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

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#21 of 38 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted March 25 2003 - 08:31 PM

An older thread that also dealt with break-in can be found here.

#22 of 38 OFFLINE   Frank Mowry

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Posted March 25 2003 - 11:24 PM

Billy, This is from Alan Lofft, over at the Axiom message board regarding speaker breakin: "Incidentally, during my many years on listening panels at the National Research Council, for my work reviewing speakers for the magzine I edited (Sound&Vision Canada), we kept various speakers, good and bad, as "anchors" for use during double-blind tests. These sonic anchor speakers were mixed with the actual models under test, partly to confirm our own listening consistency and to provide a range of rankings. (In some tests where there were several models that were "similarly good," we sometimes had to have a real clunker in there just to remind us of how bad some brands really are!). What is amazing is the consistency of the rankings of the same anchor speakers over many years by different listeners, even down to the tenths of a point. These were driven hundreds of hours, and the frequency response curves never changed a fraction of a dB, nor did the listening test rankings, so that relegated the notion of speaker break-in to the status of myth. If the loudspeaker's characteristics changed over time, these changes would show up in the measurements and also in the controlled listening tests. A comment as well on heat dissipation: Years ago, Kef used a popular T27 tweeter with a phenolic dome (it was used on a pair of audiophile favorites, the BBC monitor (LS3-5A), built by Rogers, Kef and other Brits). Under high volume conditions, this speaker's frequency response curve changed quite dramatically. After experimentation, Dr. Floyd Toole discovered that the T27's dome tweeter began to melt from heat and actually changed shape at high volume, so its dispersion traits changed. When you lowered the volume, the dome resumed its original shape! That's the only instance I can recall of a speaker's response changing in measurable and audible fashion in almost two decades of listening tests. Speaker break-in is another one of these faddish notions promulgated by high-end niche magazines, which at their core are fundamentally anti-science. Speaker break-in is a psycho-acoustical phenomenon where your ears and brain adjust to a different set of speaker dispersion traits that energize reflections and room modes in different ways. Regards, Alan Lofft Axiom Resident Expert " By the way, I'm looking for a VP150 center in black, so if you return it let me know. Maybe we can work something out with Axiom since it would save shipping if I bought it from you and they gave you a full refund and me the factory outlet price. FWIW, Frank Mowry HK 525 Axiom M22s

#23 of 38 OFFLINE   RichardHOS


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Posted March 26 2003 - 12:47 AM

The above testemonial doesn't surprise me one bit.

#24 of 38 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted March 26 2003 - 02:05 AM

Carlos, Welcome to the forum! The difference you describe certainly can not be attributed to break-in effects (and as you can see, some people even doubt that effect exists at all). It's simply too much for that. Did you change any other setting on your receiver? Did you compare with the same source (DVD and or CD)? Did you change the position of any speakers? Cees

#25 of 38 OFFLINE   Tim Ranger

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Posted March 26 2003 - 03:08 AM

This topic has been hammered on many times over at AA and also at AVS. You'll find many people rabidly saying that it doesn't make a bit of difference and an equal number of folks rabidly saying it doesPosted Image Myself, I've experienced it many times so I simply run in any new speaker for a good 80 - 100 hours before critically listening. I'll tell you what. Everytime I've given a quick listen to a new speaker than set it up to run and came back later, it sounds different and usually considerably better. It isn't me getting used to it, because I'm not in the room!
I'll also say that to me a quick audition is nearly worthless. How many times do you hear a new song and like it right away only to get sick of it pretty quick? Same with speakers. Sometimes they sound pretty good right away but start to sound like crap after a bit. I prefer speakers that sound better and better the more I listen instead of generating fatigue. Take the time to really audition and you'll be more pleased in the long run.

#26 of 38 OFFLINE   CarlosGo



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Posted March 26 2003 - 03:51 AM

Cees, I haven't changed any settings on the receiver they are still the same as when i first received it and i haven't changed the placement of any of the speakers. i notice the difference on most of my dvd's that i had watched before the sound of the subwoofer changed, they just dont sound the same anymore especially on my LOTR dvd i remember that the sound was pretty loud like you could feel it vibrating off the walls or something. now it doesn't really do that, could something be wrong with it? thanks in advance for any help that you can provide.

#27 of 38 OFFLINE   Marc H

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Posted March 26 2003 - 05:21 AM

I'm a firm believer of speaker break in. Working in the industry allows me to hear fresh vs broken in speakers regularly. Between different brands and models there is varying break in times. Some don't seem to need any and others take awhile. One brand our shop carries has an extremely long break in time and it's common for the lads in the shop to give the client the choice of taking the broken in display model or a fresh pair. Playing them side by side for the client makes hearing the difference easy.
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#28 of 38 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted March 26 2003 - 05:39 AM

Playing them side by side results in different room interactions too I'd think.

#29 of 38 OFFLINE   Kevin-L



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Posted March 26 2003 - 05:29 PM

i was going to type what RichardHOS about the spider and surround. Those are the only two moving parts and really the only thing that could change is compliance and the change wouldnt be that much to make any difference as far as people saying that they hear a difference before and after that may be true BUT you have to remember a few things. What did you do that day? listen to the stereo in your car? Listen to music at work or else where? Basically you could listen to a semi decent stereo one day and then come home and your system sound good as well but then a week or two goes by and same thing happens OR you just havnt listened to anything in quite some time and your blown away by your system so basically its just your mind Posted Image

and also as noted by RichardHOS your midrange drivers ( unless playing bass ) wont really break in they move a few mm at the most where as your sub ( hopefully if its a good one) moves anywhere from 8-28MM ( there are a few with higher linear excursion but most dont own those) each way. High excursion subs are what would actually break in but even then like its been said the acoustical differences wont be heard. If you run LEAP on your speakers and pull the T/S specs then played them for a day or so etc ( how ever long you wanted ) then if you tested them right after they would test different due to the coils being heated etc BUT let them sit for a while and cool off and then measure your T/S specs again and they will be the same as what they started with orignally.
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#30 of 38 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted March 26 2003 - 07:39 PM

Carlos, If I were you, I would check all wires (involved) for a start, especially the ones to the sub. Is it an active sub? Then just turn the volume up a bit to see if you can get the same results as before. Sometimes the setting of a dial can change, caused by mechanical vibrations in a room, or someone kicking the unit (well you know what I mean). It should be possible to get the same effect again. Do you have a sound-meter (Radio Shack, preferably an analog one, search this forum for 'calibration' to learn more about that). Try calibrating your setup. Probably there's nothing wrong with your sub, but you have to make sure. Good luck! Cees

#31 of 38 OFFLINE   MichaelRS



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Posted March 27 2003 - 12:47 AM

I have the Axiom M60's, recieved them 3 weeks ago. I have to say they do sound differently than when I first got them. Of course I have proably walked 40 miles, between my listening seat and speakers adjusting them millimeter by millimeter to get the speakers set up properly. Using GPS, checking star charts to make sure their alignment is in line with Aries,I am even considering cutting a hole in my family room ceiling, through my bedroom, so I can see the heavens to correctly calculate their alignment with the heavens, I have heard this will improve their sound. But seriously, I have noticed that the speakers sound just fine, depending on the source material. A lot of older analog music sounds terrible. I have listened to some "Bread" CD's and the way they are mixed sounds odd, but the accoustical/vocal music sounds very full & motivating. poorly recorded live music sounds poor. if you have good recordings they will sound fantastic. I spent some time setting up the speakers properly & they sound wonderful, music in 2 channel just surrounds you. I have noticed some brightness when I push the speakers beyond my normal listening levels (way beyond), but some of that is also due to the artists I was listening to. Steven Tylers voice is kind of screechy at times. Take some time set up your speakers properly, pick some well recorded music,and enjoy.

#32 of 38 OFFLINE   Billy C.

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Posted March 28 2003 - 12:36 AM

When I posted this question I was highly skeptical that speaker break-in was a real physical phenomenon. Most of the responses posted here have only reinforced that notion. Based on actual measured performance the quality of sound from a given speaker doesn't change perceptively, if at all, over time. Having said that I will now say that I am more satisfied with my M60's today than I was when I first "laid ears" on them. I have had a chance to do some critical listening and I have come to the conclusion that they actually sound pretty good (with my current receiver - more on that later). I think a couple of factors play into this. The first is purely psychological - my expectations were very high when I first listened to them and I simply expected too much of a difference. The Atlantic Technology speakers that these are replacing are good speakers so I shouldn't have expected as much of a difference as I did. When they didn't "blow me away" I started looking for reasons (too harsh, not enough bass, etc.). Now that I've settled down a bit a really started listening to some good source material I think I was mistaking detail for harshness. I am able to distinguish sounds that I couldn't before. With my AT speakers, some of the more complex passages of music and especially music mixed with dialog in movies were being blurred. I think this makes them generally sound "smoother" but I can now hear that I have been missing a lot of detail with my AT's. It's taken my brain a little while to become accustomed to the way these sound and to get over the initial assault of sounds that I wasn't hearing before from my AT's. The second reason that the M60's didn't rise to my expectations is much easier to quantify: my receiver was severely lacking. For whatever reason, my Pioneer Elite 24TX just isn't putting out a good bass signal (among other things). I replaced the unit with a 47TX 2 nights ago and the difference is astounding. The bass is much more pronounced yet smooth and tight. All of the detail is still there but the mid-range and the bass have really come alive. I won't go into a lot of detail on this since it belongs in the Receivers section. I'll probably start a new thread there comparing the differences I've seen between the 47TX and the 24TX - and let me tell you there's a HUGE gap between them. The Axioms sound wonderful to me now - I am very, very pleased And while switching to a different receiver made the biggest difference here, I am still a believer in break-in. I just think it's my perception that broke-in, not the speakers.

#33 of 38 OFFLINE   Chris Tsutsui

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Posted March 28 2003 - 06:40 AM

JBL does blind tests in an acoustically treated room with several speakers on mechanical turn tables. There is little time between speaker switching and the ppl that audition them, rate the speakers on different accounts. Each time the speakers swap position it is in the same location as the previous. The ppl that audition range from audiophiles to Joe millionaires. The results are compared and graphed and they post conclusions. I don't know if they have done a lot of testing with break-in but I'd have to agree with them based on their knowledge and experience. Oh, one result they consistantly got was that the flatter the frequency response, the more the people enjoyed them.

#34 of 38 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted March 28 2003 - 09:39 AM

Well it always helps to have power commensurate with the needs! Kind of like tooling around town in a high performance sports car and then you buy a trailer to tow your boat...oops, time for some torque! The best thing about realizing that the audible nature of break in is next to nil, is that it puts you, the consumer, in the drivers seat. You know how much time you've got before you can return the speakers and get your money back. So does the salesperson. The salesman, perhaps uniformed, perhaps more informed than you are, would love to make a sale. So if you've got a salesperson, 'specially those snooty ones with the bottle of Obsession up their hindquarters, that tells you that they need to break in more, or that wants to sell you the AudioNervosa Break-In disk, you won't get bamboozled.

#35 of 38 OFFLINE   kevitra


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Posted March 28 2003 - 05:12 PM

[quote] Fong: "i do not believe there is such thing as "breaking in" the speakers, but just your ears." [quote]

I have a pair of ACI Sapphires. I accidentally unplugged an RCA cable when the amp was still on and blew one of the woofers.

ACI sent the replacement ASAP. I installed it and that speaker sound *nothing* like the other one. After I ran it for 100 hours straight, I couldn't tell the difference between the two.

So that was in my head? I imagined it?

There is a member at avsforum that did his own testing of woofers and he found measurable differences between new and 'broken-in' drivers. After 100 hours there is no change, but from 0 to 100 there was.

I'm not suprised at what Alan Lofft said. They are all listening to speakers with hundreds/thousands of hours on them. I'd like to see what they notice if they take a new pair of their reference speaker vs the 'old' pair in a blind test.

#36 of 38 OFFLINE   keir


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Posted March 29 2003 - 07:22 AM

i did an A/B comparison between 1 month old axiom m2i and a brand new one. i couldnt pick which was which.

#37 of 38 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted March 30 2003 - 02:34 AM

not so much that you imagined it, but your listening focus was certainly changed. the changes that occur during breakin tend to be largely offsetting and measurements of those tend to support that they're within general manufacturer's tolerances for the parts. truth be told, when differences are small, it becomes very hard to tell that using extended listening periods.

#38 of 38 OFFLINE   Fong


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Posted March 30 2003 - 04:36 PM

kevitra, did you do a double blind test? if so, then could you consistently pick out which speaker had the old driver? sorry, but i am very skeptical when there hasnt been a test done, or any documented proof to back it up, especially about something like speaker breaking (or other hotly debated topics like speaker wire and interconnects making an audible difference), especially when a known expert (like alan loft for example) disagrees with it. i am a man of science. when something does not sound reasonable, then i need some proof.

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