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"breaking in" monitors

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby ef37a » Thu May 29, 2014 9:43 pm

pilot-wave wrote:I have the feeling that there are many variables at work here, not just with the equipment but also within and between individuals, which muddies what may really be going on.

For myself, I’ve nearly always been conscious of speakers requiring ‘breaking in’ when new, while (no doubt for different material reasons) I’ve also been aware of similar initial period ‘evolving’ sound traits in new amps and CD players... this was strongly apparent with a new NAD 514 CD player when I bough it many years ago... a bit ‘pinched’ ‘stiff’ and ‘dark’ sounding when new, then after several hours/days of running CDs, ‘opening –up’ into a fuller more rounded sound. All other aspects of the audio system, positioning and room conditions were unaltered during this period. On one occasion I remember catching a pair of small Tannoy nearfields audibly shifting from that new ‘stiff, bass-light’ sound into the ‘fuller-rounded-out’ phase, if not within the space of a few minutes, certainly within the hour. Later with PMC TB2S+ monitors they seemed to take an eternity to open up and even then not much, due to them having a much tighter sound than some older TB1s which were also present for comparison.

Here, more on the issue of hearing acuity and hardware differences rather than ‘breaking-in’ which in my experience couldn’t and doesn’t apply, I’ll stick my neck out and say that I’ve also noticed sometimes marked influential differences to the sound between similar thickness/length cables, though cheap mains cooker cable can ‘sound’ different to a much more expensive ‘rip-off’ Hi-Fi speaker cable of similar thickness and length. The word here is ‘different’ rather than ‘better’, though in this instance I preferred the cooker cable. I’ve carried out comparisons like this over and over again in the past, being very careful about overall conditions, and I can say the effects are repeatable and significant. I’ll stick the neck out again and say that cables, more often than not, and maybe presently only God knows for sure, exhibit ‘directional’ characteristics which become noticeable once you know what to listen for after a few back and forth change-overs. I haven’t done this for years now, but I could leave the system between directional change overs and on returning to the room, say the next day, having forgot which way I’d left it, be able to correctly discern - from the sound only - which way ‘round the cable had been left. These are peripheral effects and not the kind of thing that will impact on the essentials of a flat response and mix outcome. Room acoustics, positioning and other factors can swamp this, but for some like myself, this can be a worthwhile tweak for getting things to one’s satisfaction and remove those slight sonic irritations after the main issues have been sorted. These ‘irritations’ for me can have an almost synaesthetic quality which brings a new meaning to the term ‘colouration’! I don’t think I’m that exceptional either as I think there are many others that share these observations but choose to remain quiet about it, particularly in pro sound circles.

To be clear, I’m not a potential peddler of or taken in by the more outlandish ‘snake-oil’ claims! The truth probably resides somewhere roughly midway between the two extremes of belief.

What I’m getting at is that there are probably many other factors beyond just the behaviour of the hardware itself that makes for one person’s ‘truth’ being another’s ‘nonsense’. I would guess, that we all vary not just in listening acuity, but also in ‘how’ we listen and process what we hear in terms of personality traits, what’s deemed relevant, etc, etc. I’m a meticulous type, while somebody else might have a more practical “sod that kind of deluded farting around nonsense” approach and just get on with it with equally good results. I might hear stuff that you can’t or don’t choose to focus on (and vice-versa) while you’ll flatten me with other sensory or intellectual abilities that I may lack... we’re all ‘tuned’, I think, differently in this respect.

Other than maybe straying off the main point with the cable talk, I’m quite prepared to receive some flak for this or to just be politely ignored!

Oh! I shan't ignore you and I apologise in advance SoS...Bollocks!

Now OP, you see where this sort of thing leads?

Dave.
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Dynamic Mike » Fri May 30, 2014 1:46 am

ef37a wrote:Oh! I shan't ignore you and I apologise in advance SoS...Bollocks!

Now OP, you see where this sort of thing leads?

Dave.
That's harsh. I have some cables which are quite clearly uni-directional. Admittedly that's due to the fact they have different connectors at each end, but I can definitely hear an audible difference when I swap them around. :)

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby johnny h » Fri May 30, 2014 2:46 pm

Its strange how excitable people get with this 'breaking in' nonsense. I mean, you buy some headphones / speakers / whatever and you use them. If the sound changes very subtly after a day or two's listening, does it really matter? They are going to last 10, 20 years. Why obsess over the first 20 hours of operation?

Unless you are mixing a mission critical session and for some bizarre reason absolutely have to buy a certain brand of monitors brand new that day to mix on its not really relevant.
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri May 30, 2014 2:57 pm

Precisely!

H
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby BJG145 » Fri May 30, 2014 3:43 pm

johnny h wrote:Its strange how excitable people get with this 'breaking in' nonsense...Unless you are mixing a mission critical session and for some bizarre reason absolutely have to buy a certain brand of monitors brand new that day to mix on its not really relevant.


Well said. Who cares?!
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby fay spook » Sat May 31, 2014 3:57 pm

Don't forget if you borrow some monitors from a shop and they are fresh out of the box.........try to get the older/run-in demo pair. You do all listen to monitors before you buy them don't you???????

Things that need running in from a couple of sports I know: running shoes and boxing gloves. You would never wear a new pair of either for a race or fight. (I await the first comment about running in boxing gloves.........) :round1:
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:58 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:As I mentioned earlier, I have asked for some hard measurements to illustrate the statement made earlier by Pete Thomas that "When the drive unit is new its free air resonance will be higher (by up to 10%)". I will publish them here when I receive them, not that you'll believe them, I'm sure... ;)


Okay... Now that PMC has got it's R&D department installed in its new headquarters, they've run a few tests specifically for SOS.

Here are some graphs of pre and post run-in data. The waterfall plots show the inherent resonances in the drive unit pre and post burn-in. The effect is obvious if you overlay the two plots and switch between them -- the resonances clearly reduce after burn-in. For anyone not familiar with waterfall plots, the waterfall shows the output from the drive unit after the input signal is switched off at 0ms. All output thereafter is the speaker resonating...the mountain range effect indicates the primary resonances.

Original Driver:

Image

After 8-hours run-in:

Image

The two plots below indicate the changing free-air resonant frequency for PMC's 5-inch and ten-inch woofers as the compliance of the surround alters. The two lines on each plot are for the original (black) and 8-hour run-in (red) drivers. The free-air resonance shows up on the impedance plot very nicely and reduces in both cases. Pete tells me that these measurements were taken after 8-hours of medium level use, which is the period of greatest change, but that the changes continue to settle down further over about 40 hours and are then fully stable for the life of the driver.

10-inch driver, free-air resonance changes from roughly 45 to 40Hz:

Image

5-inch driver, free air resonance changes from roughly 50 to 45Hz:

Image

Hope that is of interest and elucidation! And Dave, you might now want to rethink your claim that:

f37a wrote: "My point has always been that there is no objective evidence for an effect that I say does not happen...
;)

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:53 am

I have seen graphs like that before - the difference is typical for a slight change in temperature!
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby ef37a » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:37 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:As I mentioned earlier, I have asked for some hard measurements to illustrate the statement made earlier by Pete Thomas that "When the drive unit is new its free air resonance will be higher (by up to 10%)". I will publish them here when I receive them, not that you'll believe them, I'm sure... ;)

Okay... Now that PMC has got it's R&D department installed in its new headquarters, they've run a few tests specifically for SOS.

Here are some graphs of pre and post run-in data. The waterfall plots show the inherent resonances in the drive unit pre and post burn-in. The effect is obvious if you overlay the two plots and switch between them -- the resonances clearly reduce after burn-in. For anyone not familiar with waterfall plots, the waterfall shows the output from the drive unit after the input signal is switched off at 0ms. All output thereafter is the speaker resonating...the mountain range effect indicates the primary resonances.

Original Driver:

Image

After 8-hours run-in:

Image

The two plots below indicate the changing free-air resonant frequency for PMC's 5-inch and ten-inch woofers as the compliance of the surround alters. The two lines on each plot are for the original (black) and 8-hour run-in (red) drivers. The free-air resonance shows up on the impedance plot very nicely and reduces in both cases. Pete tells me that these measurements were taken after 8-hours of medium level use, which is the period of greatest change, but that the changes continue to settle down further over about 40 hours and are then fully stable for the life of the driver.

10-inch driver, free-air resonance changes from roughly 45 to 40Hz:

Image

5-inch driver, free air resonance changes from roughly 50 to 45Hz:

Image

Hope that is of interest and elucidation! And Dave, you might now want to rethink your claim that:

f37a wrote: "My point has always been that there is no objective evidence for an effect that I say does not happen...
;)

H

Ok. Hands up! In THIS particular case the effect can be demonstrated. I still stand by my other point that such products should be sold IN specification, especially such expensive products!

Can we also have some test results that show that the speakers do not "burn out" after a few years?

Dave.
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby fay spook » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:15 pm

ef37a wrote:
Ok. Hands up! In THIS particular case the effect can be demonstrated. I still stand by my other point that such products should be sold IN specification, especially such expensive products!

Can we also have some test results that show that the speakers do not "burn out" after a few years?

Dave.


If it helps I have a pair of NOS SEAS drivers you can test to see if they break in too. Hopefully we will see they do and then we can start to build a picture of what happens during break in. Or maybe you can show some don't break in to back up your thoughts. You can let the test driver cool down in case others are concerned about variations due to temperature. I'm sure the PMC engineers are aware of temperature variations as well. Why isn't anyone asking if the drivers were tested at the same altitude?????

As for the manufacturer running speakers in for you. If they say you need to in the manual that should be enough shouldn't it? Otherwise it would take a brave manufacturer to add a "break-in" charge, or perhaps they could have this as an optional extra? Now who would pay the extra especially on a set of monitors under £2000?
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:24 pm

Once again, I must repete myself - that resonance graph is absolutely typical for a speaker that has become warmer.

Not only is the difference microscopic, but is exactly what I would expect from a driver that has been warmed up by several hours of use.
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby alexis » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:30 pm

How do those visual changes translate into what we can hear ... can audio professionals hear the difference between the two sets of plots/graphs ... how important are the differences when mixing?
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:32 pm

I think we can give the PMC R&D team credit for having sufficient intelligence and experience not to be fooled by the effects of operating temperature, air temperature, pressure or altitude!

And a 11% shift in the free air resonance frequency is hardly microscopic!

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:39 pm

alexis wrote:How do those visual changes translate into what we can hear

As I quoted Pete Thomas on saying earlier in this thread:

Pete Thomas wrote:... a new bass driver will have an excessively damped bass which sounds dry and lacking in weight until run in.

This agrees with my experience -- typically if the crossover and cabinet designs are sufficiently critical that the free-air resonance is paramount to the desired performance, the bass end will sound obviously tight, dry and 'cardboardy' until it loosens up. Not all speakers exhibit this effect, and those that do vary in the extent though.

... can audio professionals hear the difference between the two sets of plots/graphs ... how important are the differences when mixing?

A novice can hear the difference -- ask anyone that has bought brand new PMCs! ;) It shouldn't affect mixing because no one is likely to mix anything important on brand spanking new monitors.

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:45 pm

ef37a wrote:Ok. Hands up! In THIS particular case the effect can be demonstrated.


:D

I still stand by my other point that such products should be sold IN specification, especially such expensive products!


I'll leave you to take that up with the manufacturer the next time you buy high-end monitors.... ;)

Can we also have some test results that show that the speakers do not "burn out" after a few years?


I think the fact that there are many old monitors still in use proves that point already... although there are also plenty of knackered speakers about where the outer suspension has failed for one reason or another. Most are due to over-excursion, but many are because the roll surround material has fatigued and degraded.

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Trevor Johnson » Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:31 pm

Outwith the changes already described, I suspect that another important factor is that over the first few days that the listener has new monitors, the listener themselves change and hear different things to previously. That may reinforce the perception of a burning-in period.
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby tonemangler » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:42 pm

Are you saying our ears need a burning in period as well? I'd like to see a graph of that! :headbang:
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Jun 15, 2014 12:11 am

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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby tonemangler » Sun Jun 15, 2014 3:56 pm

:D
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Re: "breaking in" monitors

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:59 am

Great response Hugh/PMC, fascinating. As an aside where is PMC now based last time I visited they were in Luton.

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