IEM burn-in: Is a messy bass likely to go away?
September 4, 2014 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Hi. If I have new IEMs and the bass sounds like it's just too much -- unblended, overshadowing, even muddying -- is it possible that it will balance out in the same way as other problems go away during/after proper burn-in time?

Brainwavz M3. I have a jewel of a pair from 2012 that now have a connection problem but which while I'm sitting quietly sound fantastic -- almost BETTER since the onset of the periodic bother of one or the other earphone going out (then my jiggling the cable to bring the sound back).

Anyway, I figured I'd get another pair but that is the specimen that had the trouble of the too much and obnoxious bass, as described above. I returned them. Mind you, I could compare and the old pair sounded great, so placebo more unlikely. It's wasn't like I was comparing two different items. Brainwavz said they haven't changed the build/"formula" since 2012 and all should be the same. I recall in fact that the great pair, when I got them, started out w/ not very much bass, but that bass grew as I went along.

So I'm ordering the M3s again on the chance that I got a fluke last time and the coming one will, given time, arrive at the same general sound quality as pair #1. BUT: if it DOES have the same prevalent, muddy, artificial-sounding bass as the one I recently returned, I'll figure something's just different nowadays and I'll accept it (or return once more if terrible and long-lasting).

Still: Am I hoping against hope that such a problem as the bass, once in place, can actually become more subdued, just as a fuller treble can come about given good burning in?
posted by noelpratt2nd to Technology (4 answers total)
Burn-in with IEMs is a myth. Testing shows no appreciable change in sound output. It was a placebo. Audio is the worst for placebos. Unless you can consistently tell the two pair apart in a blind test, you shouldn't trust your ears that they actually sounded different.

Sorry buddy. It sounds the way it sounds.
posted by Jairus at 5:47 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Those who deny burn-in at least claim it is your ears getting used to the device that changes. One way or another things begin sounding differently. Usually, it seems to me, this has to do with people awaiting their beloved bass response. But has anyone ever heard of the bass receding from being too heavy to the point of sounding balanced?
posted by noelpratt2nd at 7:23 PM on September 4, 2014

"Ears getting used to the device" is a psychological response, though, not a physical or physiological change, so I don't know that's there's really any way to predict how any given user will perceive the "change."

I think you should do some searching and/or asking on the forums - lots of users, lots of opinions and experiences with different brands and models. It's entirely possible people there have asked and answered your questions regarding your specific IEM's or with bass reduction due to burn-in as a general phenomenon.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:16 AM on September 5, 2014

It's too confusing over there, and no matter what, it never seems you end up posting on the correct thread. Then people get impatient b/c you must not have read their many rules. But thanks.

Sometimes you can fool yourself unintentionally into a blind test, which I've done before. And it's then you learn to trust your ear more than your doubts. The first reply guy says "it sounds the way it sounds," and he's right -- that specimen I got sounded sucky and probably always will wherever it is. Or at least sounded different from the first and supposed samely made item.

Otherwise, yes, I do know sound/ears are subjective to a high degree.
posted by noelpratt2nd at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2014

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