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Well done Phil!

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:32 am

I am surprised the forum pages are not sizzling with vociferous responses to Mr Ward's elegant dismantling of the "Running In" fandangle!

He cites a couple of pachyderms including one that had never occurred to me? Why do speakers ALWAYS improve with use? We must be careful of course, I do not wish to offend those (my absolute betters!) who are convinced speakers need the practice, but facts IS facts and there seems to be precious few about this effect (do reviewers for instance get a solid assurance from the manufacturers that the review samples are spanking and only ever had a few minutes "spec test"? How many samples have been "broken in" multiple times, each with an attendant "That's MUCH better!" from the reviewer?)

My beef has always been, if speakers cost north of £1000 each, surely I am PAYING for something ON SPEC out of the box? It ain't rocket science. Stick the woofers on a 6.3V filament transformer (if you are strapped PMC can send you a couple. Watch the HT windings!) overnight. That would put 5 watts or so at 50Hz (actually nearer 6W for a nominal 8 Ohm speaker since they are essentially resistive at 50Hz) and should 'age' the suspension nicely! Although of course Phil has given the numbers. Don't matter diddly.

It seems however that audio and science will stay poles apart. The "Great mic pre Exposure" was not hard science but I would aver good enough to stop much of the bllx talked about pre amps. It didn't.

In the absence of any solid evidence for the need for running in, some makers still suggest it. I can only think there must be some sort of "fall back warranty wriggle" going on there but I am blowed if I can see it!

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Running In new monitor speakers article

Postby Forum Admin » Fri Jul 20, 2018 8:45 am

The online version of Phil's 'Running In' article is to be found here:
https://www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/do-new-monitor-speakers-really-need-be-run-in
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:06 pm

ef37a wrote:I am surprised the forum pages are not sizzling with vociferous responses to Mr Ward's elegant dismantling of the "Running In" fandangle!

It's a point of view... Ask a dozen different speaker designers and you'll get something close to a 50/50 split on the stance. Been there, done that! ;-)

Why do speakers ALWAYS improve with use?

The argument -- whether you accept it or not -- is that the speaker's initial parameters are slightly adrift from their published specs, which means their performance is slightly off initially... but they generally drift towards the intended values as they start to be used, and thus the speaker system as a whole then works as intended (calculated). Speakers are inherently designed and developed with 'run in' drivers, of course....

Even Phil agrees that the speakers parameters do change slightly during initial use. His argument is that the change is too small to make a noticeable difference... and a lot of speakers designers agree with him. I agree with him, too -- the tuning of most ported speakers really isn't that critical when it comes to the driver specs, as Phil has shown.

On the other hand, Pete Thomas at PMC provided plots for a forum thread here a while back, taken from one of his own ATL speakers, that clearly showed the difference was both measurable and audible in that specific speaker design...

...do reviewers for instance get a solid assurance from the manufacturers that the review samples are spanking and only ever had a few minutes "spec test"? How many samples have been "broken in" multiple times, each with an attendant "That's MUCH better!" from the reviewer?

Usually we get brand new speakers, sometimes we get new speakers that the manufacturer (or distributor) tells us they have 'run in' for us in advance, and sometimes we get speakers that have done the rounds of other reviewers (or shows) first (and occasionally wrecked!).

None of it makes any difference to me. If I'm reviewing a speaker it gets powered up as soon as it can be and I have it running in the background for a while until I can sit down and audition it properly. That's so that I can makes sure they work reliably, assess how hot they get when left on all day, see if they suffer interference from mobile phones, etc etc... So they all get some time (a day or two, usually) of pre-running before I assess them regardless.

It seems however that audio and science will stay poles apart.

Yes. Having started my career as a video engineer it has always frustrated me how lackadaisical the audio industry is, in comparison, when it comes to specifications and references!

In the absence of any solid evidence for the need for running in, some makers still suggest it. I can only think there must be some sort of "fall back warranty wriggle" going on there but I am blowed if I can see it!

I think a very real part of it is to overcome the potential for upset when someone buys new speakers and then finds they sound different from whatever they had before -- especially if the new ones are very expensive. The 'give it 50 hours to run in' thing means the user will have time to get used to the new sound character and learn to appreciate the benefits (hopefully). I'm sure it minimises the help-line calls and returns...

On the other hand, I have genuinely heard speakers occasionally that sounded rather tight and constrained initially before opening out after a few hours use. It was not an imaginary effect.... And in another thread here we have someone volunteering their experience of 'running in' a specific type of headphone.

So I'm sure the arguments will continue to rage and the opinions remain diametrically opposed... It's all part of the fun! :D

My own stance is that 'running in' can do no harm. If you don't want to listen critically to the speakers (or 'phones) until they've been running a day or two, that's fine by me. Or if you want to use them critically straight out of the box, that's fine too.... The only thing that matters is that they allow you to do the job -- analyse sound -- accurately, reliably, and without fatigue. If they do that straight off, great. If they don't initially, but do after a little use, fine. If they still don't, send them back!

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:32 pm

Thank you Hugh.
I agree with much of what you say but will take issue with "does no harm to run speakers in"

No harm to the speaker perhaps but I can think of a scenario (you sort of touched on it) whereby a studio owner buys in a pair of very expensive monitors for a weekend's rush job because their present incumbent monitors are unavailable, blown a tweeter mayhap!

They buy the nearest, maybe EXACT model only to find they sound rather different and are then told, "you need to drive ***s off them for 50 Hours". This of course, supposes such a thing can happen.

I still have never had a satisfactory explanation as to why speakers don't come run in IF it is in fact needed. Not the £299 "Sokits" of course but as I said, before, at £1000 + a pop I would expect them right!

Cars. Might be few here that remember how that went? You had to drive very slowly and smoothly in each gear and not exceed about 45mph in top. Oil flush and change at about 1,000 miles and another at 5k? At some point I seem to recall the rocker box cover had to come off and the head bolts re-torqued ?

Pre-blasting monitors seems like turning beer into water by comparison!

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:46 pm

ef37a wrote:No harm to the speaker perhaps but I can think of a scenario (you sort of touched on it) whereby a studio owner buys in a pair of very expensive monitors for a weekend's rush job because their present incumbent monitors are unavailable, blown a tweeter mayhap!

Well, as Phil argues, it's not something that affects most speakers anyway... but for those that are affected, the manufacturer usually has a demo stock and would generally be happy to provide a loan replacement set to a pro studio pending the repairs. I know PMC will happily do this, for example!

I still have never had a satisfactory explanation as to why speakers don't come run in IF it is in fact needed.

Probably because it takes up a lot of space and generates a lot of noise... and why do it at the factory when the user can do it perfectly well at their own expense... if they are 'believers' and can be bothered! ;-)

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby desmond » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:52 pm

Running in shakes off any excess polystyrene packing bits that might have adhered to the speaker during shipping.

That's the *real* reason... :headbang: :bouncy:
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:03 pm

:bouncy: :thumbup:
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:07 pm

I did once have a subwoofer to review that rattled terribly.

On closer inspection I discovered that the previous reviewer, after opening the large cardboard packaging, had stupidly thrown the big box staples inside... During its shipping to me these staples had then been attracted to the huge magnet of the driver via the reflex port!

Doh! :headbang:
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Phil Ward » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:55 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I did once have a subwoofer to review that rattled terribly.

On closer inspection I discovered that the previous reviewer, after opening the large cardboard packaging, had stupidly thrown the big box staples inside... During its shipping to me these staples had then been attracted to the huge magnet of the driver via the reflex port!

Doh! :headbang:

Yet one more reason why subwoofers should never have reflex ports :-)

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:18 pm

I still have never had a satisfactory explanation as to why speakers don't come run in IF it is in fact needed.

Probably because it takes up a lot of space and generates a lot of noise... and why do it at the factory when the user can do it perfectly well at their own expense...

Oh come on! There are innumerable industrial processes why "components" need to be aged or prepared "by time" in some way. Most costing a H of a lot less than top line monitors! (I watch a lot of "How It's Made"!)

Making a small room soundproof and hooking the woofers (and mids where applicable) to an AC power supply would cost peanuts to a decent company.

No, I suspect it is all Smoke and Mirrors and is intended to make the product somehow "mysterious" and done by the AdPuff Dept.

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:26 pm

ef37a wrote:No, I suspect it is all Smoke and Mirrors and is intended to make the product somehow "mysterious" and done by the AdPuff Dept.

Why am I sensing 'confirmation bias' here? :D
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:28 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:No, I suspect it is all Smoke and Mirrors and is intended to make the product somehow "mysterious" and done by the AdPuff Dept.

Why am I sensing 'confirmation bias' here? :D

Don't know. Why are you?

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:39 pm

Just for the benefit of newcomers to this (almost) annual debate, the previous thread discussing this (with graphs from PMC on page 3) can be found here:

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=40741&hilit=%26amp%3Bquot%3Bpete+thomas%26amp%3Bquot%3B&start=40

I should also add, for completeness (before I receive an email reminding me) that another strong advocate of the 'there is no run-in effect' are the nice people at Neumann, and I didn't observe any such effect with the (run-in) review units or my own (brand new in box) KH310s.
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:47 pm

My tuppence worth from the dark side (Hi-fi sales) is that we found with the cheaper speakers there was a frequently noticeable difference between straight-out-of-the-box and few-hours-use.
Whether this was down to lower quality control standards in manufacturing, cheaper construction materials, less tolerant designs (form over function), or all or none of the above I have no idea.
What we did find is that as you moved up the price range the idea seemed to be talked about more but the differences were less. :)
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby ef37a » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:25 pm

blinddrew wrote:My tuppence worth from the dark side (Hi-fi sales) is that we found with the cheaper speakers there was a frequently noticeable difference between straight-out-of-the-box and few-hours-use.
Whether this was down to lower quality control standards in manufacturing, cheaper construction materials, less tolerant designs (form over function), or all or none of the above I have no idea.
What we did find is that as you moved up the price range the idea seemed to be talked about more but the differences were less. :)

Now THAT makes some sense Drew. You had a large sample of different brands over a decent period of time and probably a "demo" pair or two as a reference?

Just to throw a handful of washers into the crankcase? The (rock) guitar community have a section that think a guitar speaker is not fit to listen to unless it has had HUNDREDS of hours at high level put through it, at which point it is practically falling apart.

Guitar speakers are of course nothing like 'hi fi' woofers since their suspension is just cone material and the cone displacement minute. They are more akin to drum skins than speakers!

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 4:29 pm

blinddrew wrote:What we did find is that as you moved up the price range the idea seemed to be talked about more but the differences were less. :)

... and the listeners more critical, too, perhaps? ;)
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jul 20, 2018 5:09 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
blinddrew wrote:What we did find is that as you moved up the price range the idea seemed to be talked about more but the differences were less. :)

... and the listeners more critical, too, perhaps? ;)
Probably, at least they thought they were. ;)
As Dave said, we did do quite a few tests comparing demo sets with new-out-of-the-box ones and sometimes it was quite pronounced. But particularly at the bottom end of the scale you could have greater difference between two new speakers than between a run-in and non-run-in set so it was not nearly as scientific as I would have liked. This also led me to think that general construction standards probably had more to do with it.
The other significant flaw in our test methodology was that we (naturally) had considerably more budget speakers than we had expensive ones, so the test set was naturally smaller.
All of which is an overly complicated way of saying, "Meh, it probably depends."
:)
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:18 pm

Yes, at the budget end of things I'd expect quite a wide spread of component/driver tolerances and thus a greater spread of tonalities.
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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Phil Ward » Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:25 pm

Just when you thought this had all gone quiet again.....

I think I mentioned in the SoS Forum a while back that I did a big piece of work on running-in back in the early 2000s that culminated in a feature in Hi-Fi Plus magazine. The work involved a virgin pair of B&Ws, many hours of high level pink noise for one of them and a comprehensive set of before/after measurements. Anyway, while I suspect it won't change many minds, I tracked the feature down the other day and I’ve posted it on my blog: https://musicandmiscellany.com/2018/07/ ... n-running/.

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Re: Well done Phil!

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:32 pm

Interesting read -- thanks Phil.

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