Burn in vs perception

Posting here in speakers, but could probably go in any of the forums. Question of the night: how much of burn in of components is actually burn in of our perception? That is, is burn in partly us becoming accustomed to a change in sound.

I’m listening to my SF Amati Traditions that at first I found a bit strident, but I now find lush, dynamic, and generally brilliant. I bought them as 1-year old demos so theoretically they should have been played enough to be broken in. I haven’t changed anything in my system—I have been working on my room with more stuff, but that’s it.

Sometimes reviewers or arm chair audiophiles (me) will state that said component needs to be plugged in and left alone for weeks until it gels with the system. Could this simply be our own perception burn in OR is something real happening here?

For speakers I can buy it (woofers need to loosen up and all), but I almost always buy used, and I almost alway a) find a difference of a new component (good or bad), and b) in time, I couldn’t tell you what the change was. Maybe just me, but our brains are pretty good level setters.

I willing to bet this can be a large part of “burn in”.




I think BURN IN is the biggest hoax and misunderstanding there is in the Audiophile community! The statements people making about anything needing burn in makes no sense at all. The sound of the equipment is not changing but peoples own hearing and perceptions to the new equipment sounds are. It's simply a matter of your ears making the adjustments.


Modern electronics, especially high-end equipment has very tight tolerances on the resistors and capacitors and components, and their values simply don't change enough over a short period of time to impact the sound. I've even seen people talking about fuse and cable burn in! Please explain exactly what is being burned in? 

Agree. Burn in is mostly nonsense. Exception for things mechanical.

People who claim that cables burn in should be committed for their own safety.

I find this thread to be reassuring.  I've always felt a little inadequate because I couldn't discern any difference in electronics after they burn in other than the difference that warming up makes.  I definitely can hear burn in with phono cartridges and speakers but not with amps, pre amps, DACs, etc.  Perhaps there really isn't a difference to hear.

I guess it has to be somewhat person and experience related. But for me 100% burn-in. I have been an audiophile for fifty years. I am sure I wondered for the first few years as I developed my listening skills. I have broken in dozens of components now and I have very good listening skills… no imagination or adjustment involved. I know exactly what I want and how the current sound differers from it, and if there is a small change.


For instance, over the last five or six years I broke in three identical copies of an Audio Research Reference 160s. It was hard not to hear the complex behavior of the change in sound on the first (typically they take 600 hours to break in). To my surprise the second went through exactly the same complex behavior. I couldn’t believe it… but the third did as well. Exactly the same sequence over the same timeframes. I also noticed a very small continuing improvement out to 1,000 hour befor no further change.

My opinion is that burn-in is greatly exaggerated in audio.  Tubes clearly burn in--they are red hot glowing metal.  

Wires do not change much if at al.

Here is an unrelated fact.  Suggesting the need for hundreds of hours of burn-in has avoided many, many returns.  By the time 300 hours of listening time is up, the listener has gotten used to it.