Burn in Headphones: How to Break in High Quality Headphones

Burn in Headphones to Break them In

If you use high quality headphones you definitely need to know about the burn in process. High quality headphones require a break in time called "burn in." Many times expensive headphones will sound mediocre right out of the package until they have been burned in. burn in can take several, if not over a hundred hours until your headphone speakers have settled into the way they will sound for the rest of their lives.

During that burn in time you may notice some changes in the way your headphones sound, usually for the better. This is the how to instructions to burn in new headphones to their best sounding potential, getting the most wide frequency response you can possibly get.

Great Pair of Cans

Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones sound great!
Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones sound great!

Directions for Burning in Headphones

All you need is your computer, headphones, the program, and a few days of patience.

  1. You will need a few different types of audio files with various frequencies and sounds. You can use pre-recorded .wav files or the Burninwave Generator software to "burn-in" your new headphones. Most headphones require over 100 hours, so you should download the software available on the page if possible.
  2. Make a mix of burn in sounds. Make a playlist of burn in tracks. Use your computer to make your playlist whether it's Windows Media Player, iTunes, Winamp, etc. Make sure you do a variety. The goal is to loosen the drivers in the headphones to the point where they respond optimally to music.
  3. Listen periodically to monitor the progress, but really you don't have to. Whether your head is in between the cans doesn't matter. The higher the quality of headphones the longer it may take. Klipsch Custom 2 in ear headphones made a dramatic change somewhere between 80 and 100 hours, and I noticed the pronounced difference. Out of the package they had no bottom end. They got pronounced mids sooner than lows, but now they have clearly defined balanced lows.
  4. Play low frequencies progressively. In other words, you may not be able to hear anything under 40 Hz at first. Burn them at 40 Hz for a while before going to 30 Hz. Rotate out to low frequency sweeps also. You may need to turn volume up to hear 30 Hz and lower. Those frequencies sound more like vibrations (think of a diesel semi truck). Eventually you get low enough that the frequency sounds like a slow helicopter blade. Most music does not have this frequency in it. If the headphones can produce those low frequencies, then they will probably have better balance and a flatter response. Stop the burn in whenever you want. There are no rules. All you are doing is speeding up a process that would happen anyway with normal use. Once burned in your headphones should be close to the way they will sound the rest of their life.

Tips for Headphone Burn In

  • Schedule some break time of silence in your burn in playlist. This will give your headphones some rest after being driven for long periods of time.
  • You may want to push your headphones by playing complicated music and frequency sweeps at the same time. Then your headphones will be challenged to handle the complicated sounds. Use music playing software simultaneously with your the burninwave generator.
  • Some say that you should use music that you would normally listen to, so that the headphones will be tailored to that particular style. Others prefer pink noise, frequency sweeps, low frequencies, or some combination.
  • Don't turn the volume up much louder than you would listen. You are going for burn-in time not volume, and you might damage your headphones if you play sounds too loudly.
  • There may be an awkward period where they don't sound great. They will probably sound better than out of the box at this point, but a little worse than before and not near as good as they will be when fully burned in.

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Comments 18 comments

Bobri Dobri profile image

Bobri Dobri 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Amazing! Have never thought about it! Thanks!


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Honestly Blake I read this just for the fantasy of owning some "high quality headphones" currently I use some crappy quarter sized outer ear buds that fall off when I run and have a poor range of sound. Burn in man!

Ben


Justin 4 years ago

Get some JBuds from JLab. Get sport hooks for them.


Scott 4 years ago

It's a MYTH! Any perceived improvement in sound is very subtle, mostly psychological and will happen with normal use. Don't waste your time with this nonsense.


Scott's Mom 4 years ago

It's not a MYTH.

:D


Yosh 4 years ago

@Scott It's not myth.

I had my HD 201 burned for like, 200 hours.

The sibilance is gone(the painful "tsh" sound)

and the low-mid bass'r much better :D


Mattheu 4 years ago

I have a pair of AKGs and deffinitely sound much better with time. Deffinitely give your headphones a chance to burn in


SANTOS FC 4 years ago

It's simple. Buy a pair of the same headphone (same manufacturer, same model, same spec). Use one of them for one month, let it playing one burn-in track and then, after that period, compare booth.


Bob 4 years ago

Somebody did that, and there was a difference in the sound.


Think About It! 4 years ago

If you believe this article, then I have another fact for you.There's a very nice old man that is capable of flying around the earth (low orbit of course) in a single night on a sleigh with magical reindeers and hands out toys to everybody. Mathematically, it's impossible no matter how you calculate it. The same applies to this article. No matter how you measure the initial sound frequency and the final sound frequency after any specified burn in period, the changes is extremely minute that 99% of human population does not have the ear sensitive enough to detect the improvement in the sound. Unless you are not from earth (i.e. superman), then yes - you'lll absolutely notice the improvement in the sound. So people, wake the hell up and stop spending your hard earn money on ridiculous garbage. Especially teenagers that cannot afford to move out of their parent home, but are asking their mommy and daddy for these high price headphones for their iPhone or iPod.


Bob Dole 4 years ago

It doesn't cost anything to burn in....

There have been measurable differences in frequency change before and after.


Drone 4 years ago

Found an iOS app called "Burner LR".... Very straight forward (and free)...


Blake Flannery profile image

Blake Flannery 4 years ago from United States Author

Drone,

Thanks for the info. I have also found Android apps that work too. One called Burn-In looks good, but I'll have to try it with my new Klipsch S4's and let you know how it works out.


Tomas 3 years ago

source? This gets brought up all the time but not anyone, anywhere has ever posted something to back this up other than their "experience". It's very easy to perceive the sound differently once you get to know by heart the response of you headphones.


electronician profile image

electronician 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

Very interesting, I never knew headphones changed their sound over time like this.


Zainab Tarawali profile image

Zainab Tarawali 2 years ago from Nation's Capital

Wow, I never realized that I wasn't getting the best out of my headphones. I added this article to stumbleupon and voted up! Thanks for the info.


Pete O. 22 months ago

It's not that burning in is a myth. The headphones need to be broken in before they deliver their best sound. All speakers have this "settling in" period.

However, the myth here is that you have to do any sort of special regimen or ritual such as what is described here. Just listen to your headphones normally. As you listen, they are breaking in, and you will start to hear improved audio quality over time. I've spoken with audio engineers and other audio specialists about this, and experienced it myself with my last set of Sennheisers.

The need for special break in playlists and the like is quite debatable.


Blake Flannery profile image

Blake Flannery 22 months ago from United States Author

Thanks Pete. There's also the idea that headphones sometimes improve because of other mechanical break in. For example, the ear pad may start to fit your ear better over time as it ages.

Also, even then perceived improvements related to break in may be more related to the listener getting used to the headphone. Our brain gets to decode sounds we hear, and it may start paying less attention to various frequencies the longer you use them. If you wear sunglasses with an orange tint long enough, you'll start to not even notice the tint until you take them off. Then everything will look blue. Much of the attraction we have to certain sounds is a matter of taste.

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