Many audiophiles believe that fresh, out-of-the-box, earbuds don’t sound as nice as they potentially could because the drivers haven’t been used enough yet. The view is that fresh drivers haven’t been used enough for music to flow optimally through them. This is a rather controversial debate, and there are many audiophiles who don’t believe in burning-in.  Burning-in is the process of letting music flow out of your buds, at a moderate volume, for around 200 hours. The music adjusts the drivers so that when you begin listening, you hear the music at its best quality.

It’s actually pretty funny, because there are great arguments on either side of the fence. The believers state that fresh drivers are too stiff when they are out of the box, and that they need the right amount to adjust to the fluidity of the music. The disbelievers state that the effects are only psychological and that the music sounds the same whether it’s the 1st hour or the 1000th- they believe that the only reason people hear an improvement with burned-in earbuds is that their ears are just becoming more accustomed to the sound.

But, since you are going to be using your earbuds for a very long time, why not just try burning them in? After all, you’re going to be using them anyway, right?

The proper way to burn earbuds is by letting an appropriate level of music to play through them. If you play something too loudly, it could do irreversible damage to the drivers. Instead, you want to play the music at a level which is slightly hard to hear external conversations at.  Many audiophiles state that once the earbuds are burned in, you can play music at absolutely any volume, and there will be no ill effects. The only time anything negative can happen as a result of loud music is at the beginning stages of listening.

Burning-in is especially important for expensive pairs of earbuds. When we first listened to the Shure SE210’s, they sounded like normal earbuds; however, after a few hours, they began to sound stellar. The problem is that they were so fresh and new that the stiffness of the set still had not faded. Now, maybe we’re wrong, and maybe the performance was stellar all along. Who knows? Don’t kill our buzz.

There may be no point in burning your earbuds, though. There is no scientific basis; however many people swear by it. You should try it out yourself and experience the difference.  The arguments on both sides are reasonably valid, and you will eventually have to pick a side once you buy an expensive pair of earbuds.  Maybe they sound better after being burned in because you simply want them to sound better; therefore, you try extra hard to enjoy the experience. Or, maybe they actually do sound better as a result of this musical stretching. And then, it show that there is a correlation between burned earbuds and better sound.

Try it out and see for yourself. This decision really is yours. And, you really have nothing to lose. After all, you will be listening to music through these on a constant basis anyway, right?

Footnotes

“” Burning In” Headphones – Audio & Video Equipment Forums.” Audio & Video Equipment Forums – Powered by VBulletin. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://forums.audioreview.com/showthread.php?t=26991>.

Boomana, By. “Headphone ‘Burn In’ FAQ – Head-Fi.org Community.” Head-Fi.org – Headphone Forums and Reviews for Audiophiles. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/56744/headphone-burn-in-faq>.

“”Burning In” Headphones [Archive] – IAudiophile.net Forums.” IAudiophile.net. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://iaudiophile.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-263.html>.

“How Long Should I Burn-in My Headphones?” Ask Questions, Find Answers – Askville. Web. 12 Sept. 2010. <http://askville.amazon.com/long-burn-in-headphones/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=3650122>.

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only 1 comment until now

  1. I read your article on burning in earbuds. You are not alone on this. Your article reminded me of two products designed by Jim Hagerman of Hagtech technology’s. He believes that cables need to be burned-in anyway. I am leaving a URL to his articles
    http://www.hagtech.com/articles.html
    In Addition, Hagerman had a audio file of the actual frybaby sound on his Website, I just downloaded it and appended it into Audacity, to make a CD. I then looped the CD player and left it on overnight. I could not tell any difference, but it didn’t seem to damage the player.
    Here is the link for the file on Mediafire.
    http://www.mediafire.com/?mrf0oghmopep7ce

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