How to Burn-In Headphones Properly

Before we ask “how to burn in headphones properly” we must ask what it means to burn-in headphones. The answer to this question will help you decide a method that is right for you. What most professionals call burn-in would be better explained as headphone break-in. You know how we have to break into a brand new pair of shoes?

Audiophiles believe that a new pair of headphones requires similar treatment. Some headphones require only a couple of hours while others take over 100 hours.  The trick is to know how long the burn-in period for your headphones should be. But even if you have no clue, fear not. By the end of this guide, you will be a burn-in expert in your rite.

Why Burn-In Headphones?

  • #1 - Check for defects early on

If your headphones have faulty wiring, extremely loud music will damage them. It is because they would be receiving higher power levels than their power ratings. Burning-in is a great way to test their limits before the warranty expires.

  • #2 - Adjust the sound to your preferences

Everybody has their way of enjoying sounds. Because of this, the ideal level of burn-in can vary from person to person. It helps to make those adjustments keeping your habits in mind.

  • #3 - Increase Lifespan

If you have a large collection of headphones, the chances are that you don’t use all of them. When electronic devices are not in use they can corrode and rust. So, when you eventually use them, you will find that the quality of sound has suffered. Burn-in is a way to ensure that your headphones stay in the best possible condition for as long as possible.

  • #4 - Optimize quality

The main reason experts recommend burn-in is to maximize the quality of sound. The reason behind this is simple. Individual components need exercise the same way we stretch muscles before working out. It gives the headphones time to ease into their optimal condition.

Things to Consider When Burning-In Headphones

Three major factors will help you come up with the best way to burn-in your headphones.

#1- How long should the burn-in last?

The standard time you will find is usually 40 hours. Some enthusiasts will cross 100 hours, which is over four days.

The best way to go about it is to leave it on for a few hours every night. Remember to check before going to sleep if the volume is appropriate.

#2- How loud should the sound be?

It is not recommended to play extremely loud music the very first time you plug your headphones in.  It could damage the diaphragm; a membrane that converts electric current into the sound we can hear.

Thus, it is a good idea to play them on medium volume for the first few hours. With time you can increase it to test their maximum capacity.

#3- What type of sound is best?

It is a controversial issue. Some say it doesn’t matter what music or sound you choose. It could be music from your favorite genre. It would ensure that the most important quality of sound is exercised (such as the bass or the treble)

Other people would recommend using pink noise or brown noise rather than white noise. This is because the headphones need a reasonable amount of variation to burn in properly.

There is one thing most people agree on. Instrumentals with sweeping notes should be as long as possible. It will ensure a greater range for the burn-in.

How to Burn-in Headphones 

  • # Step 1 - Find a suitable recording for burn-in. Some parts of it should be pink noise and brown noise. Some should be sweeping notes of different frequencies. It is also a good idea if there are blank parts between the sounds to give your headphones a break. This audio clip from JLabAudio is a great example of a burn-in
  • # Step 2 - Decide how you plan to carry out the process. Whether you use a computer or mobile device, remember to download the audio clip or the app for the task. If you plan on using an mp3 player, download a variety of tracks. Then upload the playlist to the mp3 player you will be plugging your headphones into.
  • # Step 3 - Now it is time to play the sound on your headphones. Make sure you are not wearing the headphones when the burn in sound is playing. This sound may be injurious to your hearing.
  • # Step 4 Leave it on for at least 6 hours daily. You can do this overnight or whenever the headphones are not in use. Most people burn-in headphones while they are sleeping. You can decide which time of day is most convenient for you.
  • # Step 5 - Make sure your device is fully charged. Prolonged activity can quickly drain the battery. If the process stops midway, the burn-in will not be as effective as it should be.
  • # Step 6 - After the first 24 hours, play your favorite music to check if the quality of sound is up to mark. If it is not, repeat the process a few more times. If you use your headphones before the burn-in is complete, the sound quality may be a little awkward. Do not worry and continue the process. The sound quality will improve once the process is complete.

Tips for Headphone Burn-In

  1. Do not wear headphones while the burn-in playlist is playing. The burn-in process requires the use of different types of sounds. Some of these sounds involve rapid shifts from one frequency to the next. They can also involve extremely high pitched sounds. Exposing your ears to such sounds can be potentially dangerous. Remember that the burn-in playlist is for the headphones, not the listener.
  2. The results of the burn-in process are most noticeable while wearing on-ear headphones. In-ear headphones might be too small. It is because ear-in headphone can sometimes be too close to the eardrum. It makes it difficult to catch some small details that would be easy to hear in ear-out headphones.
  3. The greater the variety of sound the more effective the burn-in process will be. Therefore use a variety of audio clips such as a 20 Hz to 2000 Hz sweep.
  4. The volume of sound during the burn-in is related to the volume you prefer your music to be at. It is best to burn in headphones at the highest volume that you usually listen to music on. It helps optimize the quality.
  5. Do not play burn in sounds for 40 hours straight on the first go. It has to be a slow process. It is best to start with 4 to 5 hours daily at a low volume. Gradually increase it with time.
  6. If you do not dedicate time to the burn-in process, it’s alright. The break-in process happens, even if you use the headphones as soon as they are out of the box. However, it is much slower. You would have to wait for a long time for the ideal quality to present itself.

FAQ

How long should I burn-in headphones?

Most experts recommend at least 40 hours while others have crossed 100 hours. There have also been rare cases of people burning in for maximum 24 hours. It is more important to remember is that burning in for short periods is better than burning in one go.

How long should I burn in headphones with pink noise?

Pink noise on its own is not effective for a burn-in. It is because it does not have enough sound variation on its own. If you decide to use pink noise only, it will probably take much longer to burn in the headphones.

Is Headphone burn-in real?

There are a lot of conflicting opinions as to whether burn-in is real or not. The truth is that it is a subject that scientists have not done a lot of research on. A lot of people argue that even if burn-in is real, the changes it causes are very small. People would only notice it if they were specifically looking out for it. Otherwise, no one would pay attention to it.

There is no way to give a reliable answer because audio memory is something that is rather temporary. How often can you remember the exact volume at which you heard something or the quality of that sound?What matters is your ability to enjoy the sound. If you feel that burn in is something that makes a difference for you, go for it.

Can burn in damage headphones?

Burning in can potentially damage the headphones. If you connect the headphones to a very loud source of sound in the first go the diaphragm might get damaged. It would compromise your listening experience.

How loud should the sounds be during the burn-in?

Initially, you should keep the volume at medium. Gradually increase it with time. Only increase it to the maximum volume at which you usually listen to sounds. Once they get used to it, then you can take it up to maximum volume if you like.

How much bass should I have during burn in?

If you listen to music with heavy bass, it is best to look for sound recordings with very low bass. Ambient Low-Frequency Noise by Rumble Works is a good example.

Which kind of noise is best for headphone burn-in?

For this, you need to know what different kinds of noises sound like. White noise sounds as if it has a higher pitch than most noises. In reality, it is made of a greater variety of frequencies. The most relatable example is that of static we get on television sometimes.

Pink noise considers human hearing. It dampens most of the higher volumes. It creates a deeper more balanced listening experience.Brown noise takes this a step further which results in a deeper rumble.

There is no single best noise for burning in headphones. Instead, a variety of sounds makes the process more efficient. It helps to include a few variations from pink noise to brown noise. And also provide a variety of sweeping notes from 10 Hz frequency to 10000 Hz frequency.

Is there an app for headphone burn-in?

If you are not willing to create a burn-in playlist yourself, there are mobile apps that will do it for you. A great example is the Moshi Audio Burn Tool App by Aevoe Inc. It lets you add in the brand of headphones you are using along with the tone generator and the cycle duration. However, it is not possible to use your phone while the app is running, so it is best to use it during the night.

Bose headphones burn in

One source claims that the Bose QC15 noise canceling headphones require over 40 hours of burn-in. The burn in made the sound quality much more vibrant and full to their ear. But remember that it is all about personal preference.

Burn in Sennheiser headphones

Sennheiser has no official stance on headphones needing a burn in period. They claim that “their headphones are designed to sound great from the first moment they are plugged in” Some argue that with time the user gets accustomed to specific headphones. It makes them feel that there is a change in the quality of sound over time. In reality, they get used to the headphones.

Conclusion

Now you must have learned how to burn in headphones properly. Burn-in is a process created to speed up the natural process of breaking in a pair of headphones. It allows you to enjoy optimal sound quality as soon as possible. Whether audio burn in is fact or fiction is still a subject of debate.

Regardless, some steps can help you make the best of your headphones. As long as it is done right, there is no reason it will damage your headphones. On the other hand, you may feel that the amount of effort is not worth the outcome. In that case, there is no harm in using the headphones straight out of the box.


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