Why does burning in work

twitch

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Jun 17, 2010
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Anyways, I'm done with this argument. I'm stupid for even posting in this thread again. :(

Ok, we won't argue with you ........

Umm, no. You're trolling. Simple as that. I should know better to engage with trolls by now. I think this sums it up best:

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." - George Bernard Shaw

Mr Shaw was a smart fella!

Wow. We certainly see things differently Ron, there is no doubt about that. Kal told bluefox that he's imagining harshness going away, and his responses to my genuine posts have been contrary in a way to bait a reaction. Look at microstrip's post:



Let's review the definition of trolling, shall we? ;) Look, Kal has been trollin' a bit and I called him out on it. What's the big deal? I think we've all trolled a little here and there.

I think you're taking this way, way, way, way, way too seriously. We're just talking on a forum on the internet about random stuff (re, Bitcoin). I'm not sure how it's even possible to get as offended about it as you seem right now.

The suggestion to "have a drink and look in the mirror" is, well, crossing lines. Not that I care or am taking offense, because I don't care that much about what you think, but it's certainly pretentious and condescending.

I agree, I have no problem with Kal and enjoy his posts.

I, however, have decided not to argue about certain topics anymore and have been tempted into breaking my own rule. It's no big deal... not to me, hopefully not to anyone else...

and look at you.......continuing to post away, still feeling stupid ?
 

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
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and look at you.......continuing to post away, still feeling stupid ?

Nope, as I'm not arguing about burn-in.

Thanks for your concern though, very much appreciated! :p
 

NorthStar

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Reading? Wasn't I there?

Reading...on audio forums of the Internet we read, you read, you have been there, you have read all type of comments, you witnessed all type of audio arguments, from the lowest end to the ultra high end. ...From iPods to iClass. ...From Sodom and Gomorrah, from Salome to Caesar, Alexandria to Spartacus, ...a figure of speech for saying a reasonable vast experience in the art of audio communication, of human tragedy and destiny, of words written and interpreted, of what we know to be true and false, of why burn-in does in fact change the sounds from audio electronics...loudspeakers, cable wires, audio components, some more than others.
 

stehno

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Jul 5, 2014
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Is there a clear and logical scientific reason why components work better Whe. 'burned in' and does this mean they deteriorate from optimal state shortly after having been burned in?

High-end audio never ceases to amaze. Your question is quite valid but as usual people seem over the map with their responses. But that's another story.

Is there a clear logical scientific reason why new components and other electrical parts improve after a period of time? Since there are sonic differences and I dare say improvements in quite possibly every burn-in case, I'd venture the answer is a big yes - even if nobody to this day has discovered the reason. Does "science" ever really arrive?

But if burn-in phenomena exists (and it does), does it really matter if "science" cannot provide sound reasoning? A few examples come to mind.

1. There is yet to be designed a measuring instrument to measure sound quality. Since that remains true, we have only our ears to rely on for some of these things. That's one reason why it's important that we spend time developing and training our ears to discern what we hear.

2. I'm reminded of a discussion in another forums a few years back where 2 very well-known designers complained that their professional-grade, professionally-calibrated sensitive measuring instruments routinely failed them when they and their colleagues could easily discern changes with their ears only. Thus implying their measuring instruments ultimately were less trustworthy than their ears.

Not that it matters but my hunch is, since every wire and electrical part is manufactured less than perfect, there exists tiny fractures and imperfections throughout the object and hence all along the current's path. And perhaps when under load for x amount of time, the electrical current either by heat or some other constant minimizes some of these imperfections or perhaps "discovers" the optimal path from point A to point B. Thus potentially lowering the current flow's resistance. Aren't nearly all improvements the result of improved efficiencies and/or lowered resistance?

That's just a guess. But that could also explain why when a cable or other electrical part is taken out of the system, cryo-treated, then re-installed, that cable must go through the exact same burn-in process all over again. Because the state of the material has returned to an unused / new state just like when the object was right out of the box. But hopefully after cryo-treating, the imperfections are more minute than prior to.

As for my own experience, over the past 19 years I've purchased many new cables, components, speakers, and line condtioners. I've also purchased many wall outlets, fuses, plugs, IEC connectors, inlets, etc. With these smaller objects I usually install them all at the same time e.g. all AC plugs and IEC connectors together, all fuses together, all wall outlets together, etc. Minimally I can state the following:

1. There exists 3 types of object maturing or seasoning processes before performing at an optimal. Electrical burn-in, mechanical settling-in (for stationary mechanical parts), and mechanical break-in (for moving mechanical parts) or combinations thereof. All of which when reaching full maturity should always provide noticeably improved performance.

2. Small electrical objects like plugs, outlets, fuses, connectors, inlets, etc, seem to always or most always take roughly the exact same time to reach full maturity or fully burned in status. That's 53 hours of round-the-clock playtime. Like clockwork, give or take 30 min.

3. Larger electrical objects take longer to burn-in. For example, a 1M pair of IC's on average takes 5.5 - 6 full days of round-the-clock playtime. A 6ft pair of speaker cables most always takes about 7 - 8 days. Components usually between 7 to 12 days depending perhaps on complexity and/or transformer size.

4. Unlike mechanical setting-in, the electrical burn-in process seems to have a restart memory. For example, several times while burning in a pair of IC's or speaker cables, I've taken them out half-way through the burn-in process and installed others. Then a few days later re-install those that were still burning in. And the burn-in process seems to pick up pretty much where it left off. I've taken IC's out after 3 full days of burn-in and when reinstalled later they seem to reach full burn-in status roughly 2 days later. Rather than starting over from day 1 again.

5. Unlike mechanical settling-in, once fully burned in an electrical object remains fully burned in for the rest of its life. IOW, it has a long-term lifetime memory and the only time the electrical object needs a little warm up time is when the equipment is powered down, cold, or uninstalled and later re-installed. This warm-up time can take 15 minute to a full day or more but never needs to go the full burn-in process again.

6. Post-burned-in electrical objects taken out to be cryo-treated and then re-installed must go thru nearly the exact same burn-in process as when new. I presume since the cryo'ing prcoess alters the materials so they are returned to a like new / unused state.

7. Electrical burn-in does not require loud playing volumes. To the contrary, for years now I've been burning things in with the volume just 1 or 2 notches over zero and the burn-in times seem to remain essentially the same.

What I find most fascinating is that mechanical settling-in times are miraculously close to their electrical object counterparts' burn-in times. In fact, small mechanical objects settling-in times are essentially identical to small electrical object time frame of 53 hours. This leads me to suspect that maybe, just maybe there is no such thing as a real burn-in after all, but perhaps it's all just variations of mechanical settling-in when an energy travels.

These are some of my observations all of which are from a listening perspective only.
 
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astrostar59

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I would go much simpler. I imagine a Capacitor as a rechargeable battery, that holds and discharges it's electrical capacity after each switch on and off. We already know rechargeable batteries improve from new after some charge and discharge cycles.

All audio products I can see in the market has capacitors, often big ones in the power supply inside the box. So there we are, one big burn in going on. Then we have resistors, wire, PCB traces, Fets or tubes.

On burn in period I have heard the effect of Duelund capacitors taking 2 months, V-Caps Teflons take 4 months+.

As to wether interconnects and power cable burn in, I have no fixed idea on that, but I imagine they might.

I also wonder, if after say a long holiday away and your system is not used for say 3 months, does it need to go through another 'mini' burn in?
 

BlueFox

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I have felt that cable burn in resulted in the cable atoms settling into the best, most efficient, conducting orientation. Your graph seems to support that.
 

Robh3606

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Well if you look at what goes on in High Reliability space and military programs all electrical components are burned in. Wire, cables and harnesses are not. The harnesses get buzzed out.

Rob :)
 

Gregadd

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How do we know that science is not but the study of God's work? We know then then that science will never prove the existence of God if for no other reason that it is not inclined to do so
.Sound reproduction is an illusion designed to stimulate a perception. Ironic that so many are so hostile to that perception. Even humans "warmup " and burn-in." People express hostility to certain phenomena not because they don't believe it. They are hostile to what acceptance means to their dogmatic beliefs. For instance the church had no vested interest the earth being flat or spherical. Accepting that it is spherical means the omniscient God they serve should have told them it was round.
"I think therefore I am." If it exists in can be measured. Of course the mere fact that something has not been measured does not mean it can't be. An open hostility to claimed audio myths is understandable emanating from the objectionist camp. I am not sure it can be resolved. It does have real consequences. Thankfully not to serious.
 
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BlueFox

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I have felt that cable burn in resulted in the cable atoms settling into the best, most efficient, conducting orientation. Your graph seems to support that.

Interesting that the post I was referring to has been removed. I guess if the forum is going to operate in that manner then I will quote all future posts that I respond to.
 

microstrip

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Well if you look at what goes on in High Reliability space and military programs all electrical components are burned in. Wire, cables and harnesses are not. The harnesses get buzzed out.

Rob :)

We have several reasons for burn-in - increase reliability, detect infant mortality and improve performance. Space and military programs mostly think about the first two, audiophiles just look for the third one. The audiophile exception is filament tube burn-in without high voltage - it is said to improve reliability.
 
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Gregadd

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I assume "infant mortality" is a euphemism for "lemons."
 

Blackmorec

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I assume "infant mortality" is a euphemism for "lemons."
Not exactly. Most manufacturers of electronics who care about and monitor their product’s reliability will show you a graph that resembles a bath tub....high initial failure rate followed by years of reliable service, then an increasing failure rate as the unit approaches the end of its useful life.
A lemon would be a product that continues to fail throughout its useful life.

As regards burn-in here’s what I’ve observed over the years:
A typical hi-fi product takes some time before it sounds its best. Once it sounds good, it does not revert to sounding bad, regardless of mood, outside temperature, humidity etc. Once burned in, devices are usually quite stable. However, replace a ‘burned-in’ unit with a new unit and the SQ drops, which indicates that burn-in is less a function of listener acclimatisation and more to do with usage.

What I’ve also noticed is that anything associated with very low power demands, for example a Linear DC power supply for a 5V - 12V digital device generally takes a long time to burn in. Similarly a high current power cable will typically take a lot longer to sound good vs a regular $3 cord.
I’ve also found that cheap consumer networking components have a very steep performance curve, initially sounding awful when brand new but quickly improving and stabilising after a maximum of 3 days.
 
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Robh3606

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We have several reasons for burn-in - increase reliability, detect infant mortality and improve performance. Space and military programs just think about the first two, audiophiles just look for the third one.

You really think so?? I guess you have never been involved in an industry where it is common to have parts selected after review of the burn in data specifically because of their performance. It happens all the time. Parts selection can start all the way down to wafer probing before the individual devices are even diced sorted and packaged, at the very beginning of the process. Then the packed device gets screened which includes all manner of mechanical as well as electrical testing.

So to say that Space and Military programs don't care about the performance or select parts because of their performance is simply nonsense.

Rob :)
 

microstrip

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You really think so?? I guess you have never been involved in an industry where it is common to have parts selected after review of the burn in data specifically because of their performance. It happens all the time. Parts selection can start all the way down to wafer probing before the individual devices are even diced sorted and packaged, at the very beginning of the process. Then the packed device gets screened which includes all manner of mechanical as well as electrical testing.

So to say that Space and Military programs don't care about the performance or select parts because of their performance is simply nonsense.

Rob :)

No Rob, but I was only addressing the components usually used in audio equipment and using performance in the sense we use in audio. It is always possible to find sectors in industry where parts need burn-in during the manufacturing process - any one should know how CPUs are ranked. :) I worked in the radiation detector development and burn-in was part of the manufacturing of devices.

Anyway I should have used mostly rather than just in my sentence - I have now changed it.
 

Gregadd

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Not exactly. Most manufacturers of electronics who care about and monitor their product’s reliability will show you a graph that resembles a bath tub....high initial failure rate followed by years of reliable service, then an increasing failure rate as the unit approaches the end of its useful life.
A lemon would be a product that continues to fail throughout its useful life.

As regards burn-in here’s what I’ve observed over the years:
A typical hi-fi product takes some time before it sounds its best. Once it sounds good, it does not revert to sounding bad, regardless of mood, outside temperature, humidity etc. Once burned in, devices are usually quite stable. However, replace a ‘burned-in’ unit with a new unit and the SQ drops, which indicates that burn-in is less a function of listener acclimatisation and more to do with usage.

What I’ve also noticed is that anything associated with very low power demands, for example a Linear DC power supply for a 5V - 12V digital device generally takes a long time to burn in. Similarly a high current power cable will typically take a lot longer to sound good vs a regular $3 cord.
I’ve also found that cheap consumer networking components have a very steep performance curve, initially sounding awful when brand new but quickly improving and stabilising after a maximum of 3 days.
It still sounds like a misnomer. Although it is a good explanation.
 

Blackmorec

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Just for clarity, there are several reasons manufacturers may care about burn-in.
1. Because it allows them to detect early failures in a situation where removing failures is a more cost effective measure than repair. Often burn-in in these situations is conducted at the component or sub-assembly level during or pre-production. This is typical for cases where certain components have high initial failure rates and initial burn-in can screen out the duds
2. For ‘mission critical’ components, where failures can be disasterous. Burn-in precipitates any early failures, positively impacting the failure rate due to the bath-tub effect
3. Where burn-in affects performance...so in situations where optimum, stable performance is required, products may be pre-burned-in prior to delivery
4. Where special burn-in procedures can be implemented that go well beyond simple usage, for example the application of high voltages....burn-in literally becomes another step in the production process and an integral part of the product’s final performance.

In audio, SQ changes due to burn-in does seem to be a real phenomenon. New speakers, electronics and cables all seem to undergo gradual initial changes. The same changes are not heard when well used items are substituted into a system, indicating that its an item’s newness that is key. Similarly items like footers, platforms and racks, which have no electronic component do no undergo gradual changes....the changes they render are, at least in my experience immediate and stable, ruling out listener acclimatisation in the phenomenon.
 

Gregadd

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Very good argument. I am however reluctant to completrely rule out the human element entirely. Humans are as a group naturally prejudiced and slow to adapt to change. This is even more true when we like something.
 
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DaveC

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Very good argument. I am however reluctant to completrely rule out the human element entirely. Humans are as a group naturally prejudiced and slow to adapt to change. This is even more true when we like something.

Yup, I'd agree with that wrt all aspects of audio.

It doesn't mean burn-in and other phenomenon aren't real but it's certainly true that we also imagine changes in sound based on bias and expectation.
 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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Just for clarity, there are several reasons manufacturers may care about burn-in.
1. Because it allows them to detect early failures in a situation where removing failures is a more cost effective measure than repair. Often burn-in in these situations is conducted at the component or sub-assembly level during or pre-production. This is typical for cases where certain components have high initial failure rates and initial burn-in can screen out the duds
2. For ‘mission critical’ components, where failures can be disasterous. Burn-in precipitates any early failures, positively impacting the failure rate due to the bath-tub effect
3. Where burn-in affects performance...so in situations where optimum, stable performance is required, products may be pre-burned-in prior to delivery
4. Where special burn-in procedures can be implemented that go well beyond simple usage, for example the application of high voltages....burn-in literally becomes another step in the production process and an integral part of the product’s final performance.

In audio, SQ changes due to burn-in does seem to be a real phenomenon. New speakers, electronics and cables all seem to undergo gradual initial changes. The same changes are not heard when well used items are substituted into a system, indicating that its an item’s newness that is key. Similarly items like footers, platforms and racks, which have no electronic component do no undergo gradual changes....the changes they render are, at least in my experience immediate and stable, ruling out listener acclimatisation in the phenomenon.


I've heard some cables processed with high voltages and it makes a really big difference in the final performance of the cable, it tends to reduce the warmth imparted by copper wire and increase resolution of the cable. The manufacturers who use this charge big $, I plan on buying a Tesla coil and offering similar cables for about 1/10th the price. These cables still can't beat my top end cables but are very good imo.
 

Blackmorec

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Feb 1, 2019
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Yes, it would be unwise to completely rule out listener involvement entirely....that would be to ignore a potentially huge confounding variable

Have you noticed that burn-in is not a linear process.....a new component will often sound really good before it all goes to hell. Often it then goes through some discreet steps, with specific areas deteriorating then improving markedly over a couple of days...splashy treble prior to a marked increase in sparkle and transparency; bass emphasis like a room node prior to extra bass extension, weight and linearity? I don’t think human acclimatization would be this ‘lumpy’, so I do believe that burn-in a real phenomenon (and a real PITA!).
 
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