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#59758 - 09/08/04 10:06 AM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
ringmir Offline
aficionado

Registered: 02/03/04
Posts: 619
Loc: boston
Wooden instruments like violins, guitars, etc certainly change in tone as the wood ages and dries. As the wood ages the internal damping diminishes, which allows more strongly peaked resonances. The thing is, this is all irrelevant when considering speaker "break-in" as people generally discuss it. People will leave the speaker playing at a high volume for 500 hours, and then hear a difference in the sound. They're not talking about the quality of the wood changing substantially in what really amounts to ~20 days. That type of chance occurs with years and years of time, and I doubt it would change significantly in MDF.

I think the only way I could be led to believe in speaker break-in is if someone did some objective analysis of speaker excursion in a controlled environment and showed that after extended play the surround element "softened" significantly enough to create an audible difference.

That said, I haven't heard any difference in my system over the time I've had it.
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[black]-"The further we go and older we grow, the more we know, the less we show."[/black]

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#59759 - 09/08/04 10:22 AM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
dmn23 Offline
aficionado

Registered: 02/01/03
Posts: 649
Loc: Nashville, TN
I figured as much. It kind of seemed like an apples/lawnmowers comparison, particularly since I was thinking of acoustic instruments. The best sounding acoustic instruments are generally the most fragile. The whole point is to move air. Also, as I mentioned in my post, it's taken years for a noticable change in the guitars I've owned.

Big slabs of wood aren't immune from this, though. There are perceptible differences in the tonality of solid body electric guitars. Here's an interesting overview of wood tonality if anyone would like to check it out.
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M22ti mains, EP175 sub, VP150 center, QS4 surrounds

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#59760 - 09/08/04 02:49 PM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8294
Loc: Tacoma
I think you've got something there, SpockT!

The discussion has mostly centered around mechanical break-in, but I rather like your observation about humidity. Even though the aluminum in the cones would be unaffected by changes in humidity, the entire speaker system (including all of its components made of other materials) could, conceivably, maybe be impacted by acclimating to the temperature and humidity of a new environment. Whether it's enough to hear or not, I don't know or care. But I had not considered the impact of temperature and humidity. Of course, if those are the agents of change, then "break in" of the speaker (rather than your ears) could be accomplished without playing music; just let the things sit and get used to their new space.
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#59761 - 09/08/04 03:02 PM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16289
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
I agree with the apples/lawnmovers analogy. MDF is used BECAUSE it has many advantages over solid wood, chief among them being its material uniformity (no knots or density variations) which contribute to its highly predictable and favorable acoustic properties.

MDF is an amalgam of adhesive resin and wood fibers bound together under intense pressure and heat. Here's a short page about it. It is made from wood, but at the same time, it is NOT wood.
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#59762 - 09/08/04 08:51 PM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
les9596 Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 38
Loc: The beautiful Puget Sound WA U...
I's like to add my 0.02 to this. Not because I know anything, but just because I have 2 cents

Please allow me to assert that speaker drivers are motors by virtue of the fact that they convert electricity into motion. Therefore, they generate heat from friction and will wear. No doubt about it. If you graphed the wear over time, it might not be much, it might not be linear, but it would be there throughout the product life-cycle. To some degree, however minor, everything with moving parts will exhibit "break-in" performance changes. So the argument is never really about speaker break-in. Physics demand that.

The argument is about hearing that break-in performance change.

And when that's the argument, it's no longer a single-body problem (measure the driver and know.) Now it's at least a three body problem: The speaker, the ear (or other measuring device), and the transmission medium (currently air). An answer for one set of variables isn't a universal answer either. Change any of the variables and you're right back where you started. The odds of resolving this in any sense other than statistical just went way downhill.

Fortunatly, I do happen to have the final answer. It's simply that-(insert another .02 to continue, please)



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#59763 - 09/08/04 09:40 PM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
NeverHappy Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/12/03
Posts: 1424
Loc: Western Canada
.02 Deposit has been made, you may continue..........................:-)

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#59764 - 09/09/04 01:19 AM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16289
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
In reply to:

Please allow me to assert that speaker drivers are motors by virtue of the fact that they convert electricity into motion. Therefore, they generate heat from friction and will wear.


I will allow you to make that assertion. Will you now allow me to counter it? (BTW, I've only got 5¢, but you can keep the change. )

Speaker drivers are motors, yes, but the heat produced by their motion comes not from friction (except for miniscule amounts), but from the current flowing through the voice coils. No part of a speaker driver experiences contact friction (i.e. two surfaces sliding against each other). What little friction there is comes from the relative motion of microscopic molecule chains as the cone, surround, and spider flexes.

Try this experiment (only in your head if you want to). Take an average sheet of printer paper. It's pretty flimsy, right? Now grab it lengthwise, keeping it relatively taut. Now flap the sheet of paper up and down rapidly, being careful not to tear it How long do you think it will take until the paper begins to exhibit signs of wear?
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"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#59765 - 09/09/04 02:14 AM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5433
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
>>How long do you think it will take until the paper begins to exhibit signs of wear?

Probably will take a while, although I admit I haven't had the patience to try.

The question is "what happens if you flap a thin sheet of aluminum or titanium the same way" ? Do you get the same change in physical properties, or more, or less ?

As far as I can see the break-in phenomenon / myth seems to be limited to metal drivers.

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#59766 - 09/09/04 04:47 PM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16289
Loc: Leesburg, Virginia
In reply to:

As far as I can see the break-in phenomenon / myth seems to be limited to metal drivers.


This makes absolutely no sense to me at all. The only difference between a metal-coned driver and a non-metal-coned driver is -- you guessed it -- the cone material. If ANY component of a speaker driver experiences break-in, I would think that the cone is the least likely suspect. And it it's a METAL cone to boot, it's more rigid and less susceptible to change over time.
_________________________
"I wish I had documented more…" said nobody on their death bed, ever.

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#59767 - 09/09/04 07:43 PM Re: Breaking in speakers -- is it for real ?
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5433
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
>>If ANY component of a speaker driver experiences break-in, I would think that the cone is the least likely suspect. And it it's a METAL cone to boot, it's more rigid and less susceptible to change over time.

Yeah, I know. That's why we all have trouble believing that break-in really makes a difference, but there do seem to be a bunch of people (including myself now) reporting that the Axioms seem to have a bit of a hard edge when new which mellows after a week or two.

If the people reporting this phenomenon were talking about their second or third pair of speakers it would be easier to write this off as "adapting to the new sound" but we're normally talking about people who have listened to and lived with a dozen or more different speakers and who (should) have a pretty good idea what to expect.

Oh well.


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