Headphone Burn-in/Break-in: Is It Real?

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I just have a feeling that this article will be constructed in a Q&A way, and the reason why I’m going to write it in that way is that I want you to have it as clear as possible whether you have to burn in your headphones or not. Let’s get a look into it and hopefully in the end we can come up with a verdict, all together.

What is Headphones Burn-in?

You’ve probably heard of breaking in new shoes, but have you heard of headphones burning in? Breaking in new shoes is necessary because the stiffness of new shoes causes blisters. The only way to alleviate the rigidity is to wear it more frequently, which is counterintuitive. After the wearer has achieved the most comfortable state for the shoes, the shoe is deemed broken-in.

In the realm of headphones, a process known as burn-in is said to improve the state of the headphones’ performance.

Do Headphones Need to Be Broken-in?

If you use high-end headphones, you should be aware of the burn-in procedure. Burn-in is a term used to describe the time it takes for high-quality headphones to break in. Expensive headphones frequently sound poor right out of the box until they’ve been burned in. The burn-in process can take several hours, if not more, to get your headphone speakers to sound the way they will for the rest of their life.

You may notice certain changes in the way your headphones sound during the burn-in period, which is usually for the better. This is the how-to guide, complete with step-by-step directions for burning new headphones to their best-sounding potential and obtaining the widest frequency response possible.

How do You Burn-in your headphones?

Burn-in is, for the most part, a painless and straightforward process. All you have to do is keep listening to music through your headphones. It is suggested that you play for at least 40 to 50 hours.

Pure tones such as sin wave, sweeps, pink noise, and even AM/FM static are commonly used by burn-in gurus. To give the headphones a more vigorous exercise, overlay them with more complex tones like classical music.

To speed up the burn-in process, most people do this in one sitting rather than in multiple sessions. And hey, have in mind that you don’t need to wear the headphones during the process, I mean, you can wear them if you want to go nuts, but I assume you don’t want that, do you?!

Does Headphone Burn-In Work?

Despite the fact that headphone burn-in has been documented for some time, there is no strong evidence to back it up. The majority of people who say that burn-in works, do so based on personal experience with their gear. I can agree that headphone burn-in is effective, however, you don’t need to listen to pink noise or listen to music for numerous hours.

Simply put on your headphones and start listening to music. Other elements, such as the earpads, will alter sound reproduction over time in addition to the loosening of the headphone driver.

Has Any Headphone Shown Improvement After the Burn-in Process?

The AKG Q 701 is one of the popular headphones that, according to most audiophiles, improves over a long burn-in period. According to what I’ve heard about the AKG K701, a break-in period of roughly 300 hours is usually advised.

Headset burn-in, according to Shure, does not appreciably alter the sound quality of a headphone. Shure also indicated that no changes in performance between old (heavily used) and new earphones have been measured.

The AKG Q701, Audeze LCD 2 Classic, Beyerdynamic DT 1770, and Etymotic HF5 were also put to the test. Findings revealed no indication of headphone break-in. According to them, the changes they noticed were either too minor to notice or were caused by system performance fluctuations or external noise.

What Exactly is “Burns-in”?

Nothing, really, if you think about it. Outside of EQ, the sound signature of the headphones remains the same, unchanged.

When we claim the headphones “opened up,” “the treble became less harsh over time,” or something similar, what we’re really saying is that we’ve become accustomed to and accept their distinct sound character.

This has happened to me several times over the course of hundreds, if not thousands of hours of listening. The new pair of headsets sound one way at first, but as our minds adapt to it, it begins to sound different (and hopefully better). So, considering how complex our minds may be, I believe it’s primarily a placebo.

What Are Some Tips for Headphone Burn-in?


In your burn-in playlist, set aside some time for silence. After being driven for long periods of time, this will allow your headphones to rest.

Playing intricate music and frequency sweeps at the same time may be a good way to push your headphones. Then your headphones will be tested to see if they can handle the complex sounds. Simultaneously use music-playing software and the brainwave generator.

Some argue that you should listen to music that you regularly listen to so that the headphones are matched to your preferences. Pink noise, frequency sweeps, low frequencies, or a combination of these are preferred by some.

Take into consideration the fact that the headphones won’t sound terrific for a while. They’ll undoubtedly sound better than they were out of the box at this stage, but not quite as wonderful as they will be once totally burned in.

Don’t turn up the level much higher than you’d normally listen to music. You’re aiming for burn-in time rather than volume, and playing sounds too loudly could damage your headphones.

Final Words

I have reached the end of this article and I still don’t feel confident enough to come up with a verdict and you can not blame me for that. There are many voices saying many different things and in this case, you just get really confused and don’t know how to act, but by my estimation, nothing wrong with giving it a try, I mean, will you be losing something if you decide to burn in your headphones? No, right? So, give it a try and even if it doesn’t work, you are good. 

Further Reading

Here is the section for additional reading, where you may discover some more fascinating articles on headphones as well. If you want to compare the Sony MDR V6 with MDR 7506 and learn what the differences are, look at this page.

Have you ever questioned why podcasters use headphones? You may get the answer by reading this article, and if you like it, you can continue on to another engaging post where you’ll also learn about DJs wearing headphones and if doing so serves any particular purpose.

Check out this post to locate great immersive drummer’s headphones if you’re an audiophile who enjoys using various styles of headphones.

Melissa Peterkin
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