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"Burning in" headphones...


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If the sound changes after being used for a few hundred hours, how do you know if you are burning them in or wearing them out?

That's the same argument I've used with audiophiles. I've said, "well, if you burn in your cables or your amplifier for 200 hours, why do you think it stops there? Maybe it keeps getting worse... or it sounds better with 2000 hours of burn-in or even 5000 hours. Where does it end?

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I think sonic memory has something to do with what, specifically, you're listening for.

A few years back I hand-selected a pair of Oktava microphones from a large cache of the same model. Oktavas vary a good bit in sound quality, unit to unit. I found two that pleased me and that also sounded the same. A year later I did the same thing, again choosing from a whole pile of mics. I hadn't thought to bring an original one with me for matching. When I got the two new ones home, they sounded identical to the original two.

I think, partially, it had something to do with my selection criteria: for one, low distortion, for another, clarity in the highs, sound balance highs to lows, etc.

I wouldn't put money on being able to match that exactly again, but I was rather pleased at the results from that event.

I don't know if I would call it "sonic memory" as much as "criteria memory," but I think many of us have more sonic memory than we give ourselves credit for. After all, when we do a gig, we know what distortion sounds like, what a dull mic sounds like, how excessive sibilance sounds, etc., etc.

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