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Do speakers really "break in" or does your ear just finally relent?

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#1 of 38 OFFLINE   Billy C.

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Posted March 21 2003 - 11:15 AM

The FedEx man delivered my new Axiom M60ti's and a VP-150 center today. They are replacing my 6 year old Atlantic Technology System250 mains and center. All 3 of the 250's front speakers have 2 4" drivers and a 1" tweeter. Given that the M60's have 2 6.5" drivers and a 5.25" midrange I assumed that they would be sound much fuller and have a good bit more bass than my AT mains and center. After I hooked everything up I put in a couple of music CD's and a couple of DVD's to test them out. To my dismay, the difference isn't nearly as profound as I thought it would be. In fact, the 60ti's sound a bit harsh compared to the 250's Since there are no dealers around here that carry Axioms I scoured the message boards for weeks before I bought them. Many people have said that Axioms are initially "bright" sounding but that they usually tame a bit after they break in. I'm wondering just how true that is. I have 30 days to test them out which is why I bought them without hearing them. I figure a 30 day in-home test is better than listening for a few minutes in a store. So my question is do speaker characteristics really change after a short break-in period or do your ears just eventually adjust to the sound? I am driving these with a Pioneer Elite 24TX (90 watts/ch). Maybe a different receiver would help? I'm thinking of upgrading to a 47TX (130 watts/ch) - perhaps it would be able to drive these a little better?

#2 of 38 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted March 21 2003 - 01:31 PM

[quote] So my question is do speaker characteristics really change after a short break-in period or do your ears just eventually adjust to the sound? [quote]
Break them in (50+ hours) and then do your comparison vs. your Atlantic Technology.

You'll find every speaker reviewer breaks-in the speaker before they do their subjective / (some objective) review. If 50+ hours seems a lot, contact Axiom and see what their official break-in time period is.

JBL recommends 120 hours for their Titanium equipped Pro Studio Monitors & Consumer (N- & S-Series) speakers.

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#3 of 38 OFFLINE   RobWil


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Posted March 21 2003 - 01:44 PM

Hmmm...exactly what transpires during break in? I'm assuming maybe that the speaker materials are a little stiff and get more supple when broken in?
How about electronic component break ins...like receivers?
Sorry to butt in! :b but ..hey! it's along the same lines! Posted Image
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#4 of 38 OFFLINE   karthikS



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Posted March 21 2003 - 03:08 PM

Hi! I recently purchased JBL S-38 and am about to return them after 2 weeks. This is because, the speakers sound muffled and hollow. Also the highs are not as bright (compared to klipsh or infinity). Well my question is, would the speakers sound better once they are "broken in?" I have been using the speakers for few hours everyday, but i don't play them very loud. Do they have to be played loud for 120 hours to be broken in? Thanks

#5 of 38 OFFLINE   Mike_Gr


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Posted March 21 2003 - 04:30 PM

My first thought is, "what kind of equipment are you running these new speakers with?" Did you upgrade your receiver along with your new Axioms or are you still using your old one? It might help to know what receiver you are powering them with. Axioms can be somewhat bright at first. This does fade with listening/break-in. After 40 hours or so you should notice them taming down. After 120 hours, you should hopefully no longer perceive any briteness. Lastly, a good amp can make a big difference. I switched to a Parasound not long ago and they instantly sounded 'warmer'.
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#6 of 38 OFFLINE   Joe Hsu

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Posted March 21 2003 - 06:35 PM

I haven't been in the "scene" for a long time, being but a college student, but I can say that my Paradigm MOnitor 9s definitely sounded different after a good amount of use...so much more full in the lower end of the spectrum, the entire sound is different, and all for the better.

Now for an amp this summer. Posted Image

#7 of 38 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted March 22 2003 - 12:09 AM

The change that occur during a speaker breaking in are largely off setting from the point of audibility. Listen to them long enough to make a decision whether or not you like the sound but not so long that you can't return them for your money back.

#8 of 38 OFFLINE   Doug_B



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Posted March 22 2003 - 02:08 AM

Of all the component types, I have heard speaker break-in the most prominently, both in my home and at dealers. For my home, my first night with my new speakers had me figuring out how much it would cost to return ship them (they are monsters). But I let them break in via continuous playing, and I avoided listening to them (behind closed doors) during the process. After time frames of at least a week each, I did notice differences for the better. I used this same strategy for electronics and in some cases heard differences as well (esp for my DVD's DVD-A performance, which sounded like real crap on Day 1). YMMV Doug

#9 of 38 OFFLINE   Phil Iturralde

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Posted March 22 2003 - 04:00 AM

[quote] ... JBL pioneered titanium domes way back in 1984. JBL says you'll need some 120 hours of work to get the drivers up and running, but from experience, I'd say 3-4 months is much more to the point. It will be the titanium tweeter which will take longest to really settle down to its true sound. [quote]
Just playing your speaker (any sound source) @ AVG or above AVG SPL, will break them in.

Hope this helps,
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#10 of 38 OFFLINE   John F. Palacio

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Posted March 22 2003 - 06:50 AM

If my memory serves me right, there was a thread regarding a controlled test in which a speaker was measured when new. It was then used for a number of days. It was measured again and there were no significant differences between the two measurements. I realize there are an uncountable number of speakers out there and they are all different. Maybe somebody can remember where that thread was so we can look at it again.
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#11 of 38 OFFLINE   Billy C.

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Posted March 22 2003 - 07:46 AM

Thanks for your replies. Your responses make me wonder how anyone can audition a speaker in a store and decide if it's right for them or not. It may sound a little harsh in the store but after break in it may sound just right. Or even worse, it might sound fantastic in the store and then not so good after break in. I would think that if the sound of a speaker changes over time it's not always for the better. Has anyone been less happy with their speakers after break in? I realize that you could eliminate many speakers within the first 5 minutes because they just don't sound good at all. But I've seen so many postings that compare speakers in terms of such subtle characteristics that it seems impossible to pick one speaker over another if they have similar sound in the store. While I was initially very concerned about ordering these without auditioning them locally first I think I'm glad that I did now. I can use them for 30 days and let them break in before making a final decision. It seems this might be preferable to auditioning them locally if they really do sound that different after break in.

#12 of 38 OFFLINE   Fong


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Posted March 22 2003 - 12:14 PM

i do not believe there is such thing as "breaking in" the speakers, but just your ears. you should realize that the drivers are vibrating thousands of times a minute, and the cross-overs have electricity running through them constantly. if there is such thing as a break-in period, then it would have to occur in the first few minutes of play. if there was such a period, then it would be well documented, and EVERY manufacturer would provide how long it would take for their speakers. i think that the only "breaking in" occurs to the listener. the speakers will either make you love 'em or hate 'em in the end. i have the m22s, which uses the same tweeter and 5.25" drivers as the m60 (iirc), and i dont believe the sound has changed one bit since i got them about a year ago. after i first got them, i loved them. then after about a week i thought them to be too harsh. but that turned out to be that i was using a poor recording (well, relatively poor. keep in mind that axioms are known for being very unforgiving to bad recordings). then after that period, i loved them again. so i say, keep them for a few weeks, then if you still dont like the sound, take advantage of the 30 day trial and return them. get speakers that are warmer, like the rockets. this is what makes sense to me, so i hope this helps. p.s. towers in this price range really do need a subwoofer if you want authority in the lower frequencies. a diy tempest, an svs, or something similar will integrate very well (i have an ebs aligned tempest).

#13 of 38 OFFLINE   JimC_A


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Posted March 22 2003 - 01:45 PM

I have an all Axiom 6.1 setup consisting of M60's, QS8's, VP150 and EP175. They sound exactly the same as when we received them last August.

#14 of 38 OFFLINE   James Edward

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Posted March 23 2003 - 09:55 AM

Maybe there is some break-in time needed for equipment, but I'd bet that the differences are minimal, and if you don't like them at first hearing, you won't like them after they have broken in. When I first connected my PSB Stratus Golds I loved their sound, and they still move me. I do believe break-in occurs, but does not alter the fundamental character of the speaker. If you don't like them now, you probably will just be 'relenting' as you so aptly put it.
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#15 of 38 OFFLINE   Doug_B



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Posted March 23 2003 - 11:45 AM

As I've said before, I have heard the break-in from my own speakers, and I did not listen to them gradually but after long periods of time, i.e., first day, then 10 days later, then 18 days later (changing discs during continuous play doesn't count as listening Posted Image ).

I also have experience with a particular dealer where I heard new speakers there, then heard the same ones after a lengthy time interval, and then I heard a new pair in the same location as the first pair (the first pair was sold from the floor). You guessed it, the first event I perceived brittleness and other nasties, second time they sounded great, then the brittleness was back with the new floor model. The dealer said the equipment was never changed. Must have been my preconceived notion of how they should have sounded, even though I didn't know the 3rd time was with new speakers until after I said, "What the f happened to these speakers?".


#16 of 38 OFFLINE   Phil*K


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Posted March 24 2003 - 08:46 AM

Doug, Great setup, love the pics. Billy, I can't say that you'll like your speakers better after a break-in period, but I'm a firm believer that many speakers sound differently after breaking in. IMO, this is esp true of metal drivers, such as you have. I have read a few professional reviews which cite the difference in speaker charactersitics before and after break-in and have seen it in my own speakers and in speakers that I have auditioned. Phil

#17 of 38 OFFLINE   Dan Lindley

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Posted March 24 2003 - 03:27 PM

So far, there have been few if any replies from mechanical engineers or physicists: what is break in? There are some real puzzles here: some speaker surfaces are supposed to be stiff (like most of the driver) since so many comanies advert ceramic this and that, etc. Yet perhaps, the extension enlarges after break in, etc. And what does break in mean for a tweeter? Perhaps if we narrow the question to what might possibly change on a mechanical/engineering/materials level, we could get somewhere (to support the general but not unan consensus that break in is real). Dan
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#18 of 38 OFFLINE   RichardHOS


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Posted March 24 2003 - 04:11 PM

The speaker surround and spider might exhibit some amount of break-in. I would expect the effect to be most pronounced with woofer and subwoofers, especially for any varieties that are capable of large excursions. Of course, those are precisely the speakers that are more difficult to distinguish differences between as well. The cone can't break in. Or at least, you don't want it to. Electrical wire doesn't break in, so that rules out the crossover network and voice coils. I think it might be possible for a titanium domed tweeter (or similar) to experience some degree of break-in. The excursion is very limited, but small changes will be more perceptible by human ears in that frequency range. I wouldn't expect ribbon speakers to exhibit break in, despite the many claims I've heard to the contrary. I have several planar speakers, and for the life of me can't figure out what could possibly be breaking in. That, and I have heard no such effect. From an engineering point of view, typical material fatigue life is considered infinite past 10^6 cycles or so (dependent somewhat on application). Any stress induced anealing of the material should be done by that time. Going strictly by that maximum timeframe, a speaker playing at an average of 100Hz constantly should be completely broken in within roughly 30 days. Stress amplitude is also a factor, so louder levels will reduce break-in time. Of course, I still believe break-in to be a predominantly psychoacoustic effect.

#19 of 38 OFFLINE   CarlosGo



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Posted March 25 2003 - 06:13 AM

I am completely new to home theater and i have no idea if my subwoofer is messed up or if it did the "break in" thing. I found out about this place yesterday and thought i'd ask for your opinion. when i first received my HTS a couple weeks ago the subwoofer used to be pretty loud just passed the halfway mark and now i need to have it pretty close to the full mark just to get a decent sound out of it (what i think is decent anyway, not too sure maybe it's just me). anyway could it have done the "break in" thing or should i take it in to be looked at? all opinions welcomed and thanks for the help

#20 of 38 OFFLINE   Ryan T

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Posted March 25 2003 - 07:27 AM

When I first finished my GR-research AV1'a I was a little worried about he tweeters. I thought they sounded a little to bright. Well they reason was that I was not used to the sound. I had been using a pair of old realistic bookshelf speakers that had cone tweeters. The difference was huge in the tweeter range because the realistics didn't reproduce all of the frequencies that the AV1's did. So I perceived the AV1's as being bright speakers. Since I got used to the AV1's and Dome tweeters I will NEVER go back. I've run direct comparisons between my old speakers and my AV1's and they old speakers don't even sound like they have a tweeter most the time. And when you can hear the tweeter it's hissy and distorted. I've heard Paradigm studio 20's, B&W nautilus series, and many others. My speakers have silk dome tweeters in them so they are very smooth. The other speakers i've heard came across harsh and fatiguing to me. If you don't get used to the axioms I would suggest a speaker with a good silk dome tweeter since the axioms have metal domes. Also you might want to look into room treatments. I've heard they can completely change how your speakers sound. I know from just moving my speakers around in my room I can tell differences in how they sound. I hope some of this helped. Ryan

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