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Thread: Burn In or What

  1. #1
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    Burn In or What

    I got an amp back from repair. This amp has thousands of hours of use on it. The repairs were mostly changing the way it was internally grounded. While the amp was out of my system for 3+ weeks, I had another amp in. When I put the repaired amp back in, I was immediately aware the deficiency in the repaired amp. The way it presents music. What the replacement amp was doing better. After a few days, I started to like some of what I was hearing from the repaired amp. After a few days I am thinking the repaired amp actually sounds pretty good. I'm pretty confident nothing has changed accept I am use to the way it sounds now and looking for what I like, so over all enjoying it more. Makes me question the whole burn in to some degree. How much actually changes, and how much is just our minds.

    Makes me wonder when someone gets a cable and says it sounds bad, but a few weeks later is loving it. I wonder how they would feel if they removed the cable and put the original back in for 3 weeks. Then put the new one in again. Would they all over say the new one was no good and needed to resettle. Then in a couple weeks declare it was great.

    I agree, over time the way I perceive something changes. What I appreciate when getting something new is putting it in and immediately perceiving "This Is Better". When I get a component, put it in and find its no better or worse, I don't think I need to sit out an extended break in. IMO what's new should be an improvement right out of the box and only improve over time.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Burn In or What

    I have found that snap judgements on the subsequent change in sound when substituting a new/different piece of gear in my system has mostly been misleading.
    Over time with the component in the system I have been better able to identify the changes and more accurately determine if they were truly better or just different.
    Break-in is real. Especially with capacitors that have been replaced when having a piece of gear upgraded or repaired.
    Speakers are the other main component that really need a proper break-in period.
    But all of a system and components benefit from a break-in.
    Case in point, When I return to Michigan in the spring after wintering in Florida and fire up my system it sounds cold and tight. But after a few days of playing it loosens up and returns to it's "old" self.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Burn In or What

    Do we still have any popcorn?

  4. #4
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    Re: Burn In or What

    In my book, if anything does not show signs of improvement of what it replaces upon placing it into service, then it may not be for you.

    Yes, I do believe it will be a rollercoaster as it burns or settles in.

    But to think itís gonna not sound good until 500 hours is beyond my level of patience and borderline BS.


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  5. #5
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    Re: Burn In or What

    I got some milk duds and mike and ikes. Why do I like poking the hornet nest.

    I just found it funny I'm liking my amps more and more over time. As I forget what the others do better, I like what I have. It will be interestimg my perception when I get the second set back from updates. What will I think of either. Probably love them both so I will have to sell them to see if I can like something else even better.🚀

  6. #6

    Re: Burn In or What

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingrex View Post
    Makes me question the whole burn in to some degree. How much actually changes, and how much is just our minds.
    Unfortunately, I haven't had the joy of taking any equipment out of the box for years.
    But I remember it well when I bought my Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home. They sounded nothing like the exact same demo model that I had the opportunity to try at home at the time. Time has achieved this effect. But my strongest experience in the field of bur in and which reinforced my conviction that it is real and put aside the hypothesis of just being a matter of habituation, happened also many years ago with a CD player from Marantz. I remember perfectly the tremendous disappointment I felt because it was practically impossible to hear human voices as they sounded harsh, aggressive and full of wheezing. Without thinking about any burn in, I found myself listening to only instrumental music (classical, electronic) for about 15 days. At the end of this time, wanting to hear something with a voice, I put back one of my favorite fado CDs. And to my absolute surprise, the voice no longer had the initial harshness, on the contrary it was smooth and crystal clear. There was no chance of getting used to it because during the 15 days I didn't hear anything with voices because it was really unbearable. This was my most remarkable experience in terms of burn in.

  7. #7

    Re: Burn In or What

    I believe "break in" is about 80% equipment and 20% listener .

  8. #8
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    Re: Burn In or What

    Quote Originally Posted by stereogeek View Post
    I believe "break in" is about 80% equipment and 20% listener .
    That sounds about right .

    I have noticed that most new components (and to a smaller degree one that has not been used for months) sound on the bright side and a bit harsh. I also believer this is subtle, not huge. I have found that the new component settles into their sound in about 50 hours. Many will continue improving up to 100 hours and very subtle improves may continue for a bit longer.

    Anything huge out of wack is not right and anything that says you need hundreds of hours before it will "sound good" is just plain malarkey . But settling in is real in my view from what I have observed with many new components, for a short amount of time and improving very slightly for some more hours.
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  9. #9

    Re: Burn In or What

    I've had a lot of gear over the years, including times with a new piece and a used piece of the same model. Deep down, I do feel a lot (though not all) of the "burn in" phenomenon is psychological. We're the biggest variable in our systems. Though there are certainly times when I swear something significant has changed in a component's sound quality during the first 20 - 300 hours. Mostly headphones, cartridges, and step-up transformers. But here too there are exceptions - Stax headphones (SR-009) seem to have no burn-in effect whatsoever (I've had a new vs. old 009 on hand a few times). I haven't personally experienced any of those magical 500+ hour burn in corner-turn with electronics components, though to be honest if a major component doesn't sound anywhere near great in its first 150 hours, I'm not going to have too much patience left for it going forward. And with SUT's and cartridges, they seem to mostly get where they're going within 40 hours, max.

    There is one time I had a tube headphone amp repaired which involved a replacement of the output capacitors. The tech swore that the new caps needed "a lot" of burn in but then they would sound good. The amp sounded awful, like something was seriously wrong. Huge amounts of the music missing. It turns out he had put the tiny 0.47 uF bypass caps IN SERIES with the main 200 uF caps. And the net effect of that (with a quick lookup on the internet) was a high-pass filter that was -3dB at 1000 Hz for my given headphones! So not only was there absolutely ZERO bass, a lot of the midrange was missing too. There is NO AMOUNT of burn-in that was fixing that. I think that's a good warning to remember that if something sounds really wrong, DON'T count on burn in to fix it - there's a good chance there may actually be something really wrong!

  10. #10
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    Re: Burn In or What

    To me and a friend with multiple amps and gear, there’s absolutely a change that takes place over time. Both of us independently confirmed that even swapping amps and not touching anything else takes several days, 3-4 sometimes, to settle down and give back that wonderful sound we are used to hearing from the gear in the first place. We know it’s crazy but full bloom takes a while.

    My brother just mentioned to me yesterday that he feels that the worse a piece sounds out of the box becomes the better sounding piece over time. If you immediately love something, that love tends to fade quickly. Sort of like listening to an album, the songs you don’t initially enjoy tend to become favorites.
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  11. #11

    Re: Burn In or What

    Quote Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
    To me and a friend with multiple amps and gear, thereís absolutely a change that takes place over time. Both of us independently confirmed that even swapping amps and not touching anything else takes several days, 3-4 sometimes, to settle down and give back that wonderful sound we are used to hearing from the gear in the first place. We know itís crazy but full bloom takes a while.
    Quote Originally Posted by joeinid View Post
    My brother just mentioned to me yesterday that he feels that the worse a piece sounds out of the box becomes the better sounding piece over time. If you immediately love something, that love tends to fade quickly. Sort of like listening to an album, the songs you donít initially enjoy tend to become favorites.


    Fortunately I got my ARC Reference 6 (notorious for a long and frustrating burn-in process) used with 520 hours. I have close to 3000 hours on it now. My VAC phono stage and 200iQ amplifiers sounded great brand new out of the box - though yes, I guess I could say they sound even better today after hundreds/thousands of hours. Certainly the "immediate love" phenomenon is something that even experienced audiophiles can still fall victim to. However my theory is that in many of these cases the component is accentuating certain parts of the music, in a significant deviation from a neutral, natural sonic balance. At first, this can thrill us with a new perception of familiar favorite music - we can seemingly notice new details for the first time! However I think it is again mostly a psychological trick on our brains - the accentuations & aberrations caused our brains to process the recordings in a different way for the first time. BUT if you go back to old gear again and listen for those "new details" I guarantee you will (usually, at least) hear those "new details" there too - they're just not as shoved into the forefront. And these kinds of "tricks" tend to wear out their welcome very quickly! Anyways, of course some "immediate loves" turn out to be enduring - otherwise that would be incredibly depressing, lol. My personal examples of this include: Koetsu cartridges, Tannoy speakers, Stax Headphones, some VAC electronics, etc.

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Burn In or What

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