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In Reply to: RE: Before and after speaker measurements. posted by volunteer on June 19, 2017 at 07:01:23
There was a study by Paul Barton that was done and published many years ago but I have lost any links to it. He found measureable differences but could not detect audible differences in blind tests.
It was at http://www.soundstagelive.com/factorytours/psbnrc/ but that link fails now.
I did find a link to a quote from it:
"Finally, and perhaps most controversially, Barton talks about the supposed break-in effect of components that has become so popular in audio today. Break-in refers to running components for a long time (sometimes hundreds of hours) to the point where their components "settle" into their proper operating mode. Barton doesn't doubt that some components do change subtly, but he thinks that the major improvements people think they're hearing aren't in the components at all. Barton doesn't doubt that people are hearing these changes, but thinks that what they're hearing is actually brain break-in.
Barton has examined his own speakers to test this. He has taken a Stratus Gold loudspeaker, built and measured some ten years ago, and re-measured it today. The deviation is slight, perhaps 1/4dB at most. Although that deviation can possibly be heard, it is certainly not a huge difference that one may attest to hearing. Instead, Barton surmises that the difference in sound that people are hearing over time is conditioning of the brain. He cites experiments done with sight that indicate the brain can accommodate for enormous changes fairly quickly and certainly within the hundreds of hours that audiophiles claim changes occur in. Could this apply to hearing, too? Barton thinks that more often than not, what happens is that the changes in perceived sound that are attributed to component break-in are simply the brain becoming accustomed to the sound. He warns listeners not to fool themselves."
Do you know if this was the only speaker tested. I can't see any scientist taking one sample and then applying the conclusion to all speakers in existence.
I bought a pair of B&W DM 302s in the 1990s and for the first ten hours the speaker would make very LOUD popping sounds akin to popcorn in the microwave. It would only do it for a little while and then go away - after the first 10 hours it never did it again. So technically that is break in.
Also did the PSB use rubber surrounds or foam surrounds - That likely matters as well.
I asked Peter Qvortrup of Audio Note years ago about break in. And he said no break in on metal tweeters or speaker drivers using rubber surrounds. The Audio Note K used rubber surrounds (which I was asking about) back in the day but has now been switched to better sounding foam. The K used a silk dome tweeter and paper woofer.
My memory of the Stratus Gold is that it used some sort of plastic woofer and metal tweeters. Plastic or Kevlar with a rubber surround versus many others using paper/foam.
The materials matter. On the one hand you don't want drift - but on the other hand it could be argued that some drivers have known drift where they know what the driver will be 40 hours or 400 hours of use where it takes this long for the driver to reach it sweetspot and will be what it will be for the next 25 years.
Similar to break pads on cars or just a basic pair of shoes. Buy a pair of should and immediately run 8miles and see what happens. Versus buying the same shoes walking around for two weeks and THEN going for the run. Runners know that the first poor fool is going to have blisters with their own blisters! The second guy will be fine.
One wonders what his justification for that claim is as it seems non-sensical.
Over 90% of suspension stiffness comes from the spider so the influence of surrounds is very, very limited and metal dome tweeters use the same suspension as their non-metal brethren so they will have the same break in issues as any other tweeter.
It could be just experience - he was a dealer/importer and has heard and had to break in most stereo brands. He also buys a lot of his top competitor's products. It's funny to see AvantGarde Acoustic Duos speakers sitting in his broom closet for example.
It could also be a bit of dry humour swipe at metal tweeters in general. This would not surprise me as one can see from the jab he takes at pretty much all Solid State amplification in his "Performance Level System" on his website.
The physical materials do have a sound. Perhaps break in analogous to why we wear shoes made of cloth and leather versus shoes made of aluminum/titanium/beryllium/steel.
I can't speak too much from personal experience because most of the time I try to save money by buying demonstration models that have been broken in before I bought them.
NEW speakers out of box are as follows
The B&W DM302 was the most profound and very obvious. The AN J I bought new and that seemed to go through a long process but it sounded good immediately - just sounded better after several hours (maybe 20hours).
My KEF LS-50 was fine right out of the box and so was my AX Two.
With pair matching and driver to driver mismatching from most brands it would be hard to test because you can't test one pair of speakers against another pair and note the measurement changes when pair matching is generally piss poor (see any Ken Kessler measurement). You would have to measure only the same pair of speakers fresh out of the box and maybe at 10 hours, 20 hours and 100 hours and see what happens.
And then it would still only apply to that speaker using those drivers.
....I have fond memories of them.
See ya. Dave
Hi Kal and all,
Just to shed some light on this -- that was in an old factory tour that's still around somewhere, just not online.
That said, I remember talking to Paul about this. By "subtly," he had said to me that any changes were extremely small, if there at all -- even with speakers that were played for years.
Back then at least, his belief was that the break-in effect people were and still are hearing had more to do with listening conditioning than with the component itself.
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