Speaker break-in period?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John_Bilbrey, Jan 22, 2002.

  1. John_Bilbrey

    John_Bilbrey Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Messages:
    196
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    What's this all about? I've heard of breaking in an engine, but never a speaker. Is there a standard practice for this?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2001
    Messages:
    2,210
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's controversial, but it does exist (to some ears).

    Rule of thumb is that it takes anywhere from 30-100 hours to "break-in" a speaker and somewhere in the realm of 70 hours to "break-in" an amplifier.

    The moving parts in a speaker (woofers, mids and tweeters) are stiff coming out of the box. Initially they will not flex the proper amount when asked to reproduce the music. This affects the sound and alters it somewhat. Once the moving parts in the speaker loosen up with time (drivers, voice coils, etc.) then they can therefore reproduce the sound more accurately. Highs soften, bass becomes tighter, etc.

    I cannot substanciate the claims regarding Amplifier break-in for I do not know the intricacies of that process, maybe somebody else can do that topic justice.
     
  3. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2001
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    To break in speakers, just turn 'em on and play your tuner (save wear and tear on other moving parts) for extended periods of time (while you're sleeping or at work) at normal volume.

    I'm pretty skeptical about break in claims (receivers, cables), but it makes sense to me that speaker characteristics will change as you flex the drivers.
     
  4. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    1,069
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    With woofers JBL Pro measures for TS parameters after a 2 hour exercise at full rated power (that's 600 watts for my 2226s), they say that the long term charecteristics are then in place. Seeing as they sell drivers and speakers to be used as tools to a no-nonsense clientele I'm inclined to believe them.
     
  5. Luis A

    Luis A Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    414
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    John,
    It also depends on what speakers you are using. A recent e-mail at work suggested a break in time for Martin Logan speakers to be about 100 hrs when played at 95db running them full range. However my wifes ML system took about 2 1/2 months, while my M&K system took about a week, and my kids Deftech system took about a week also.[​IMG]
    L
     
  6. Christian Speights

    Christian Speights Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 1999
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I always wondered about this too. It makes sense that a speakers moving parts will come into their own after some period of use.

    However...

    What if I am accustomed to my home system: deep bass, crisp highs, liquid midrange

    Then, I go on vacation. I am listening to the system in a rental car mostly. What initially seems horrible (weak bass, smeared highs, hollow mids) starts to grow on me. It's not that bad. Certainly not great, but liveable.

    Sound realistic? I wonder how much of the differences in sound during a break in period are due to the changing mechanical functions of the speaker and how much is due to the listener getting acclimated to that speaker's sound.

    One could reasonably assume that it is an entirely new set of speakers. New manufacturer...different model. I know how hard upgraditis can hit. But what if "burn in" is just us getting used to them?

    Not trying to debunk one side or the other...just wondering.
     
  7. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    548
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    So what's this? We're suppose to play them loud when we're breaking in the speakers or should we play them at our own personal normal volume or should we play them a bit quieter than usual and break it in like we break a car in.
     
  8. BryanW

    BryanW Agent

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2001
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Break in is a fact I ran mine on the 5 channel setting with the radio off station just the hissing noise at normal volume for a couple of days while at work and it made a big diference good luck[​IMG]
     
  9. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2001
    Messages:
    548
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Why the hissing noice?
     
  10. Paul_Moody

    Paul_Moody Auditioning

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2000
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Until recently I thought that speaker break-in was a myth, especially with my 'the kids need shoes' budget. Then in November replaced my Radio Shack Optimus mains and cc with Infinity Entra Ones. I know that these are not popular on this board but in my listening tests I found that I would have to go up to Paradigm Mini Monitors to sound better and pay about 40% more.

    In the store the Entra's sounded pretty good. When I first got them home I was not as impressed, although they sounded a lot better than the Radio Shack's.

    About 3 weeks ago I was watching O Brother Where Art Thou on Starz when I suddenly realized that they sounded great. Spoken voice, singing, bullets wizzing, rain falling. All were crisp, clear and on the money sonically. I then played a few choice cd's and dvd's and confimed to my ear that the speakers had 'clicked'. I don't think that it is just me getting used to the speakers since on material played before this happened I can hear new details.

    I still don't think that $1000 speaker wire will make any difference.
     
  11. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Messages:
    2,050
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Also consider ambient room temperature.

    My HT is in the Man Cave - basement.

    It's cold down there, say 60 - 65 degrees. I kick on supplemental heat when I'm down there for longer than 20 minutes.

    Anyway, I was thinking that the surrounds on the woofers (especially the thicker stuff on the SV) must loose a bit of flexibility when cool, resulting in decreased sensitivity, right?

    I DO know that as the SV 'broke in' it became more sensitive, since I've bottomed the trim out at -10, re-calibrated at -5, and eventually wound up at -7 from there.
     
  12. Randy Prue

    Randy Prue Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2001
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Bryan:

    I read a very specific recommendation to not use a test signal (or the hissing noise) to break in speakers. They recommend (in the Athena owners manual) music with a variety of sounds. Your objective is not to develop the part of your speakers that make hiss. You want to make them work and move, to limber them up!

    Get 'em loosie, goosie.
     
  13. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Messages:
    1,209
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think a good test would be to listen to a dealers "broken-in" speakers that are on the floor...then ask him to unpack and connect a fresh set and do an A/B comparison. Obviously results will vary with each manufacturer.
     
  14. Randy Prue

    Randy Prue Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2001
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Drew:

    Then tell the dealer you want a discount on the new ones you just asked them to open because "Hey, they've been used!"

    :)
     
  15. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2001
    Messages:
    640
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    "Break-in" does exist. I calibrated my new mains with my RS meter and VE when I first set them up. After a couple weeks I noticed my levels didn't seem to sound quite right anymore, it wasn't drastic just a bit different. So I recalibrated and realized that my mains (and only my mains) were +3dB off, meaning they were now 3dB "hotter" than the rest of my speakers. I'm certain that break-in resulted in an efficiency improvement, and IMO a more fluid and dynamic sound.
     
  16. Randy Prue

    Randy Prue Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2001
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    What I gather is...

    The manufacturers say that break-in takes about 100 hours or less.

    The folks who have noticed a difference, or measured it, all seem to say that it takes a few weeks. Maybe it takes that long to use the speakers for 100 or so hours.

    I've had a pair on non-stop (24 hours/day) for close to 100 hours now. This weekend, I would like to make a decision/choice (the other set, for comparison, has already broken in, and I'd like to compare them both "broken in".

    I guess I'll know soon enough (the "losers" will stay here, but as rear speakers).
     
  17. Ken Stokes

    Ken Stokes Agent

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 1998
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Break in is very real but will depend on brand. I've owned a few speakers in my day, some requiring very little break in. My last upgrade was to Aerial LR5s and this is the longest break in I've ever experienced. I almost returned them new as the sound was very poor. At fifty hours they sounded much better. The big difference came at approximately 150 hours. They opened up and started to sound like the wonderful speakers they are. Friends are amazed and I am smiling ear to ear. I can't believe that it took this long!

    Ken
     
  18. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2001
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Some people have actually measured a pair of speakers out of the box, then played one for a few days, and measured both again. They found differences that would be audible. I don't have references for this statement, so I cannot substantiate it.
     
  19. LarrySkelly

    LarrySkelly Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2001
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It probably varies by speaker, but I can vouch that new Martin-Logans improve dramatically during the break-in period. Out of the box they sound very compressed and confined, none of the spaciousness or detail that you buy them for. After break-in there was an enormous improvement, not at all subtle. And the best ones I've heard are always a few years old.

    I ran them on a combination of white noise and FM music, for a few weeks.

    Its not the drivers that break in, in my experience. M-L's are electrostatics, there is very little that's mechanical to 'loosen up'. Its the electronics in the crossovers. A manufacturers rep once showed me a top-down cross section of a brand new capacitor from a crossover, showing uniformly wound foil. After break-in the foil had waves in it, like looking at a flower top-down. So I think its mostly the electronics that benefit from the break-in period.

    Larry
     
  20. kevin_tomb

    kevin_tomb Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2001
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I find hard to believe a spearker needs break in at least as far as to make it "SOUND GOOD". I can understand manufacturers saying a break in period is good right out of the box. My whole problem with the "break-in" theory is just that...its a theory. Sure I can see a woofer surround loosening up a bit after being played very loudly with high excursions, thats simple to believe.
    And I can sorta see how a tweeter or mid could "VERY" slightly" change in resonance. But claims of the speaker totally changing and "becoming listenable"????? I think these responces are falling into the "STRANGE TWEAKS" category. If this break-in causes such a drastic change in 100 hours of listening what prohibits it from continuing on to further change thruout the life of the speaker???? Will the sound "change" every 100 hours after that?? (just using 100 hours as an example) I think a lot of it has to do with the "the longer you listen theory" Youve just spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and it better sound good and even better the next week...!!![​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

Share This Page