Is headphone "burn-in" real?
June 5, 2006 7:30 AM Subscribe
Is there any evidence to support the idea that headphones need to be "burned in" to sound better?
posted by Prospero to technology (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A couple of months ago I purchased a pair of audiophile headphones (Audio-Technica ATH-A900s, for what it's worth). They are the first expensive pair of headphones that I've owned, and so I was amazed by how well they sounded right out of the box, compared to the $50 Sony headphones that I was used to.
Strangely enough, though, last night I was listening to the Audio Technicas and thought, "You know, these things sound really good. Even better than usual." Now, one fashionable audiophile explanation for this would be that after a good deal of use the headphones have been "burned in"--that some amount of time of use ranging between twenty and several hundred hours is necessary to allow headphones to reach their full potential. However, that sounds like it may possibly be audiophile voodoo to me, like the idea that coloring the outer edge of a CD with a green magic marker will increase fidelity. It seems equally plausible to me that after many hours of use my ears have "learned" to listen to the headphones, and that I've gotten better withe practice at interpreting the message that the headphone's speakers are communicating (if that makes sense).
So is there any evidence to support either of these hypotheses?