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Is burn-in permanent or do we need to "re-burn"?


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I think many of us have heard the effects of burn-in first hand with our components and wires and we've certainly chatted about it, but I don't remember reading/hearing about "re-burn". I'm curious to know if audio components that were once extensively used need to be "re-burned" and whether the same amount of time would be needed? Thinking of the used-gear marketplace in particular .. any thoughts on the matter? Ridiculous question?

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I think many of us have heard the effects of burn-in first hand with our components and wires and we've certainly chatted about it, but I don't remember reading/hearing about "re-burn". I'm curious to know if audio components that were once extensively used need to be "re-burned" and whether the same amount of time would be needed? Thinking of the used-gear marketplace in particular .. any thoughts on the matter? Ridiculous question?

 

Never heard burn in. I think it is us getting used to a new sound rather than any physical changes in the gear. However, some gear might be very badly engineered such that it does change audible performance with time or every time it is used. I think gear like that is best avoided. Well built gear should be high performance and consistently high performance rather than audibly variable.

 

Re- burn in might be needed for the human ear/brain to re-familiarize oneself with a particular presentation on a system after a long period of not listening to the system...

 

A possible explanation is that manufacturers have learned that immediate response to a new presentation is not always positive (old presentation became ground truth for the listener) - therefore manufacturer claims burn in is necessary and this gets the buyer past that initial hurdle of a new presentation (once the presentation becomes familiar)

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Most of my gear has been exceedingly poorly designed. It seems like even the raw components I buy, resistors, caps, wire—all to some extent have a break in period. In my experience, burn in times vary hugely, from a few hours to hundreds of hours. But I think that the bulk of a component's burning in only has to happen once. There can be some really subtle changes that happen after periods of disuse, but they seem to just be a bit longer than normal "warm up" time. (Most clocks, for instance, take several hours to reach thermal stability. I leave everything except larger power amps on all the time.)

 

I know that there are still environs where burn in is explaned as above, along with the "any zip cord will work" crowd, etc. etc. — but most engineers will accept at minimum the length of time it takes for larger electrolytic caps to form. I'm quite content to believe in what I hear, and let others believe in what they hear.

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Regarding used gear: Recapping is prudent if components are 10 to 20 years old especially power amps and preamps. I'm not sure if that constitutes "burn in" criteria.

 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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I think many of us have heard the effects of burn-in first hand with our components and wires and we've certainly chatted about it, but I don't remember reading/hearing about "re-burn". I'm curious to know if audio components that were once extensively used need to be "re-burned" and whether the same amount of time would be needed? Thinking of the used-gear marketplace in particular .. any thoughts on the matter? Ridiculous question?

 

There are many reports of manufacturers at shows not getting their best sound 'til the last day. Apparently, they burn in their systems for days at home but unplugging and moving everything "sets the clock back" for whatever reason. I'm not sure whether I've heard this effect for myself. I've sent components in for upgrades but, for any burn-in I might have heard, was it because of the new parts or because it was unplugged and moved? Regardless, I *have* heard the effects of burn-in with new components, especially with speakers but also cables and electronics.

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I'm not sure if burn-in needs to be repeated but I'm pretty sure you only want to do burn-out once:)

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Burn in is permanent, as in you need to permanently be doing burn in. One day when the effect is more widely recognized, old interconnect and speaker wires will command a premium as they will have had the most extended burn in time.

 

It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to send a burn in signal thru your system anytime you aren't listening to it. Probably will need to leave the power amp off, but everything else could be burning in at all times.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I think many of us have heard the effects of burn-in first hand with our components and wires and we've certainly chatted about it, but I don't remember reading/hearing about "re-burn". I'm curious to know if audio components that were once extensively used need to be "re-burned" and whether the same amount of time would be needed? Thinking of the used-gear marketplace in particular .. any thoughts on the matter? Ridiculous question?

 

Burn-in of audio equipment is mostly apocrypha and an urban audiophile myth. Yes, it is true that some electronics sound better after they've "warmed up" for an hour or so, but this is different from the concept of "burn-in". This gives the components in the electronics a chance to stabilize with temperature and thus operate at their optimum. But the notion that wires have to "burn-in" is actually ridiculous and is totally in the listener's imagination. What is there to burn-in? Interconnects carry tiny currents at just a few volts. They don't generate any heat to "burn-in" and if your speaker cables get warm, then they're way too small. Get bigger gauge wire!

 

The only thing that might get better as it's used are transducers: speakers, headphones, perhaps phono cartridges and microphones, and even then, not all of these devices benefit from burning-in (actually, in the case of transducers, running-in might be a more accurate term as it's purely a mechanical change that's taking place, not an electrical one). Capacitors don't need hundreds of hours to "form their dielectrics"; with interconnects and speaker cables, you wouldn't even want dielectrics to form because you don't want the cable to be a capacitor because capacitors have reactance at some frequencies meaning that a cable with too much capacitance could act as a filter and roll-off some frequencies that you want to pass unscathed.

 

To answer your question. If you leave a component turned off for a long time, months, years, etc., the capacitors will need to reform their dielectric. This will occur almost immediately when you re-apply voltage to them by plugging the component in question into the mains supply and switching it on. If the component is old enough, the capacitors might have dried out, in which case they have come to end-of-life and won't reform their dielectric no matter how long you "burn" them in. At that point, all you can do is replace them. But today's caps are good for three, maybe four decades before they fail like that. This was mostly a problem with the old paper capacitors from the 1960's and earlier.

 

Psychoacoustic studies have suggested that what most people attribute to "burn-in" has more to do with the listener's ear/brain interface "burning-in" than it does with the components burning-in. IOW, if you listen to a new component over time, your brain forgets how different the new component might sound from the old one and you get used to the new sound as being normal and attribute this change to the component in question, when it's really you who have acclimatized to the change, and the component sounds exactly as it did the day you took it out of the box. One more point. If your new cables actually do sound different from your old ones, then they're likely not conductors. They are acting as passive filters that are altering the frequency response of the signal they are supposed to be passing (I, myself, am very wary of cables with "boxes" of wood plastic, or metal somewhere in their length -especially if they have "controls" on them. These boxes likely contain capacitors, inductors, and or, resistors. If so, these are possibly more than just cables). If you want to filter your music, get yourself an active equalizer of some type. Then you'll have more control and you can alter the sound to your taste.

George

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Never heard burn in. I think it is us getting used to a new sound rather than any physical changes in the gear.

 

Amen. Several studies that I have come across over the years have indicated that what most people think of as burning-in is merely them getting used to, over time, the change that new component might make to the sound of their system.

George

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I do think that its largely your ears adjusting to a new sound. I know when I go to a mates and listen to a new setup it takes my ears some time to re adjust to the new sounds before I can assess what I hear. That said there are components that do sound better after burn in such as certain capacitors and for sure tubes.

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I think many of us have heard the effects of burn-in first hand with our components and wires and we've certainly chatted about it, but I don't remember reading/hearing about "re-burn". I'm curious to know if audio components that were once extensively used need to be "re-burned" and whether the same amount of time would be needed? Thinking of the used-gear marketplace in particular .. any thoughts on the matter? Ridiculous question?

 

Hi Melvin,

 

Why ridiculous? I say not at all if you've heard burn-in yourself. (Please correct me if I'm wrong but I'm assuming you have or I wouldn't understand why the question would be of interest to you.)

 

In my experience, if a system (or component) is in regular use, once it is burned in, it stays that way. (Of course, they system isn't at its best until it has been up and running for a little while but that is something other than burn-in.) The exception might be cables, where in theory, moving them around may require further burn-in. I have not noticed the latter myself, provided, as I said, the system (or component) is in regular use. That said, I *have* experienced cables that have reportedly been fully burned-in being shipped to me, and with those, I've still found the same burn-in is required as with fresh-out-of-the-box cables. So perhaps there is something to the idea of moving them around. (The argument that this is simply one's "getting used to" a sound is easily dismissed by having two of the same item on hand and using one regularly, then switching to the unused one. Besides, if the system is really capable of "getting out of the way" it isn't difficult to hear cables' changing sonics as they burn in over the course of several days.)

 

If the system has not been used for a while, I find burn-in is required again, simply because one it has been in regular use for a while, it sounds better than when it is first brought back on line. All the usual benefits of burn-in will be heard, best summed up, I think, as "coming into focus" with better pitch definition (and extension) on the bottom, less grain, more "air" and an overall improvement in clarity. My speakers recently went back to the factory for an upgrade and though the word was that they would not need burn-in after the modification, I've found that good as they sounded right away, they still needed some time to reveal all their magic.

 

That's been my experience anyway. How about you?

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Regarding used gear: Recapping is prudent if components are 10 to 20 years old especially power amps and preamps. I'm not sure if that constitutes "burn in" criteria.

 

It is always worthwhile to have a close look at electrolytic capacitors in used equipment for signs of leakage, or especially a domed top.

Unfortunately, many Asian capacitor manufacturers used the pirated, but incomplete, electrolyte formula from a major capacitor manufacturer ,that caused the premature failure of 100s of 1,000s of PC motherboards worldwide.

This is well documented.

Many of these capacitors exhibit problems in as little as 12 months, sometimes even before installation !!!

I have had to replace dozens of electrolytic capacitors in my own gear for this reason. Many manufacturers were involved in this scam. Suntan and Lelon capacitors were just a few of many used in mass produced Asian made gear that caused these problems. A few friends and myself have supplied > 800 JLH PSU Add-on PCBs worldwide, and numerous DIYers have confirmed that the large electrolytic capacitors used take at least 72 hours to fully form, before finally stabilising.

The resulting SQ varies in cycles, and at some times during the process, the JLH PSU Add-on may sound like it has a major problem.

Admittedly , these capacitors are only working with around 600mV across them. The effects may also be heard with the main storage capacitors in amplifier PSUs etc. as they stabilise. Some favoured major brands can take several hundred hours of use to fully stabilise.(Elna "green" etc.)

 

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Why ridiculous? I say not at all if you've heard burn-in yourself. (Please correct me if I'm wrong but I'm assuming you have or I wouldn't understand why the question would be of interest to you.)

 

.. snip ...

 

That's been my experience anyway. How about you?

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

 

Hi Barry .. you assume correctly. I'll give you an example: after several months of non-use I put my Tranquility DAC back into the system and while it didn't take hundreds of hours to settle in, it did take a week or so. Some time later I sent it back for an upgrade and the burn-in process was reset back almost to square one. This seems to be the case for most gear I swap in/out and I was wondering if others experience similar. Got me thinking about used gear and how patient we need to be when auditioning.

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