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Old 05-17-2016, 05:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Speaker break-in / run-in question

Hi - I read about "running in" speakers by placing them close together facing each other and then reversing the polarity of one of the speakers. (Cambridge Audio site). It was mentioned that the volume would dramatically decrease as the in phase/out of phase would cancel each other out. - well, I tried this and ... no change in volume that I could hear. Then I dangerously went to youtube and ... saw this in action with a profound difference in volume. Any advice? What could be going on with my setup?

www.cambridgeaudio.com/blog/how-run-speakers?language=fr


I stopped my "experiment"!
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Old 05-17-2016, 05:13 AM
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Nothing.

What you indirectly found out is that "running-in" your speakers are bull****.

You either learn to like the sound or you hate it.
End of story.
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Old 05-17-2016, 05:33 AM
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by oliverweagle View Post
Hi - I read about "running in" speakers by placing them close together facing each other and then reversing the polarity of one of the speakers. (Cambridge Audio site). It was mentioned that the volume would dramatically decrease as the in phase/out of phase would cancel each other out. - well, I tried this and ... no change in volume that I could hear. Then I dangerously went to youtube and ... saw this in action with a profound difference in volume. Any advice? What could be going on with my setup?

www.cambridgeaudio.com/blog/how-run-speakers?language=fr

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZiVr1ib1Ac

I stopped my "experiment"!

Good. No point in wasting your time. Speaker break in occurs in a few seconds and would normally be completed during the quality control process at the factory. Some people say it occurs in a milliseconds.
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Old 05-17-2016, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post
Good. No point in wasting your time. Speaker break in occurs in a few seconds and would normally be completed during the quality control process at the factory. Some people say it occurs in a milliseconds.

The "break-in' of speakers is due to the fact that the suspension material surrounding the cones is usually a bit rigid when it comes from the factory.

It will normally loosen up, or become more compliant, as time goes on. In general, this usually improves sound quality.

Some speaker manufacturers say that it only takes a few hours for most of this to happen, while other say the break-in process can take 100 hours or more for it to be complete.

Break-in is certainly a real physical process, and is not nonsense.

It can vary a lot, though, depending on the materials used in the construction of the drivers, and also whether the manufacturer does some break-in at the factory
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post
The "break-in' of speakers is due to the fact that the suspension material surrounding the cones is usually a bit rigid when it comes from the factory.

It will normally loosen up, or become more compliant, as time goes on. In general, this usually improves sound quality.

Some speaker manufacturers say that it only takes a few hours for most of this to happen, while other say the break-in process can take 100 hours or more for it to be complete.

Break-in is certainly a real physical process, and is not nonsense.

It can vary a lot, though, depending on the materials used in the construction of the drivers, and also whether the manufacturer does some break-in at the factory

I didn't say it was nonsense. I said it occurs in a very short period of time. All speakers sound better with time. It has nothing to do with break in. It is caused by the comfort of familiarity. In other words, it is hearing bias. Yes, I've done tests to confirm what I said.
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Old 05-17-2016, 10:28 AM
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First the best method of breaking in speakers is to simply use them. Really ...forget elaborate scheme like that described in the original post. Just use the speakers, use them as you normally would.

Speakers do mellow with time, but that time can range from Zero to more than 100 hours.

Von Schweikert originally said none of his speaker required any break in at all. However, he said of one of his newest pair of speakers, that they require substantial time to break in.

There is no one right fit-all answer. It varies from speaker to speaker. I estimate that it took my speakers about 200 hours to settle in, which occurred over the course of 3 weeks. Other say perhaps 20 to 50 hours, which most people have no problem with. Again, it takes as long as it takes, but no elaborate efforts are necessary.

So, in the beginning, just put a lot of hours on your speakers, using them normally. Since you paid a pretty penny for your speakers, you probably want to hear them, so putting hours on them in the beginning is usually not a problem.

If you want, you can play the radio all day at modest volumes while you are at work, or put a CD on repeat, or similar.

The main point I'm making is that elaborate schemes like that describe in the original post are completely unnecessary, just enjoy your speakers, and enjoy them a lot in the beginning, and everything will work itself out in the end.

Steve/bluewizard
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Old 05-17-2016, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post
I didn't say it was nonsense. I said it occurs in a very short period of time. All speakers sound better with time. It has nothing to do with break in. It is caused by the comfort of familiarity. In other words, it is hearing bias. Yes, I've done tests to confirm what I said.
I usually just keep my mouth shut on these ongoing subjective v. objective comments, but I really have to ask, what tests? Because the variables involved here are huge. Say you buy a pair of speakers and play one for a month and leave the other one alone. How do you know what kind of use the individual speakers got before you got ahold of them? Maybe one was played and the other not. Maybe the drivers were treated differently in the plant. Lots and lots of maybes, and even if you could control for all variables involved, you've only got ONE data point here, and it really only applies to that pair of speakers, not even that model.


Edited to say I completely agree with Bluewizard though, the best thing to do is to just play them, and play them a lot. If you don't like them after all that, sell them and try again!
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Old 05-17-2016, 04:55 PM
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Thomas Danley (that guy from Danley Sound Labs) did some testing

Generally speaking, it is most noticeable with woofers but the break in period is not days, months etc. He tested a speaker that was brand new VS one that ran for an hour and the other one was a much longer time. There was a difference with the testing (Fs goes down and the stiff suspension becomes more compliant)

After the first hour, does it matter? Slightly but for real world applications, it is a slight improvement.

If you are concerned about it, just run the speaker at Fs to prevent heating up the voice coils and let it run hanging off a coat hanger. Some people do this with subwoofers, then take the T/S parameters and build the box.

Some companies actually break in the drivers before they leave the factory as part of their quality control testing. Community does that with their PA lines.

When I build my own speakers with crossovers I design myself, I will "run them in" overnight and test them the next day at the frequency I wish to design the crossover for. I do this with cone drivers as the dome tweeters showed not difference.

If the speaker is already built, I just play the things and if paranoia hits--just put the pair a few inches apart face-to-face and wire one of them out of phase. Throw some bass heavy music in the player and call it a night. The out of phase trick will cut a lot of SPL so not to disturb you while you sleep.
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:43 PM
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Tom Nousaine did an experiment years ago with speaker drivers (which are the only things that could possibly break in). He measured brand new drivers, then ran them for awhile, then measured them again. Even identical speaker drivers will measure differently, so what you get is a range. After "break-in," every driver was still within that range.

The key uncontrolled variable in most comparisons is the listener. That's what breaks in, not the speaker. Any suggestion otherwise comes from a source best ignored.

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Old 05-17-2016, 06:47 PM
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kind of like the theories on breaking in a new car engine....some say its ready to go full throttle the day you drive it off the lot, others say to break it in first x amount of miles.

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Old 05-17-2016, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by oliverweagle View Post
Hi - I read about "running in" speakers by placing them close together facing each other and then reversing the polarity of one of the speakers. (Cambridge Audio site). It was mentioned that the volume would dramatically decrease as the in phase/out of phase would cancel each other out. - well, I tried this and ... no change in volume that I could hear. Then I dangerously went to youtube and ... saw this in action with a profound difference in volume. Any advice? What could be going on with my setup?

www.cambridgeaudio.com/blog/how-run-speakers?language=fr

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZiVr1ib1Ac

I stopped my "experiment"!
An easy test for why you didn't hear a difference when the speakers are in their normal position- rotate the balance fully to one side- doesn't matter which. If the bass becomes stronger, check the speaker wires because one is reversed. If the external wires are OK, look at the woofers and crossovers- the energy from bass frequencies cancels when one pushes and the other pulls. There are a few causes of cancellation without polarity reversal, but they're rare. In the vast majority or rooms, the sound of the bass you hear from both speakers should be similar.

FWIW, reversing the polarity and facing the speakers together does nothing to help. Any changes to the speakers over time are slight, although it may be audible if it occurs in some frequency ranges. I have measured T-S parameters before/after and saw differences, so it's not complete BS but there's no way to do an A:B comparison of specific speakers because it takes so much time before many believe they're done breaking in.
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Old 05-18-2016, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by davidbeinct View Post
I usually just keep my mouth shut on these ongoing subjective v. objective comments, but I really have to ask, what tests? Because the variables involved here are huge. Say you buy a pair of speakers and play one for a month and leave the other one alone. How do you know what kind of use the individual speakers got before you got ahold of them? Maybe one was played and the other not. Maybe the drivers were treated differently in the plant. Lots and lots of maybes, and even if you could control for all variables involved, you've only got ONE data point here, and it really only applies to that pair of speakers, not even that model.


Edited to say I completely agree with Bluewizard though, the best thing to do is to just play them, and play them a lot. If you don't like them after all that, sell them and try again!
Admittedly, it is universe of one but the test involved 2 pairs of B&W Matrix 801 speakers. The dealer was going to unbox a pair to deliver to a customer so we compared the pair to his floor models that had been in use for 3 months. We ran a bias controlled test with our panel of 10. The results were the same as guessing. No audible difference. Strangely it wasn't even necessary to level match the comparison. I guess that speaks well for B&W's quality control.


I have no problem with the concept of listening to speakers at home. In fact I recommend it. So I agree with that part of Wizard's post as well. I didn't say speakers sound the same. I said the improvement in sound over time is not break-in. It is psychoacoustics.
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Old 05-18-2016, 05:29 AM
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kind of like the theories on breaking in a new car engine....some say its ready to go full throttle the day you drive it off the lot, others say to break it in first x amount of miles.
The tolerances in engine manufacturing have improved vastly over the last 20..30 years. So a modern Japanese or German car can go full throttle from day one.
American muscle cars do need a break in for the first xxx amount of miles,
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:24 PM
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I have owned many loudspeakers. Most required minimal break-in. Occasionally a few hours were needed. The worst example was my Dahlquist Preludes, which remained edgy and rough sounding in the upper midrange for many days. On the verge of being returned to the dealer, they finally smoothed out after more than 100 hours of break-in (in a closed room at moderate volume). There is no single rule for all loudspeakers.

Here are recommendations from Paradigm and Definitive Technology, respectively:

"Although Paradigm Reference speakers sound great 'out of the carton,' they will sound even better once they are 'broken in.' Allow them to play for several hours before you begin any critical listening." (OM-1000 user manual, page 2.)

"Your Mythos ST-L Supertowers should sound good right out of the box; in fact, there is no specific break-in period. The best recommendation we can make is to play your speakers. We have found that after around 40-60 hours (or more) of normal playing, the suspensions work in, and this results in fuller bass, a more open 'blossoming' midrange and smoother high frequency reproduction." (User manual, p. 19.)

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Old 05-19-2016, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Alex F. View Post
I have owned many loudspeakers. Most required minimal break-in. Occasionally a few hours were needed. The worst example was my Dahlquist Preludes, which remained edgy and rough sounding in the upper midrange for many days. On the verge of being returned to the dealer, they finally smoothed out after more than 100 hours of break-in (in a closed room at moderate volume). There is no single rule for all loudspeakers.

Here are recommendations from Paradigm and Definitive Technology, respectively:

"Although Paradigm Reference speakers sound great 'out of the carton,' they will sound even better once they are 'broken in.' Allow them to play for several hours before you begin any critical listening." (OM-1000 user manual, page 2.)

"Your Mythos ST-L Supertowers should sound good right out of the box; in fact, there is no specific break-in period. The best recommendation we can make is to play your speakers. We have found that after around 40-60 hours (or more) of normal playing, the suspensions work in, and this results in fuller bass, a more open 'blossoming' midrange and smoother high frequency reproduction." (User manual, p. 19.)

Manufacturers use this kind of language because they know that the owners will like the sound better over time because of familiarity. It reduces returns.
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Old 05-19-2016, 10:58 AM
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I finally heard this happen when I bought the second set of the Pioneer FS-52s and for giggles placed them side by side on the A, B selector on the integrated amp. I was a little surprised how much difference there was, especially at and around the crossover point. Although the speakers looked identical, I could easily pick out which pair was which. After only 20 hours or so the woofers came around, bit it took a lot longer in re the high end. After maybe 75-100 hours I could no longer tell the difference without looking at packing slip for serial numbers. The serve me well today as speakers stands.

This is slightly different, but I had it happen again when I dragged the 35 yr old Sequerras Met7s out of storage and took them home so first thing I did was compared them to my Elac B6s. The Sequerras imaged superbly, and better than my B6s, but they were real rough on the high end. It took a few days for them to come back around, but now they're are clearly superior to me on the high end and imaging versus the B6s with the Elacs still better in the bass.
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Old 05-19-2016, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post
Manufacturers use this kind of language because they know that the owners will like the sound better over time because of familiarity. It reduces returns.
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
I finally heard this happen when I bought the second set of the Pioneer FS-52s and for giggles placed them side by side on the A, B selector on the integrated amp. I was a little surprised how much difference there was, especially at and around the crossover point. Although the speakers looked identical, I could easily pick out which pair was which. After only 20 hours or so the woofers came around, bit it took a lot longer in re the high end. After maybe 75-100 hours I could no longer tell the difference without looking at packing slip for serial numbers. The serve me well today as speakers stands.

This is slightly different, but I had it happen again when I dragged the 35 yr old Sequerras Met7s out of storage and took them home so first thing I did was compared them to my Elac B6s. The Sequerras imaged superbly, and better than my B6s, but they were real rough on the high end. It took a few days for them to come back around, but now they're are clearly superior to me on the high end and imaging versus the B6s with the Elacs still better in the bass.
Scotth3886: It must be the "familiarity" thing. The improvements you mentioned did not occur. In reality, you became more familiar with the sonic shortcomings and now you like a rough high end.

In my case with the Dahlquist loudspeakers discussed earlier, they did not really smooth out. As I became more familiar with them I subconsciously learned to enjoy a rough upper midrange. In fact, when I visit an audio dealer to shop for new speakers, I always ask them to recommend models that have a rough upper midrange. If they say they don't have any to demo, I walk out. Now that I am familiar with a rough upper midrange, I cannot live without it.

Also, as we learned from the post above, never listen to the advice and recommendations of Paradigm and Definitive Technology. Obviously they know far less about loudspeaker design and manufacturing than does the poster or they are liars about break-in. Maybe both. How can these two companies with their limited knowledge about loudspeakers possibly compete with the vast experience and insight of the poster?

I think I will now go listen to the Dahlquists and savor some rough-sounding female vocalists.

Theater room: Panasonic TC-P65S60 plasma television; Yamaha Aventage RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer; Sony BDP-S6500 Blu-ray player.
Music room: McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Audible Illusions (tube) preamp, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 amplifier, Acoustic Research AR9 and Dahlquist Prelude loudspeakers, Onkyo DX-7555 and Melos (tube) CD players, Phase Linear 8000II turntable.
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Old 05-19-2016, 09:03 PM
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Scotth3886: It must be the "familiarity" thing. The improvements you mentioned did not occur. In reality, you became more familiar with the sonic shortcomings and now you like a rough high end.

In my case with the Dahlquist loudspeakers discussed earlier, they did not really smooth out. As I became more familiar with them I subconsciously learned to enjoy a rough upper midrange. In fact, when I visit an audio dealer to shop for new speakers, I always ask them to recommend models that have a rough upper midrange. If they say they don't have any to demo, I walk out. Now that I am familiar with a rough upper midrange, I cannot live without it.

Also, as we learned from the post above, never listen to the advice and recommendations of Paradigm and Definitive Technology. Obviously they know far less about loudspeaker design and manufacturing than does the poster or they are liars about break-in. Maybe both. How can these two companies with their limited knowledge about loudspeakers possibly compete with the vast experience and insight of the poster?

I think I will now go listen to the Dahlquists and savor some rough-sounding female vocalists.

"It must be the "familiarity" thing. The improvements you mentioned did not occur. In reality, you became more familiar with the sonic shortcomings and now you like a rough high end. "


^^^^^ /sarc ^^^^^ Got it.

That might well be the case if I didn't have anything else to compare it to. In my case I already had a pair of identical FS-52, but many months old, and then my brand new pair of FS-52s, and sitting side by side. One on speaker selector A and the other one on B. Same cables, same cable length, same banana connectors, side by side. It was double blind .... just took my glasses off. I mean the speakers look absolutely identical with the only difference being how they sounded at first. Both sets are cosmetically perfect. I used to have a great memory for numbers ..... not anymore. When I wanted to confirm I had to get packing slip and magnifying glass to see serial numbers.

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