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#15985 - 07/23/03 05:51 PM Re: An argument for component break in
sushi Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 1490
Loc: Dallas, TX
Cooper and folks,

Here and here are two of the better (more meaningful) AVSforum threads on the subject.

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#15986 - 07/23/03 06:38 PM Re: An argument for component break in
sushi Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 1490
Loc: Dallas, TX
In reply to:

I will reiterate: if perceived break-in is because of sonic differences from previous speakers, then why don't people ever report their speakers getting brighter or losing bass over time?



Well, you don't have a proof that people have NOT reported such changes.

Seriously... People may well have actually perceived that direction of changes. However, because of the overwhelming degree of prevailing "conventional wisdom" on the speaker break-in, they may well simply dismiss their own perception and conclude that the given speaker is simply "mediocre," especially if the person feels that he is an "audiophile" with highly discerning ears. Or, some people may well have actually reported somewhere such changes, but wouldn't refer the change as a result of "speaker break-in" because of the same reason above. Or, even if somebody reported a case of a "degradative break-in," nobody might have paid a serious attention to such reports because of the prevailing view...

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#15987 - 07/23/03 06:47 PM Re: An argument for component break in
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16277
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
We might as well declare the issue of break-in as a matter of faith. And as with all matters of faith, it's pointless to say I am right and you are wrong. Until there is direct, repeatable, and irrefutable scientific evidence pointing one way or the other, I'm not going to form an opinion.

After all, whether it's your brain or the speaker breaking in, the end-result is the same: you perceive the speaker's sound as improving. And since everything you can possibly experience in the world is subject to perception, perception is all that matters.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#15988 - 07/23/03 10:02 PM Re: An argument for component break in
cblake Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/21/03
Posts: 80
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Well I completely agree with pmbuko: it's a matter of faith. The reason is that there are a lot of things we don't know how to measure. Like soundstaging and resolution. Graphs of horizontal dispersion and noise floors do not prove anything, though they are useful.

The Axioms may well have a shorter or less substantial break-in period than other speakers, especially if they were designed that way. I would assume that the manufacturer would understand the characteristics of their drivers over time, especially if they manufacture the driver itself.

One reason I started this thread was not so much to convince everyone that they must believe in break-in, but rather to keep people open to the possibility; when I comment on the changes I have heard, I don't want them to be dismissed out of hand because people feel that break-in is logically impossible. I think it's important to never let your theories overrule your empirical or common sense. This leads to academic, synthetic answers which may or may not be accurate. Have you all seen Internet accounts claiming the moon landing was a hoax? Sure looks convincing when you read those pages!

M22 Break-in Observations
As I have rapidly approached 15 hours of solid use of my M22s, I will give my break-in impressions. One thing that surprised me was that after the first few CDs, the overall tonal balance seemed quite neutral. The unnatural high-end sizzle that I noted on my first CD, Wildflowers, was not very noticeable after the first 5 hours. Classical recordings sound completely neutral above the lower frequencies, as they don't seem to demand a huge amount of transient energy from the treble. Nonetheless, when I crank up the volume past "normal" levels, that sharp treble is apparent on loud cymbal clashes and the like. I believe the tweeters are broken in for lower volumes.

As for the bass, I finally turned off my subwoofer to get a better feeling for it. Definitely strong at some frequencies, but there are still some points where it seems to be missing some weight. Maybe even in the upper bass, above some room resonation frequency. So I feel that the bass may be less broken in than the treble.

Question for Axiom engineers
Regarding sound measurements: how do you measure for frequency response as it varies with dynamics? That is, I'm sure my M22s measure very flat at a fixed volume with warble tones; my Paradigm Mini Monitors sounded bright in comparison. But I strongly believe that a quick, loud, high-frequency transient would be disproportionately loud or harsh. Maybe there's a similar effect with the bass.

-Cooper

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#15989 - 07/23/03 11:52 PM Re: An argument for component break in
chesseroo Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 05/13/02
Posts: 4829
Loc: western canada
Well i had a quick couple of minutes to peruse this always hot topic while glossing over sushi's excellent links to the discussion over at AVS. I don't have very long on the dial in account so here goes.

Cooper:
In reply to:

Graphs of horizontal dispersion and noise floors do not prove anything, though they are useful.



EVERYTHING to measure is worth measuring.
From a scientist perspective, that is the ultimate truth.
In reply to:

One reason I started this thread was not so much to convince everyone that they must believe in break-in, but rather to keep people open to the possibility; when I comment on the changes I have heard, I don't want them to be dismissed out of hand because people feel that break-in is logically impossible.



No one has dismissed these ideas but the logic behind some of the ideas stumps the laws of physics (biwiring for example). From an analytical point of view, it just doesn't make sense.
In reply to:

I think it's important to never let your theories overrule your empirical or common sense. This leads to academic, synthetic answers which may or may not be accurate.



Of the empirical evidence mentioned by Alan based on the tests at the NRC (anechoic chamber) in controlled experiments using both electronic measuring equipment and human subjects, the speaker break-in idea was concluded as myth or in the least, inconsequential if you prefer. That is empirical proof based on the science, not conjecture. This answer is not synthetic nor derived from a random mind. It has been tested. It has been proved.
Whether people choose to believe it or not is ultimately still up to them.

To decide on auditory change aside from electronic measurements you can certainly use human subjects, but designing the experiment is hard to do. You absolutely must remove the individual bias before trying to do it. Home audio listening, audio shops, talking with others is loaded with aspects that will sway your perceptions no matter how hard you try or believe you will be objective. The experiment requires that a third party controls those elements so your brain is put into as neutral ground as possible and so far the only experiments i know of that have tried to do this were the NRC experiments that Alan had mentioned.
Never rule out the power of the mind. Bias is a powerful thing, more so since it is primarily an unconcious entity.


Sushi had the far most eloquent response i have seen yet to date on my equivalent opinion on the break-in issue (if he doesn't mind i'm going to repost this from the AVS forum):

I do not disagree with you at all that you definitely hear the differences. What I (we) are trying to discuss here is whether the perceived difference is due to a real physical change in the sound coming from the speaker, or it is due to a change in the psycho-auditory processing in your own brain, which can be evoked by your very thoughts and knowledge that you have presumably "improved" the equipment. I do not think anybody is lying, denying or rejecting anything. Just that some people here (including myself) want a more rigorous "proof" that an actual physical change, not merely a psycho-acoustic alteration, has occurred on the sound quality.

Just out of curiousity, what is your particular belief in regards to biwiring, expensive cables and biamping?
Any quick thoughts on those subjects?

I will try to keep reading this thread over the next couple of days but there are no guarantees i can reply.
If i don't, have a good weekend all!

_________________________
"Those who preach the myths of audio are ignorant of truth."

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#15990 - 07/24/03 01:34 AM Re: An argument for component break in
sushi Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 1490
Loc: Dallas, TX
In reply to:

The reason is that there are a lot of things we don't know how to measure. Like soundstaging and resolution. Graphs of horizontal dispersion and noise floors do not prove anything, though they are useful.



Specifically with regard to the speaker break-in, we should not diffuse out or mystify the role of physical measurements. There are only a very limited number of visco-elastic moving parts on the speaker drivers that could exhibit the use-dependent physical changes, namely, the spiders, surrounds, and the cones/domes themselves. I cannot think of anything else that could possibly change permanently. In other words, these changes, if they are indeed physical, must manifest as obvious changes in the driver's T/S parameters that are readily measurable (i.e., resonance frequency, quality factors, equivalent air compliance, etc.). There is little room here for unmeasurable, mystic alterations.

I do agree that the currently available measurement techniques do not completely cover what we may perceive as a change the sound quality. But specifically in the case of speaker break-in, the actual change in sound quality must be the direct consequence of these measurable physical changes in the driver parts.

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#15991 - 07/24/03 01:57 AM Re: An argument for component break in
nowave Offline
old hand

Registered: 09/14/02
Posts: 97
Loc: USA
In reply to chess:

--------
I do not disagree with you at all that you definitely hear the differences. What I (we) are trying to discuss here is whether the perceived difference is due to a real physical change in the sound coming from the speaker, or it is due to a change in the psycho-auditory processing in your own brain, which can be evoked by your very thoughts and knowledge that you have presumably "improved" the equipment. I do not think anybody is lying, denying or rejecting anything. Just that some people here (including myself) want a more rigorous "proof" that an actual physical change, not merely a psycho-acoustic alteration, has occurred on the sound quality.
-----------


I personally ally myself with the skeptics on this one... but at the end of the day - if it is in the brain, or in the "pudding" (as it were) - it is still "there." I personally don't give a rat's ass if the break-in period were in the speaker or in my ear, but I do know that it took my a bit of time to fully "understand" the sound of my new speakers.

I really can't understand this debate - it seems worse than the speaker wire one. Whereas I think that one is completely spurious and silly, this one documents a real effect, either real or imagined (I hesitate to use that word, but I'm sure you all understand my meaning). Most, if not all, have experienced this effect to one degree or another, despite our skepticism. It happens... and why? I am not personally kept awake at night due to such things. Perhaps we are more sensitive to nuance of things to a degree that may be almost statistically irrelevant. Perhaps the degree to which our brain adjusts and adapts itself to our senses is more pronounced than we would generally like to admit.

Either way - there it is. It breaks us in, or we break it. I personally think it's one of us humans' better traits -the whole damn inconsistancy thing. What else would keep us thinking?

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#15992 - 07/24/03 09:57 AM Re: An argument for component break in
cblake Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/21/03
Posts: 80
Loc: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Good post by nowave. There is absolutely a lot of perception of break-in, as admitted by Sushi. Hence my comment that almost everyone who hears break-in hears a similar set of effects: relaxing treble, maybe extended bass response. This is not a coincidence, nor would I chalk it ALL up to the power of suggestion, advertising, or exaggeration.

Chess, you said that Alan had controlled experiments which led to "empirical proof based on the science, not conjecture. It has been tested. It has been proved." First of all, Alan did not test for break-in, as I understand it. That was not his goal or design. Alan has compared many loudspeakers using controlled experiments, and he simply commented that his results did not indicate changing loudspeaker characteristics. As I said, these tests spanned hundreds of hours, which would mean that the vast majority of the tests were performed on broken-in speakers. Did he specifically examine the first few tests performed, and compare them to much later results? I don't know.

In any case, it's impossible to definitively prove that NO break-in ever occurs. It's infinitely easier to prove individual speakers DO exhibit break-in, at least subjectively, and maybe to a lesser degree, quantitatively. And while the Axiom crew has taken measurements to test for break-in, this does not magically overturn decades of empirical evidence for all other speakers and listeners. Not to mention the fact that some speaker companies probably explicitly engineer for it. So the true burden of proof is MUCH heavier on the skeptic's side, though I have no problem if you say "I never heard break-in on my speakers." Just allow me the contrary privilege.

Biwiring? Never heard it. I really have no idea, and in Stereophile I don't think they claim it's any silver bullet. Expensive cables? Better materials and construction often do sound better, but there are diminishing returns, as with anything in audio. I think you just have to keep your expenditures proportionate: cabling should be somewhere around 10% the system cost. Biamping is great, but expensive. Just as having extra power in your amp helps the dynamics, having a separate amp for tweeter, midrange, etc. will also make it easier to drive.

Sushi: how do you meausure the eneven performance of a tweeter when given a large burst of power, as opposed to a steady tone? The driver motion is so miniscule that I absolutely think there's room for things we don't yet know how to measure.

-Cooper

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#15993 - 07/24/03 12:31 PM Re: An argument for component break in
sushi Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 1490
Loc: Dallas, TX
In reply to:

Sushi: how do you measure the eneven performance of a tweeter when given a large burst of power, as opposed to a steady tone? The driver motion is so miniscule that I absolutely think there's room for things we don't yet know how to measure.



A tweeter or woofer doesn't matter. The driver's swing, how small it may be, doesn't matter either -- it is easy to measure them mechanically, either indirectly or directly by today's techniques. If the use-dependent permanent change in the driver indeed exists, it should be measurable mechanically at the driver level -- again, these are simple things including the resonance frequencies, mechanical and electrical Q's, and the mechanical compliance. The difficulty arises when trying to "completely" measure all the potentially audible changes by ACOUSTIC measurements. But, as I said, in the particular context of speaker break-in, the permanent physical change, if it actually exists, should be detectable by MECHANICAL measurements of individual drivers.

Incidentally, I should also point out here that today's "routine" acoustic measurement techniques (such as MLSSA), do not even use steady-state test tones. The results are all time-resolved, and in many cases, spatially-resolved. In fact, my understanding is that today's bottleneck is the methods for interpreting the wealth of time- and spatial-domain data to accurately correlate them with listening tests, rather than the availability of measurement data themselves. The good & ol' days of the steady-state frequency responses and distortion measurements were long gone. I still do not think they can measure and interpret EVERY audible differences. But let us not underestimate the power of today's acoustic measurement techniques.

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#15994 - 07/24/03 02:04 PM Re: An argument for component break in
Semi_On Offline
aficionado

Registered: 09/18/02
Posts: 737
Loc: Scottsdale, Arizona
nowave,

It's not as different from the wiring issue as you suggest. In the case of the wiring issue, those that claim better wiring result in better sound honestly believe they hear a difference, just as those that buy the break-in idea do. They are hearing a difference that isn't present. A lot of both situations probably results from the same thing: they expect a difference. When you actually remove any knowledge of whether or not speakers have been broken in, or what wires are used, in both cases under scientific scrutiny, no one can perceive a difference.

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