HOW TO: Headphone Burn-In


Burns Easily in the Sun
VIP Junglist
Oct 19, 2011
Washington DC
This is copied from a response I gave a member from another thread. However, the thread title had nothing to do with Burn-In, so I figured I'd repost my response here for everyone.


The fact of the matter is that all electronics–speakers, LED/LCD televisions, etc. require a certain amount of burn-in to achieve their optimal quality.

The theory behind "Burn-in," which is essentially "breaking in" a pair of high quality of headphones, is that the diaphragms of the headphones become more flexible and vibrate more freely after extended use. Think of it like breaking in a pair of shoes. It takes time to get truly comfortable in them because the sole and shoe shape have to conform to your foot, which occurs after they've been worn for a while or broken in. Many have said that Burn-in is a myth. They're wrong. Unicorns are a myth. Burn-in is not. If you don't believe me, read this article by an audiophiliac of Steve Guttenberg.

Once a pair of headphones have been broken in - which can take as "little" as 40 hours or as many as 300 (It all depends on the headphones) - you'll begin to notice an increase in top end and most importantly an increased bottom end (especially noticeable with KRK 8400 which took me about 80 hours to notice the difference).

So how does one go about burning you ask? Through the continuous playing of pure tones–sin wave, sweeps, pink noise, and or AM/FM static. Some people even go so far as to play these tones simultaneously with complex music (i.e. classical) to "challenge" their headphones and add more movement to the drivers. But I digress.

Before I lay out the ground work, let me be perfectly clear by using this red colored bold font: I'm in no way responsible if you manage to fuck up your headphones. Use the following at your own risk, parental discretion advised, etc. And make sure you're using actual studio grade headphones...sorry, no Beats By Dre. :)

Headphone Burn-In:

1. Search the web for .wav files containing burn-in audio tones. Yes, these websites exist, some even offering burn-in audio generators. Just do some searching and create a burn-in playlist in your favorite audio program.

2. Ensure the volume level of the headphones is set to what you would normally have it at. Playing the burn-in audio at high volumes does not speed up the process and in fact, will fuck up your headphones. It takes time, not volume for a proper burn-in.

2. Play the audio and leave the headphones be...unless you feel like listening to shitty tones repeatedly

3. Personally, I gave my headphones a rest after 5 hours of continuous play daily once I finished using them for the day. That's just me playing it safe. Be sure to record the hours you've spent burning-in so you can evaluate the sound as you go along...and keep track of your overall burn-in time.

4. There may be a point throughout the process where your headphones sound like shit. Don't panic, this is completely normal as it lets you know the process if underway. Have patience.

5. When you've reached the 40 hour mark, try your headphones. A pair of trained ears should hear a change for the better. If they still sound like they came out of the box, keep the process going another 40 hours.

6. Repeat until satisfied. If you have reached over 300 hours, chances are your headphones aren't up to par and you didn't follow my bold red type.

For more info on Burn-in, do some Googling as I'm afraid all this typing has given me carpal tunnel.

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