How and what is to "break-in" speakers?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tien_N, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Tien_N

    Tien_N Agent

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    Hello everyone,
    I just got a new set of Infinity interlude towers and center channel. I'm new to the HT market so I've been reading several reviews on them and noticed some people saying that they had to "break-in" the speakers before the best sound is accomplished by the speaker. Can anyone explain to me what this means and what is the purpose of it?
     
  2. Tim Morton

    Tim Morton Stunt Coordinator

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    Generally speaking, brealing in a speaker can be done with either music or pink noise playing continuously for a few days at a mid to low volume..say when you are gone for a weekend or someting like that. Its something that used to be in favor back in the day. Do you have to do it? Lets just say if it makes you feel better then go ahead. Will you see any harm if you don't...nah!!! it always seemed to me that the more expensive the product the mre you used to hear how wonderful and open it sounded after breaking in..like they were talking about leting wine breath[​IMG] Personally i think people just get used to the sound over time and think that it sounds better.
     
  3. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    There is a metal spring on each driver called the "spider". It is extra stiff at first and loosens up in the first few hours of use. It will continue to loosen up over the first few weeks.

    Several of the stereo magazines take speakers and put them in a room to play for 24 hours before letting the reviewers in to set them up and write their review.

    The "play low to moderate volume" while you are at work is a fine suggestion. There are snake-oil places that will sell you a special 'break in' CD, but I'd avoid these.

    Just load a favorite CD of yours and put it on a A->B loop.
     
  4. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Bob,


    Just to correct you a bit (please don't ban me!) [​IMG]

    The Spider is part of any piston speaker's suspension and
    is made of woven cloth (not a metal spring,but it does act
    like a spring)

    The Spider works in conjuction with the Surrround (the part
    that connects the cone to the basket)to limit the drivers
    excursion (mechanical movement) in either direction.

    A speaker is a mechanical motor that moves air, it has a
    piston Diaphram (Cone), Suspension (Surround,Spider) and
    a driving mechanism (Voice Coil(s),Magnets) to function.

    And any of these parts can loosen up as the speaker is put
    to use for the first couple of hours. The Voice coil(s) will
    heat up and settle in, the surrounds will become more pliable
    as will the spider.


    With all that said, I like to break in my speakers playing
    Beethoven's Midnight Sonata. It can make a $20.00 set of
    speakers sound like a $20,000.00 pair.. (Yes that was pure
    rubbish!) [​IMG]
     
  5. Andres Munoz

    Andres Munoz Cinematographer

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    What a coincidence, I was going to start a new thread on this.

    Last night I received my brand new Home Theater Direct Tower Speakers and Level III center channel. I was thinking about calibrating them last night but I remembered about the break-in period.

    So I got out my Video Essentials DVD and A/B'd the pink noise for the 3 front speakers. The speakers have been playing that pink noise since last night at "medium" volume level. Tonight when I get home from work, I'll stop playing the pink noise and calibrate the speakers. That would be roughly a 24 hour break-in period (is that enough?).

    So I was going to ask is the following:

    If you get new speakers and calibrate them right away without breaking them in, would there be a need to calibrate them again after they're broken in?
     
  6. Jim_P

    Jim_P Stunt Coordinator

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    "Tonight when I get home from work, I'll stop playing the pink noise and calibrate the speakers. That would be roughly a 24 hour break-in period (is that enough?)."

    My experience with Atlantic Tech 450e system speakers is that during the first few hours they change a lot. Then playing them about 8 hours a day for a couple of weeks while I'm away at work also improved them. I prefer Michael Jackson Thriller to pink noise.lol. At six and twelve months, they have further changed.

    You might want to rough in the subwoofer intergration with your speakers after the 24 hours with the plan of coming back in a few weeks, and again at 6 and 12 month intervals to tweak it.
     
  7. Tien_N

    Tien_N Agent

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    Thanks for the great reply guys. So would I have to do the same for a subwoofer also?

    And one more question, would leaving the grills off the the speakers allow for it sound better, specifically the highs? B/c I used to be a car audiophile and when leaving the cloth [factory] grills over the car speakers, it would dampen out the highs alot. Plus leaving the grills off makes the speakers look so much cooler! Let me know how you guys have your speakers set up. Regards. [​IMG]
     
  8. Brian Kleinke

    Brian Kleinke Supporting Actor

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    Speakers can be designed for use with or without the grills I prefer my Polk LSi's with the grills on. It basically depends upon the speaker and the listener.
     
  9. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Some speakers are designed for grills. I think one of
    Paradigm's models grill is even part of the baffle?

    So in some cases removeing the grills can be detrimental
    but it would say so in the documentation. The grill fabric
    is "acousticaly transparent" so it is not suposed to harm
    the high frequency dissipation. I run mine with the grills
    off for asthetics but I hear no difference with them on.

    It's personal taste..

    And yes Subwoofers break in too...
     
  10. Andrew_B

    Andrew_B Stunt Coordinator

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    Break-in is a myth.
     
  11. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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  12. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Andrew,

    So you are saying that mechanical objects do not seat in?
    I think anyone that understands sheer mechanics would agree
    that a Speaker is a Motor and it's numerous components
    (Suspension, Piston, Motor Structure) do indeed settle in
    after useage.

    But hey we all have our opinions. I don't believe that
    cable elevators make a difference in sound, some people
    swear they do...
     
  13. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    My general position on the break-in phenomena is that it's much ado about nothing or maybe better put as much ado about not too much audible differences. If your not sure that you like the Infinity's you've purchased and listening to them for a time period that DOES NOT EXCEED the time that you can return them for a refund hasn't helped matters, by all means return them. Don't let the dealer tell you they'll get better with time. The body of work doesn't support such a statement.
    The following I've written before. Please consider it.

    The topic of speaker break-in has been studied rather extensively using techniques such as laser interferometry, measurements of speaker parameters, and controlled listening tests.

    David Clark, an AES Fellow presented "Precision Measurement of Loudspeaker Parameters", which was published in the March, 1997. Abstracting from that paper is the following quote:

     
  14. Tien_N

    Tien_N Agent

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    Wow Chu Gai,
    Thanks alot for the great post, that's to all u guys. Really helped me understand more about the "break-in" period. Well some people agree and some disagree. But all in all, doesn't hurt to try it anyways. Thanks!
     
  15. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I am very much in Chu's camp. I believe 99% of speaker "break-in" is in our heads. Each speaker has its own signature and our brains are amazingly adept at sorting out that signature and making them sound nice. I know that it takes me a while to get used to a new set of speakers or headphones. I won't deny it, it happens in my brain, not in the mechanical parts of the speakers.
     
  16. Henry_W

    Henry_W Stunt Coordinator

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    Not to be contrary or controlled set scientific study, but my experience with an SVS was the following:

    After aproximately 4 hours out of box adjusted to VE 75db at primary listening positon - Adjusted after 30 minutes continuous play.

    2 months later - same criteria (adjust to VE 75db after 30 minutes continuous play) the sub initial reading was 5db hot - adjusted accordingly.

    10 months later - installed my DIY center (a Klipsch heresy tweet, squawk, Xover with Fostex woofers - another story someday - very nice sound) and did an all around VE setup - again after 30 minutes continuous and no adjustment was necessary on the sub.

    What this means I am not sure, other than some where between 4 hours of operation and the 2 month setup the sub had changed and that no further change occurred over the next ten months. Seems that some sort of break in happened.

    FWIW
     
  17. Jim_P

    Jim_P Stunt Coordinator

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    Answering your question about do subs also have a break in period. My Velodyne HGS-15 Series II, definately had one.
     
  18. ErichH

    ErichH Screenwriter

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    Break In is common knowledge in the recording industry. Funny that it's even questioned by home users.
    The large drivers in most studios go beyond break in and get too loose. Replacement drivers are a fact of life for those guys.
    Most of us will never push them the way they do.
    Eric
     
  19. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    well if you're adjusting with an SPL, they're notoriously inaccurate. my general point regarding the break in period is that one should never 'hope' a speaker will break in and then find themselves in a position to be unable to return it. Just looking out for #1`and that's us. BTW, I'm still not used to my insane sister in law.
     
  20. Jim_P

    Jim_P Stunt Coordinator

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    Chu

    Good point about being stuck with a dud. It's like the Pontiac dealer that told me that the transmission would shift smoother after it's broken in. Well, it never did.

    Part of the problem is also for people who don't know exactly what to listen for. Advanced entheusiast can(should)be able tell right away, whereas someone relatively new knows that they should be listening for something, but don't exactly know what.

    I still think your point is well taken, that the return period should be long enough to have the speaker break in enough to know if you want to keep them.

    Jim
     

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