AudioAudio: Guides

Headphones Burn-in. What is it and Does it Really Work?

headphones burn-in

There are plenty of new types of headphones available in the market. But when you purchase a new set of headphones, what do you do first? Some of you would open it and post a Snapchat story about it. Others may instantly start listening to their favorite music and turning up the bass.

Should you ask any audiophile what they’re doing with a new set of headphones, they will almost certainly tell you to burn them in. Audiophiles are music enthusiasts who are dedicated to getting the highest sound quality from their headphones, earphones, speakers, and other audio equipment.

However, some audiophiles believe that headphone burn-in is a fallacy and a waste of effort. So, what does it mean to burn in headphones? Do your headphones need to be burned in? Or will you end up damaging your headphones? Read on to find out!

What Is Headphone Burn-In?

Burn-in, often known as ‘breaking in,’ is the practice of allowing a new set of headphones to play music for 1, 100, or even 1000 hours before you use them.

A new set of headphones straight out of the box (according to audiophiles who burn-in their headphones) may not sound as nice as a pair that has been in use for a longer period. Headphones are burn-in within the first several weeks of ownership to improve sound quality.

Burn-in is the technique of thoroughly checking a system or component before putting it into service by operating it for a lengthy period of time to identify any issues.

The audio version of breaking in a new pair of sneakers is headphone burn-in. You work the diaphragm, headphone drivers, magnets, and voice coils in by playing a variety of frequencies and tones before using new headphones to listen to music or otherwise.

These components are stiff when fresh and do not replicate correct sound waves. They acquire an ideal state for reproducing audio after many hours of break-in.

The goal of breaking in new headphones is to improve their performance by enhancing the audio. On the other hand, most individuals consider breaking in new headphones to be a placebo effect.

So, how do you break in your headphones, and does it make a difference in the sound quality?

How to Burn-in Headphones?

There are a few methods for breaking in headphones. Playing a variety of music, such as white noise, pink noise, broadcast noise, frequency sweeps, and others, is one of the most prevalent. These days, a single search on YouTube will yield videos to burn into your headphones.

Additionally, you may utilize music from various genres to break in the headphones if you have one. Simply load the various audio files onto your music player, plug in your headphones, and listen.

It is advised that you listen to the audio files at a reasonably high volume during the burn-in period. Raising the volume excessively high risks damaging the headphone driver and, in the worst-case scenario, causing failure. When breaking in, it’s best to leave the headphones on, especially if you’re using pink noise or other inaudible audio files.

You don’t need to burn your headphones in for a set length of time. Specialists, audiophiles, and anyone in between have plenty of recommendations, but nothing is guaranteed to work. Headphone burn-in might take anywhere from four hours to 400 hours, depending on what you read.

Is Headphone Burn-In Effective?

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 believe burn-in works do so based on personal experience with their gear.

Some users 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 relaxation of the headphone driver.

The AKG Q 701 is one of the highly regarded headphones that, according to most audiophiles, improves over a long burn-in time. According to the reviews available on the AKG K701, a break-in time of roughly 300 hours is usually advised.

Shure denied that headphone burn-in could considerably affect the sound quality of a headset in response to an inquiry concerning burn-in or break-in. Shure also indicated that no changes in performance between old (heavily used) and new earbuds had been measured.

The AKG Q701, Beyerdynamic DT 1770, Audeze LCD 2 Classic, and Etymotic HF5 were also put to the test by RTings. Their findings revealed no indication of headphone break-in.

According to the RTings’ guide, the changes they noticed were either too minor to notice or caused by system performance swings or external noise.

Other Factors Affect Headphone Sound Quality

It seems that the verdict is still out on whether headphone burn-in improves your audio experience.

One theory is that a series of tiny adjustments add up to a significant variation in hearing quality. Certainly, headphone parts change mechanically as you are using them. That is the fact that few would dispute.

However, headphones aren’t only mechanical devices. The earpads conform to the shape of your ears, allowing for a better sealing around your ear and clearer audio.

The headphones headband may give just that little, which will assist your convenience. Incorrect headphone fit may make a significant impact on carrier frequency and loudness detection.

Moreover, as you grow more familiar with the headphones, your perception of their range and tuning is likely to shift. Alternatively, if you’ve updated considerably, you’ll notice a considerable difference between your old and new cans.


There is no definitive response that can verify whether the headphone burn-in is genuine or not after reading numerous viewpoints on the subject. But there are minor changes in certain circumstances, and it might be a psychoacoustic effect brought on by a person’s gradual adaptation to new sounds. A placebo effect has also been documented.

Though many feel that headphone burn-in is effective, the improvement in audio quality is nearly imperceptible. The sound of a headphone may likely alter over time due to a variety of variables such as softening or the ear pads falling off.

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