Burning-in as a non-linear experience

I know there has been loads of discussions on the burning-in process of components as well as their parts. If someone does not believe it happens, please do not respond. This is to address mainly the experience people had in burning in components or their parts. The burning-in process is usually described as a linear process, getting from bad to good. But in my experience, and in my system, it is not a linear process. It usually starts from pretty good, to better, then worse, then better, then horrible, and finally wonderful. I was wondering if people had a similar experience. These are pretty drastic changes... And this topic is mainly to focus on this particular thing: non-linear changes during the burning-in process. I had this experience with Furutech NCF outlets, but now I can see the same may apply also to my new capacitors. I have recently replaced my Samsung capacitors with Nichicon LGL2G821MELC40, not an audiophile sort, but the only ones that I could fit in. People are reporting about audiophile capacitors needing a lot of time burning in, I was wondering also if non-audiophile capacities might sometimes need the extended time in a high-resolution system and if their burning-in might also happen not exactly from moving gradually from bad to good. 


(1) without prejudice to the expressed merits in yiur post, “ run-in” rather than “burn-in” is a better and more accurate description of the concept.

(2) “ The burning-in process is usually described as a linear process, getting from bad to good. But in my experience, and in my system, it is not a linear process. It usually starts from pretty good, to better, then worse, then better, then horrible, and finally wonderful. I was wondering if people had a similar experience.l…”

- Yep, I concur that burn-in and audio performance improvements therein are not linear in its classical sense ( ergo an overall uptick trend line) Rather, it is a series of ad hoc step transactions with flat area intermittent pauses in the process… but never a retreat to the worse .

- In any case, the disturbing concept that you described as an initial performance improvement followed by a crazy “bobsled to hell” fall, is bizarre at a minimum in the extreme IMO. , My first thoughts are that there may be something either FUHBAR in the setup, or your room adverse acoustic warts were attended to.

In 50+ years in the crazy hobby with many systems …, and now sitting at the lifelong apex with a $50K 2-channel “A” system ….I have never experienced a roller coaster retreat experience that you describe, Upticks followed by pauses… sure….. but never a steep deep dive event to a “ horrible” anywhere in the journey.

Thank you for your answer. I myself thought it bizarre that something may come from better to horrible, and then to wonderful .But this is my experience and I don't think it's something wrong with my system. I've had this exerience with Furutechs...

The only component that I have burned in that was linear was my cartridge. A really interesting experience as it noticeably improved by the minute.

I know many people who have either seen no change or a gradual change from bad to good. I honestly envy people who buy something new and it's wonderful. I was just wondering if somebody had a different experience, meaning good-bad-better-bad-nice-bad-wonderful, as I have experienced. Of course, when I say "bad" it's not bad objectively, it's more about in relation to the final result. But then, this improvement that you hear at the end of things is so big in terms of nuances that your face smiles at the result. 

"but never a retreat to the worse" - this is something I do not agree with and this is why I have decided to start a new thread here. :-) I remember there was once a thread dedicated to Furutech outlets. Have a look. 

@serblinfan I have experienced what you describe with the Furutech NCF outlets and I believe the culprit is the Rhodium used in the outlet. I have also experienced the variations in sound when using some products that have been deeply cryogenically treated.

I experienced the same with those outlets as I also have the Furu NCF rhodium outlets in my system. But it can't be just that, as people have also reported similar experience with, for example, Black Gate capacitors. So I just thought there could be more to it than just rhodium or cryogenic treatment. 

With speakers and headphones, this has not been my experience; they tend to start off sounding pretty bad, like the various components of the speaker had never met each other, and as weeks go by, they blend together and the speaker sounds like it should after a couple of months. 

Burn in seems to normally be non-linear and varies between components.


A while back I had the experience of breaking in three identical Audio Research Reference 160s amps, without changing anything else in my system. I was very shocked how each went through exactly the same sequence… approximately but not exactly the same as other ARC components.


In general the sequence was that out of the box they sounded a bit trebly and flat. They would gradually improve for about the first 100 hours. Sounding much better. Then wildly fluctuate between bad and good for about twenty or thirty hours. I mean, when I would turn it on, i never know of it was to be Jekyll or Hyde. Then it would settle down and improve slowly… not linearly but at a diminishing rate through 600 hours. What I was surprised is, while really small… there was a small amount of improvement through 1,000 hours and then rock steady.

I have lots of experience with other components as well. But this tends to be how ARC has been in the last twenty years.

On a related issue. Warm up on the Audio Reseach Reference 5 preamps was very unique. Just turning them on was not enough to get the best sound. A signal running through it was required. It was really obvious. You could turn it on for an hour and then sit down and listen to music. The first ten minutes it did not sound that great… and then over about ten seconds the sound quality would improve significantly. It was really obvious and at times seemed to happen over a couple seconds. I thought I had to be imagining this… I had never heard anything like it. I went to a high end forum and I couldn’t believe it. There was a thread about this exact phenomenon.

Reference 6 do not do this, in fact the warm up effect is very small. In general it sounds great as soon as turned on… meaning I hardly ever notice the difference. There is a small difference after ten minutes, but it is very small.

I am doing this currently .i have rebuilt many Loudspeakers 

Xovets and ftiver breakin ,and Xovers much more so is very real 

The metals have to stabalize, the dielectrics 

Much more so  teflon can tske hundreds of hours .

Capacitors go through changes. Bright when  new.

Then sometimed dull then forming stability

Its bern proven many times. This applied to everything.

Digital daid by mamy companies hundreds of hours for 

It is a very low voltage  and takes time.

I agree that sound quality improvements during burn in are not strictly linear.  There are multiple regression periods where there is linear, exponential, and stepped improvements as well as plateaus.   My experience has shown the improvement model and extent of improvement varied with each piece of equipment.  However, I have never experienced periods of negative regression (decreasing SQ).  The regression over time was always positive (increasing SQ).  I had a previous Krell amplifier recapped by Krell twice.  I considered the burn in process normal where SQ improvements began to level off around 300 hours and plateaued at around 500 hours of burn-in.  I do not know if you consider that extensive.  Remember, that is only my experience with my amplifier and the CAPS from the OEM.  

I think maybe there is a correlation with my meds. The jury is still out. 

@mapman - what meds are you on.  How is the burn in experience?  Please share your findings.  LOL Have a great day!

I always thought it was generally considered to be accepted as a non linear process - certainly my experience

I have this happen every time I unhook wires or have to mess with the springs under my speakers.  It takes a couple days.

I have ribbon speaker wires and spades would not stay tight so I  had new ends installed.

In the mean time, I bought Chinese speaker wire.  Silver coated copper with Rhodium coated banana plugs that tighten down and expand the banana once inserted.  I had previously tried interconnects of the same wire and liked them.  So I purchased the speaker wire.  At first I said, detail, crisp, accurate, etc.  I have had thse wires for a month.  I feel less enthusiastic currently, it sometimes sounds conjested or muffled.  I think there has been confirmation bias, burn in, different recordings, volumes, etc.  So it can be confusing as to what is going on.  I plan to leave this wire for awhile before I put the ribbon wire Beckwith the Rhodium bananas.

I believe burn in is a genuine phenomenon because I've had it happen when I didn't expect it. I had upgraded my speakers for the first time in many years and at first I was not overwhelmed at first. I hadn't a thought in the world that there might be a burn-in effect. Then about a month to six weeks of listening I start thinking to myself "These sound really good." And from my perspective it wasn't a matter of gradual improvement; if was more like and unconscious perception that after a certain point became apparent. I would be open to the argument that it's a process of the ears training themselves to hear the qualities of the equipment that had actually not changed, but I would lean toward that an actual change takes place. What would support that is people claim to have a burn-in effect from running them 24 hours a day or whatever for a short period, where they haven't been present to hear the speakers during the process.

Your experience mirrors mine, but it has nothing to do with the physical state of the equipment. Our systems sound better or worse depending on our moods. When I am on a really foul mood I don't even turn it on. I know it will sound terrible. This phenomenon is all in our heads, nothing more, nothing less. Mechanical items can "loosen up." do only one thing and that is deteriorate.  

                                            The OP's request:

I know there has been loads of discussions on the burning-in process of components as well as their parts. If someone does not believe it happens, please do not respond. 

                                   mijostyn = typical Denyin'tologist

                     (Dunning-Kruger/OCD/unable to refrain from blather)

mijostyn always think that if it is not on a dial it exist as hallucination or brain illusion...

He does not know that there is no hallucination varying in a non linear way in time for a crowd of observer not one  as some burn-in with  too much observers testimonies ...

our dude has it easy : they all hallucinate the same movie... 😊