Speaker Break-in...Fact or fiction?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Frank Zimkas, Aug 23, 2002.

  1. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    I've read a bunch of posts on this and other forums regarding breaking in new speakers. My question is basically this...Does anyone have any REAL data to support their belief that speakers will sound better after X amount of "Break-in"

    No opinions please. Lets see if this is a fact or just everyones ears getting used to their speakers.
     
  2. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Frank,

    If you state that "you do not want opinions" then you will hear..............

    ..... a deafening silence. It is all about personal opinion, IMHO ;^)

    Break in of speakers comes down to .... the factory testing spec, passes(hopefully), boxed, sits, shipped.... arrives at dealer... sits.... is hauled home.... connected...... gets new load (for better or worse) from new owner..... new AC feed , etc....(for better or worse)...

    ...and this and that interconnect/speaker cable connection, "for better or worse". All is not a perfect world once a "tested and passed" speaker leaves the plant.

    Do not forget that to drive a speaker mechanical forces/driver movement/energy come into play. Break-in ? A speaker, IMO, once it leaves the factory, is not capable of performing a seasoned sound out of the box. Some may disagree, but perfection with mechanical parts, driven by a signal is not a simple as microwave popcorn. And even they tell you how long to pop it.......

    BOK
     
  3. Adil M

    Adil M Supporting Actor

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    Fact, and I'll put money behind it.
     
  4. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    I understand that a lot of people believe that their speakers sound better after a period of time and I am not saying that they are wrong.
    My question still stands. No need to wager[​IMG]
    Has anyone seen anything in writting from ANY speaker manufacturer that clearly states that peaker performance WILL improve after a given amount of playing time?
    If a speaker has to break in to achieve the best performance, then it also stands to reason that the performance will degrade after a given period of time. It's kind of like a new engine, you break it in before you stomp on the gas at every green light, and no matter how well you maintain it, the engine will wear out after you've put enough miles on it. This is a fact, it in writing, all we have to do is open up any owners manual from any car on the road today.
    The purpose of this thread is not to inflame or question what anyone claims to hear from their system, but is intended to question a common belief.
    So how about it folks, there has got to be someone out there that has some imperical data to back up this belief.
     
  5. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Just as an aside.... the only speaker which I can think of which is immune to "break-in" ...

    (and which I actually own-- in the den/kids/family room) is the BOSE cube. Yes, it resides in my domecile (the 6 year old AM5, I believe).

    No Bose bash here as it is functional for an active kids room and will not require an EMT call if knocked over during "play".

    Bose=no break-in BOK

    :*)
     
  6. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Honestly Frank, I don't know if you will ever source any true test data accounting for speaker break-in.

    Pretty much every speaker manufacturer states in their OM's that "to achieve the true benefits of X speaker(s) you will need to play said speaker for x days/hours".

    It really is a tail chase here as these manufacturers know that "listener satisfaction" is dependent upon just so many factors beyond their control.

    The break-in "phenomenom" is not so much voodoo as it is just a simple exercize as "running these boxes" with signal for some time to flex the mechanicals per spec. We certainly expect that the manufacturer did all his final spec chart with the speakers running 24/7 for WEEKS ! And the speakers were at MAX load.... etc

    BOK
     
  7. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    Any manufacturers reps want to add their $.02 to this discussion?
     
  8. Juan_R

    Juan_R Supporting Actor

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    I noticed a difference on my Divas after a lot of hours on them. The main reason I noticed this was because I exchanged some broken-in 6.1's with some new 6.1's and the new ones were brighter.
     
  9. itai

    itai Stunt Coordinator

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    how does the manufacturers design their boxes than?
    if they test a new design, they run it for weeks at full, before listening to it? seems weird to me...
     
  10. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    Some Manufacturers, especially high end, pre-break tube amps and speakers in at the factory. Avantgarde pre-breaks their demonstration speakers in, and when I asked the president why? he said "Because were not stupid". [​IMG]
    If you'd like an example of the physics behind it.. rubber surrounds are stiff after first being made, just like a rubber band or balloon you'd buy at the market.
    If you stretch the rubber, like how clowns stretch the balloons, you make it more flexible than its initial state and not as "stiff".
    Breaking in a driver is the same way, it makes the driver more flexible possibly adding more to the xmax (or throw of the driver). The same driver, one with a stiff surround and the other with a not as stiff surround will sound different.
    If you ask why would the different stiffness surrounds have an effect on sound then I'll have to shift gears into my intellectual jargon mode. Unfortunately I only speak normal because Moma always said "Jargons a fallacy".
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    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:
     
  12. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Chu:

    My compliments on another well-written "conspiracy theory" post. While you may well be correct, I'd like to offer the following two comments:

    1. Is it completely unresaonable that the measurements you cite are not all-inclusive, or perhaps not sufficiently precise?

    2. I agree that one's ears grwo accustomed to a new sound. Couldn't one easily deterine of this is the sole cause of "break-in" by having listeners compare (DBT, of course!) two "identical" speakers, one of which has been borken in, the other of which has not?

    In my experience (though apparently not yours), drawing conclusions solely from first principles often leads one astray.

    Larry
     
  13. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    Chu,

    Great response, although a lot of members will disagree, you bring up some very valid points!


     
  14. Frank Zimkas

    Frank Zimkas Supporting Actor

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    Larry,
    Same question in a different format.

     
  15. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Larry: hardly a conspiracy theory as various measurements have been performed: on & off axis, and laser interferometry with the subsequent computer processing isn't exactly fuzzy. now if i were a fan of conspiracy theories i'd be posting in the After Hours Lounge about the Illuminati, how the Masons are really into devil worship, and that crop circles really are caused by aliens! If there's a rebuttal that's involved measurements such as in the reference I've cited I'm not aware of it. Certainly it could have been presented at one of the AES meetings. Insofar as comparing two speakers, pre and post breakin, well Nousaine has essentially done that as I believe Clark and others have. As to electrostatics I have no idea though. If the membrane is stretched beyond its tensioning point is that properly called break-in or breaking-down? Well food for thought.

    I quite realize that people will object but the thing is, if nothing has changed with the speaker's performance and one is hearing something they perceive as different then it does behoove one to look in other directions and to perhaps start to realize the limitations of the hearing process.

    To my understanding the work has been replicated by others with the same findings. There are several companies out there that do use techinques such as laser interferometry in the design of their own products so i'd gather its been replicated. No doubt something as this, which will illicit contrary responses even from speaker manufacturers, if incorrect would have the requisite instrumental measurements to corroborate the opposite opinion.

    Well really Frank, what's the big thing about letting go of the idea? There's only one person that benefits from that and that's you the consumer. Take the speakers home, position them as well as you can, and listen. Assuming the return period is one week, then make your decision after 4 or 5 days. You like them, keep them. You don't take them back and now you at least know if the salesperson says they need more time to break in then you know the real deal. Sure, the stores run a greater risk of people returning stuff but that's the business. I certainly didn't delve into all the reasons to keep the speakers home...yes buyer's remorse is one...getting used to the expenditure, justification, it all can play a part. But really letting go of the idea only can benefit you.

    Mark you're quite entitled to your opinion and I gather you realize that a bit more than a couple of experiments were done. Nousaine's and Clark's emails are a matter of public record. You can take up your objections, whatever they may be with them. Perhaps you can point out to them what parameters have been overlooked. I've given you the publication so for $5 you can get a copy and then raise whatever objections it is that you have. That must cost less than buying a cable and then returning it where you eat s/h both ways, no? As far as making assumptions one could look upon matters as that you're making an assumption that your hearing is relatively infallible and you're able to accurately compare a sound today to one that may be quite similar a week or two ago or even yesterday. Its not such a terrible thing to realize our senses, all of them, have limitations. It's not so terrible to realize we're human.

    This reminds me of the joke where two men were in a bar having a beer and watching a baseball game on TV. The first says I'll bet Boston wins this game. Second says you're on. Game ends and Boston loses and the first reaches for his wallet. The second man says, wait, I can't take your money, this game was played earlier and is being reshown. I knew Boston lost. The first says well I knew that too, I just figured if they showed the game again maybe Boston would win.

    Make of these findings what you will but legitimate, reproducible findings they are. No amount of wishing is going to make them go away so come up with something else other than this is what I heard.
     
  17. Joe Casey

    Joe Casey Stunt Coordinator

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    As far as planars go (Maggies in particular), one thing I've experienced on numerous occasions is the ability to have them 'slap' when driven too hard too soon. The slapping occurs as a result of the mylar diaphragm being slapped into place by a high power low frequency note. Also noticeable, and measurable, at this time is the slightly higher than spec'd lower frequency extension. With usage (over numerous sessions, not within a single session), the slapping goes away and the bass reaches lower.
     
  18. Adil M

    Adil M Supporting Actor

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    I am going to base my opinion on the many times that I had opened brand new speakers at my job. We had multiple pairs out and one pair went in the good, never used sound room and the other went in the mediocre, but often used sound room. I did this on purpose b/c me and another friend were interested. *We both did believe we were going to hear a difference. I did, based on an experience at a Paradigm dealer.
    Anyway we put both speakers in the same sound room and the broken in ones sounded far better. One pair had easily over 50 hours and one had about an hour. The broken-in pair sounded far different in the high end and had more low end which in the case of this speaker wasn't good. There was a difference and I will always believe it. Only w/ subtle differences do I question the reasons. If it's obvious, well shoot that's what my senses are for. They still sound different now a month later. The non-broken in one probably has five hours max on it.

    Unfortunately, some people make subtle differences "appear" like gigantic ones. I'm not one of them.
     
  19. Brian_J

    Brian_J Second Unit

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    Its not so much that your equipment "breaks in" as you do. Listen to one brand for a long period and it will become the norm to you. Do a head to head comparison and you'll find significant differences and might instantly think the other sounds better.

    Brian
     
  20. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    We get used to sound, but break-in does happen with most speakers, and I think this is mainly due to the suspension breaking in on mid/woofers. With some, including my own, the difference was so obvious that right after hooking them up you could play a song, then play it again and you'd realize at the beginning that the sound had changed. Of course, it sounded really bad in those first hours.

    Whether we can notice differences between say 2hr and 100hr of break-in, especially at high levels, is another story.
    (I did notice an improvement in sound after running a very loud 18hz sinewave, driving the woofers past their limits, for a few hours. Even though I had owned the speakers for months, I had not driven them to high enough levels to break in the woofer suspensions.)
     

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