Is the concept of speaker break in true? - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 07:31 AM
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Sometimes it's useful to look at the science. Dr. Floyd Toole talks about this on page 18 of his book: Sound Reproduction, Third Edition, The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms. Short version: it's a myth.
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post #32 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 08:48 AM
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The one common factor you will find in all these discussions, e.g. also about using measurements to evaluate audio, is that whenever someone tries to bring up science, the response is always 'trust your ears'.

Conveniently forgetting that human auditory memory is just about the least reliable and easily fooled thing there is. But the psychological effect is real, just like a placebo. So you have 2 choices - you can keep believing all the audiophile hoopla and keep spending $$$$, or you can trust science, save your money and get a better product.
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post #33 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
The one common factor you will find in all these discussions, e.g. also about using measurements to evaluate audio, is that whenever someone tries to bring up science, the response is always 'trust your ears'.

Conveniently forgetting that human auditory memory is just about the least reliable and easily fooled thing there is. But the psychological effect is real, just like a placebo. So you have 2 choices - you can keep believing all the audiophile hoopla and keep spending $$$$, or you can trust science, save your money and get a better product.
"trust your ears " has merit though...only you can tell for sure what you like .. much like taste .. what you hear, the food you like .. it's very personal..
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post #34 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Madmax67 View Post
I think it's a combination of both. Anything that has a mechanical function encounters some sort of break in. Saying that that's a "myth" is just stupid. Brake pads on new cars often squeak when driven straight off of the transport truck then get broken in on the lot during test drives. Combustion engines break in, fuel mileage gets better after around the 4th tank of gas or so. Driver topology in the speaker industry is as varied as any automobile so I think break in exists and to say that all break in occurs at the exact same time would take testing every driver type there is. Doubt they did that. Whether it's audible or not is another thing. I do believe in breaking your ears in to new speakers as well. Bottom line is a speaker should sound good to your ear right out of the box and whether it's your ear telling you it sounds better over time or not the first impression needs to be a good one.
i think "ear break in" can account for most of what you describe.. if measurements we go by in guiding us through the hobby can't detect changes , my theory is that the human body , proven time after time to be highly adaptable, fixes our speakers for us ...we adapt to situations of starvation, plague, disease, and untold other handicaps.. your ears are most likely not an exception...

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post #35 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 09:43 AM
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Two aspects of break-in should arouse suspicion:

1) Change always happens towards your preference. I mean, if you buy something and it is going to change, there is just as much chance that it will change away from your preference as towards your preference. Yet break-in is always reported as changing towards your preference. How does it know?

2) It stops changing when you are pleased with the sound. If something (speaker, amp, etc) gets warmer and less brittle/edgy over time, it should continue in that direction until high frequencies are barely audible. Yet break-in is always reported to stop exactly when it sounds best to you. How does it know?

There is an alternate explanation break-in that claims our human hearing is simply getting accustomed to the new sound (it is our ears that are breaking in, not the gear). But that explanation is so outrageous and unrealistic that audiophiles dismiss it immediately. The explanation they are more comfortable with is that an electro-mechanical or electronic device physically changes towards your preference and stops changing when you are happy with the sound. Again, how does it know?

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post #36 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by aats View Post
I'd take Klippel over audioholics
While I am sympathetic to this sentiment, there is literally nothing in the paper you linked that demonstrates that these changes are audible.

So what does that mean?

Clearly, there are small mechanical changes in suspensions as a function of use. As the Klippel paper lays out, these changes are characterized as an early phase of rapid change (e.g., something along the lines of break-in) and longer-term gradual changes (essentially, fatigue). But frankly, even based on the Klippel model, these changes even during the early period, are not particularly large and are quite rapid. For most speakers this probably isn't audible at all, and even if it is, the potentially audible change should happen on the order of single-digit hours (though it does matter how much power is put through the speakers). Considering that most speakers are tested before they're shipped, the odds that speakers will audibly change after they're unboxed by the consumer seem quite low.

Thus, in general most people won't ever hear anything that resembles break-in. So, to a first order of approximation, it's essentially a myth. But if you're worried about it, play the speakers loud for a couple hours right after you get them, and you'll be all set.

The idea that, after that, speakers meaningfully change in the typical break-in period that most people usually talk about (e.g., a week, whatever) is just plain snake oil. As @PrestigeAudio said, it's an invention by the unscrupulous to try to get people to not return their purchases.

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post #37 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by SunByrne View Post
While I am sympathetic to this sentiment, there is literally nothing in the paper you linked that demonstrates that these changes are audible.

So what does that mean?

Clearly, there are small mechanical changes in suspensions as a function of use. As the Klippel paper lays out, these changes are characterized as an early phase of rapid change (e.g., something along the lines of break-in) and longer-term gradual changes (essentially, fatigue). But frankly, even based on the Klippel model, these changes even during the early period, are not particularly large and are quite rapid. For most speakers this probably isn't audible at all, and even if it is, the potentially audible change should happen on the order of single-digit hours (though it does matter how much power is put through the speakers). Considering that most speakers are tested before they're shipped, the odds that speakers will audibly change after they're unboxed by the consumer seem quite low.

Thus, in general most people won't ever hear anything that resembles break-in. So, to a first order of approximation, it's essentially a myth. But if you're worried about it, play the speakers loud for a couple hours right after you get them, and you'll be all set.

The idea that, after that, speakers meaningfully change in the typical break-in period that most people usually talk about (e.g., a week, whatever) is just plain snake oil. As @PrestigeAudio said, it's an invention by the unscrupulous to try to get people to not return their purchases.
That is why I said in the first post here that only manufacturers know how this will affect performance and if they are not willing to share you will never know.
So as your belief tells you to do, that's really it.
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post #38 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Lp85253 View Post
"trust your ears " has merit though...only you can tell for sure what you like .. much like taste .. what you hear, the food you like .. it's very personal..
Actually you can't - that's the whole point. You can tell if you like what you're hearing. You cannot tell if its better/worse than the last speaker you heard, even if that was 10min/1hr/1day ago, since our auditory memory is totally unreliable. And thats assuming everything is level matched, since its well known that louder=better.

That's why the only reliable way to compare is a DBT - which reveals surprising answers, and is why its hated and shunned by those who don't believe in data.
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post #39 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by aats View Post
That is why I said in the first post here that only manufacturers know how this will affect performance and if they are not willing to share you will never know.
So as your belief tells you to do, that's really it.
Manufacturers can't control the laws of physics. They know full well there's no such thing as break in. Its in their best interests to claim that it exists.

Its no surprise that any oem who claims break in exists will never supply you with any measurements, FR graphs etc of their products.
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post #40 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:27 AM
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Just for the record, I did do a blind test to see whether any break-in that might occur was audible. I won't bore you with the details (which I've described in other threads), but the bottom line was that all but one listener couldn't hear any difference between the virgin speaker and the one that had been broken in for 50 hours. One of the panelists could hear a difference in the woofer response, but not in the response above about 150 Hz. It should be mentioned that he was a Grammy-award-winning recording engineer. It was a small study and certainly not conclusive, but the results jibed with my experience and measurements. There's no reason to believe that a woofer won't undergo some drop in its Fs due to the long-excursion flexing of the surround and suspension. My study couldn't shed any light on how long that might take, since the speaker was run for 50 hours continuously. But the results did support my view that speakers just don't undergo dramatic changes in tonal character even after extended use.
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post #41 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
Actually you can't - that's the whole point. You can tell if you like what you're hearing. You cannot tell if its better/worse than the last speaker you heard, even if that was 10min/1hr/1day ago, since our auditory memory is totally unreliable. And thats assuming everything is level matched, since its well known that louder=better.

That's why the only reliable way to compare is a DBT - which reveals surprising answers, and is why its hated and shunned by those who don't believe in data.
we are saying the same thing from 2 different perspectives..i think that "like" is a big factor .. you discount it's importance.. but we both trust the science...
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post #42 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Defcon View Post
Manufacturers can't control the laws of physics. They know full well there's no such thing as break in. Its in their best interests to claim that it exists.

Its no surprise that any oem who claims break in exists will never supply you with any measurements, FR graphs etc of their products.
My speakers had "does not require break in" in their manual.
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post #43 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 11:10 AM
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Speakers clearly do break in over time, but the thing to remember is ... it doesn't matter.

The problem comes in when people come up with crazy schemes to break them in like burying them in mattresses, or locking them in the closet.

You bought the speakers, connect them and enjoy them, it a reasonably amount of time they will reach their final sound.

You shouldn't have to worry about spinning out the warranty, or the 30 day return policy. My speaker took an exceptionally long time to break in, but I was able to do it in 3 weeks. But my speaker took 100 hours, others more commonly take 20 hours to 30 hours. It should not take that long to rack up that many hours on the speaker. 2 Hours per day, which is not much, and in 10 days they are done.

Some speakers actually don't take any time to break in, right out of the box they are at their final sound.

If fact, from one speaker maker, he said that his speaker required no break in, and they probably didn't because when he designed new speakers, he said they did require some time.

All that said, I don't see this as anything to get stressed about. Buy them ...use them ...enjoy them ...everything else will take care of itself.

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post #44 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Menarini View Post
Break in on new speakers, is it true? Do the drivers actually start performing better after some time, or they remain the same and it's your ears that get accustomed to the tonal characteristics of the speaker making them sound to better to you?
Sounds like you bought some speakers and don't like them? Return them and get something you do like. Simple as that.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #45 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 11:24 AM
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Speakers are not shoes or Levis. When it comes to audio, your bending - not the spoon.
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post #46 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 12:48 PM
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About the only thing that could potentially change their characteristics significantly with use - is the rubber surrounds for the woofers. Everything else is electrical, and shouldn’t noticeably change over time.

So yes - like shoes, I would expect the surrounds, and various coatings on them to loosen up after the first few hours of use. With increased flexibility will come better transients and extension - so the sound should get better - not worse. However I expect this should mostly occur in the first few hours of use, or less.

I suspect most people who believe in break in - hear this change in the first couple of hours, and then buy into the dealer sales pitch of 300 hour break in periods, that dealers use to avoid returns.

It always cracks me up when people talk about amps and worse - cables, breaking in!


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post #47 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 12:53 PM
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Break-in vs. acclimatization. Does it really matter which? Either way, the point is to reserve judgment until your listening impressions have stabilized.

And it hasn't always been a change for good in my experience. I used to own Wilson Benesch speakers, which stood out favorably in auditions. When I got them home, I loved them at first listen, but over time I became less and less of a fan. I ended up selling them after only ~1 year.

My Dynaudio C2s were the exact opposite. When I first got them home, they sounded constipated in the bass unless you played them loud, in which case they sounded uncomfortably forward. I thought "what the hell did I just do", and in desperation I purchased a used pair of Focus Audio FS788s on Agon. I had owned Focus Audio FS688s before and loved the sound, so I hoped the 788s would save me from my Dynaudio mistake. The 788s were comfortable at first, like putting on a favorite old pair of shoes, but the comparison highlighted some of the Dynaudio's strengths. After a few weeks of changing back and forth every few days, I came to like the Dynaudios more and more and the Focus Audio speakers went into the closet. Now, 10 or 11 years later, I still have my C2s and have no desire to upgrade them.
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post #48 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 03:05 PM
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For people suggesting we should trust our ears, this video of the McGurk Effect can be enlightening.


Even knowing what will happen, I fail this test every time. The mind is a powerful thing. At least for me, science is proving to be a more reliable path.
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post #49 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Red MC View Post
Break-in vs. acclimatization. Does it really matter which? Either way, the point is to reserve judgment until your listening impressions have stabilized.

And it hasn't always been a change for good in my experience. I used to own Wilson Benesch speakers, which stood out favorably in auditions. When I got them home, I loved them at first listen, but over time I became less and less of a fan. I ended up selling them after only ~1 year.

My Dynaudio C2s were the exact opposite. When I first got them home, they sounded constipated in the bass unless you played them loud, in which case they sounded uncomfortably forward. I thought "what the hell did I just do", and in desperation I purchased a used pair of Focus Audio FS788s on Agon. I had owned Focus Audio FS688s before and loved the sound, so I hoped the 788s would save me from my Dynaudio mistake. The 788s were comfortable at first, like putting on a favorite old pair of shoes, but the comparison highlighted some of the Dynaudio's strengths. After a few weeks of changing back and forth every few days, I came to like the Dynaudios more and more and the Focus Audio speakers went into the closet. Now, 10 or 11 years later, I still have my C2s and have no desire to upgrade them.
that's what i'm talking about .. the more i listen to my wharfedale 10.1s the better i like them.. 2 years later...

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post #50 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 03:49 PM
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I read a few articles over the years suggesting it might be a bad idea to play new speakers brought into the home from freezing conditions outside without letting them equilibrate to interior temperature (and humidity). In urban|coastal California where I live, that probably happens by the time I am ready to install the speakers...

My experience has been that by the time I'm ready to do some serious listening using new speakers--say an hour or two after first power up--they are mechanically and electrically "broken in" . . . and that any subsequent audible changes over the next few weeks are indicative of manufacturing problems...


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post #51 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 04:03 PM
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I observed a measurable (2-3 db) output increase with a subwoofer (dual opposed 15" drivers) after buying new and using for a couple of weeks. Sub, mic placement, audyssey settings, source material and volume were all the same, the only difference was time. I didn't do anything to "break it in", just used it.


It's the only instance of this type of thing I've ever personally observed my 40+ years in the hobby. Personally I would never bother to do anything special for the purpose of break in, though if I bought all new gear, set it up and ran room correction immediately, I might recheck measurements after using for awhile.
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post #52 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 04:20 PM
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The Suspension in a Speaker is like the Leather in a new pair of shoes....it takes a bit of flexing to "break it in".....but just a few hours (or days) of listening should do the job [although the improvements are very minor]....as is discussed by the fol. Speaker Manufacturers...and others....so "don't sweat the small stuff" and hold off on "buyer's remorse" until after about a week of listening...which ALSO allows your ears to become adjusted to the "New Sound" of those speakers....and yes, ALL Speakers have their own Tonal, Transient and Dispersal "Sound":
https://blog.fluance.com/what-is-a-s...reak-in-period
https://www.kefdirect.com/blog/some-...r-new-speakers
https://www.paradigm.com/downloads/P...ISH-online.pdf [See pg4]
https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/e...w-run-speakers
https://www.eminence.com/speaker-break-in
https://www.klipsch.com/blog/how-and...r-new-speakers
https://celestion.com/speakerworld/g...guitar_speaker
https://thestateofsound.net/2014/02/...r-new-speakers

Of course, SOME Speaker Mfrs may perform much LONGER Factory Acceptance Tests [i.e. many minutes vs seconds]....so they may be well on their way to being "broke-in" by the time you unpack them.....so YMMV....

FYI: Here is the Audioholics Article describing the Physics....unfortunately they tried to "Prove" something using only two smallish [10-in, 4-in] test speakers....[Which MIGHT have been well used "demos" from mfrs??? Audioholics didn't SAY whether they bought off-the-shelf]....so take it with a huge grain of salt:
https://www.audioholics.com/loudspea...act-or-fiction
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post #53 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill-99 View Post
Even knowing what will happen, I fail this test every time.
Likewise. Never figured that eyes would override ears when it came to hearing.

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post #54 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill-99 View Post
For people suggesting we should trust our ears, this video of the McGurk Effect can be enlightening.



Even knowing what will happen, I fail this test every time. The mind is a powerful thing. At least for me, science is proving to be a more reliable path.
Yet Harman still uses trained listeners actual ears to confirm their testing methodology. Just because your ears can be fooled doesn't mean that they're always fooled. Science also showed that eggs, cheese, dairy, MSG and salt were bad for us up until they weren't. These were studies correlating direct links to heart disease and high blood pressure. All debunked by newer science. Not saying driver break in is audible so don't break out the pitchforks just that there's no microphone that correctly mimics the human ear and how it perceives sound.

I had someone here once link me to a well known debunker who tested isolation pads for audio trying to show me how I wasted my money on 2 Auralex Subdude HT pads for my ported subwoofers. Turns out they worked the way they were designed and the blind test was no more knocks on my door from the person one floor below me. Never told them I was buying anything to fix the issue just that I would turn the sub's down. I didn't. Just because you test something in a controlled environment doesn't mean that product operates the same in all environments. This is actually recognized in the scientific community which is why there are trial studies, beta testers etc..
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post #55 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post
The Suspension in a Speaker is like the Leather in a new pair of shoes....it takes a bit of flexing to "break it in".....but just a few hours (or days) of listening should do the job [although the improvements are very minor]....as is discussed by the fol. Speaker Manufacturers...and others....so "don't sweat the small stuff" and hold off on "buyer's remorse" until after about a week of listening...which ALSO allows your ears to become adjusted to the "New Sound" of those speakers....and yes, ALL Speakers have their own Tonal, Transient and Dispersal "Sound":
https://blog.fluance.com/what-is-a-s...reak-in-period
https://www.kefdirect.com/blog/some-...r-new-speakers
https://www.paradigm.com/downloads/P...ISH-online.pdf [See pg4]
https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/usa/e...w-run-speakers
https://www.eminence.com/speaker-break-in
https://www.klipsch.com/blog/how-and...r-new-speakers
https://celestion.com/speakerworld/g...guitar_speaker
https://thestateofsound.net/2014/02/...r-new-speakers

Of course, SOME Speaker Mfrs may perform much LONGER Factory Acceptance Tests [i.e. many minutes vs seconds]....so they may be well on their way to being "broke-in" by the time you unpack them.....so YMMV....

FYI: Here is the Audioholics Article describing the Physics....unfortunately they tried to "Prove" something using only two smallish [10-in, 4-in] test speakers....[Which MIGHT have been well used "demos" from mfrs??? Audioholics didn't SAY whether they bought off-the-shelf]....so take it with a huge grain of salt:
https://www.audioholics.com/loudspea...act-or-fiction

+1
Breaking in require very little time, for the suspension system to relax.
That said it does very little for the overall sound. Most of the time it our brain and hears, getting use to a new speaker sound signature.


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post #56 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:17 PM
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Here's what my current favorite speakers say on the matter in the owner's manual:

Quote:
Break-in time
The transducers of your Dynaudio Professional BM5 mkIII will achieve better sound quality after breaking in, especially after the first hours of use you may notice a significant advance in sound quality, and further subtle improvements in subsequent hours of use.
So "first hours" seems about right in my experience. I like to play 3 or 4 bass heavy albums before I assume they are "broken-in."

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post #57 of 96 Old 05-29-2019, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by aats View Post
How strongly these changes affect performance - only manufacturer can answer...
I've posted before that I ran a 256 hour (!!) full power break in test for Ford. Too close to bedtime to type all the details, but despite the speakers being slammed to the limit, while there WAS a measurable continuous decreasement in resonance frequency, the effect on calculated and measured frequency response was very small.
--> "break in" is all in your head, ha ha
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post #58 of 96 Old 05-30-2019, 03:38 AM
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Originally Posted by thebrieze01 View Post
About the only thing that could potentially change their characteristics significantly with use - is the rubber surrounds for the woofers. Everything else is electrical, and shouldn’t noticeably change over time.
It's not so much the surround that breaks in, it's the resin-impregnated in the fabric of the spider.

The higher the excursion experienced by the driver, the faster break in occurs.
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post #59 of 96 Old 05-30-2019, 03:48 AM
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I've heard that the more you pay for your speakers, the better they sound after breaking in
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post #60 of 96 Old 05-30-2019, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill-99 View Post
For people suggesting we should trust our ears, this video of the McGurk Effect can be enlightening.

Even knowing what will happen, I fail this test every time. The mind is a powerful thing. At least for me, science is proving to be a more reliable path.
I don't think the McGurk effect has much relevance to bias in sighted auditions. The effect demonstrates that we all have some ability to lip read and we use it as an aid in speech recognition. I think it is well known that we utilize a wide variety of audible and non-audible cues to understand each other in conversation. We don't just listen to the articulation of words, we also make use of what sentence/context they are used, vocal inflections, tone of voice, accent, lip movements, body language, conversational context, feelings about the person speaking, and so on. All of this makes our speech recognition ability a lot more robust than it would be if we only listened to pronunciation.

The McGurk video is a "trick" because it presents our brain with correlated but conflicting data from two senses. The brain has to choose between an auditory pattern match and a visual pattern match. With these particular syllables, most people's brains pick the visual pattern match. This only works for certain syllables, and only when presented without context to aid interpretation. When you add context, such as when watching a film that has been over-dubbed to replace dirty words (or in a foreign language), the brain follows the auditory cues and rejects the conflicting lip movements.

I don't think this is relevant to music listening, because when we're listening to our systems, our ears are hearing the music but our eyes are seeing a mostly static image of whatever is in the room. The two senses are not receiving correlated information.
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