Headphone Burn-In Explained

Headphone burn-in is a term which refers to “breaking in” your new headset by wearing it for a while and making multiple sound adjustments. But is this really necessary? Below is an explanation for this phenomenon.

How Headphones Produce Sound

Headphones are essentially miniature speakers which you wear on your head. It uses a diaphragm and voice coil, and when electric signals are transmitted into the unit and it comes into contact with the coil, an electromagnetic type field is generated which makes the diaphragm vibrate.

This back and forth motion creates aerial disruptions which produces the sound waves that you hear. The concept of burn in is closely connected to this process. The principle behind it is that when you generate sound within headphones for an extended timespan, the continual heat and movement will cause the rigid diaphragm to become loose along with the headphone’s internal components.

Headphones Tend To Be “Rigid” When First Purchased

When you buy a new pair of headphones and remove it from the packaging for the first time, they will feel a bit rigid. This refers both to the physical object itself and the sound it produces.

As you begin wearing and using the headset, the unit will become acclimated to the contours of your head and will gradually feel more comfortable around your ears, and the sound quality should increase over time.

Which Sounds Are Best For Burn-In?

This is a topic of debate among headphone aficionados. For instance, there are those who believe that pink noise is the best option for breaking your headset in, while others say you should use random sounds or different types of music with varying frequency ranges.

How Long Does It Take?

This is another variable which is hotly debated. While some say it takes approximately forty hours to break in a new pair of headphones, there are others who claim that you only need about ten hours.

It must be noted that definitive measurements don’t exist which reveal a major difference between the time a headset is used and the sound quality, though there are magazines and individuals who’ve conducted frequency charting. In most cases the frequency charts involved a scale no higher than 1db and are usually less, and critics say that this is much too small for accurately detecting audio differences in a meaningful way.

Quality Assurance

It is believed by many that the theory of burn in is derived from quality assurance teams and the tests they performed for headsets on behalf of audio companies. These tests are designed to ensure that the components can remain viable even after being subject to many hours’ worth of playback.

If the components degrade in any way during the testing phase, this is a sign that the headphones are unfit for usage. That being said, there are highly respected audio experts who have stated emphatically that they did notice a difference between headphones that were newly purchased and those that had been used for some time.

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