeolus.

I use my headphone amp for my external speakers. So i plug in my headphones and let them run while im watching other stuff. like youtube and such.

You all can say what you want, I can agree to disagree. I have science behind me, you have your ears. I will choose science every time. Still love ya guys, just the way it is.

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I am pretty sure nobody is trying to argue with you. We can also see that this hobby is certainly subjective. We chase for different things and we prefer different sounds.
As far as I know, if burn in is real for you and you can hear a difference, cool.
If not, cool as well – at least you’re not wasting time and electricity trying to burn them in, lol

There are more things in heaven and earth, Hazi59, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy [science]

I certainly trust Tyll, Paul McGowan, and other subject matter experts such as them on the subject, which they have extensively tested and reported on. If you want to dispute their methodology, have it at it.

Just to throw in my 2 cents, I feel that the changes from burn in are more the QUALITY of the sound as apposed the the actual frequency response. For example my TR-X00 PH when I first got them where a bit sibilant and a touch muddy in the mid-bass. These characteristics persisted after a pad change (so not pad break in). now that these have been my favorite headphone for about 6 months and used constantly I can’t pic up either of those characteristics, even after not using them them for about 2 or 3 weeks (so not acclimation to the sound). They still sound the same, just better, kind of like what Zach from ZMF said.

This makes me believe that the mechanical aspects of the driver “break-in” with use, causing changes to the way it makes sound, not the sounds it makes. Not every headphone will “break-in” in a way that will be noticeable though since every driver design is different and some will have bigger changes than others or do not have noticeable “flaws” that will go away with “break-in”.

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I’ve seen tests where there are clear downward trends in intermodulation distortion.
None of this is definitive and IME I rarely hear significant changes after the first hour or so, the Ether CX though the changes were significant, and I resorted to letting them play music overnight. What’s interesting to me is many of the improvements I heard were more present at lower volumes.

I personally wouldn’t bother actually playing pink noise or something through a driver.

Assuming it is a thing and does definitively improve sound quality, is it then cost prohibitive for manufacturers to do this in the factory? Seems odd to me that they wouldn’t do it before putting them up for sale.