How to "break-in" new speakers??

A number of posts regarding the so-called "break-in-time" (or is it "burn-in-time) for new speakers have muddied the waters for me. If I recall correctly, some posts recommend that new speaker "break-in" could run anywhere from several hours to 175 hours, or more (good grief!), depending on the speaker manufacturer and model/type in question. In my case they would be the Rega RS-1 bookshelves. On other posts I have read that burning-in is a red-herring and should be ignored. I have also read that a proper burn-in should be done at a high volume, but not so high as to damage the speakers (an unnecessary caution), while simultaneously running the speakers non-stop for the necessary burn-in period. I find myself especially resistant to the last half of these recommendations, if only because I would like to think it possible to get a good nights sleep while simultaneously doing right by my speakers. I can only hope that however many responses I receive will not further muddy the already dark waters.

Why just not start to listen to music and enjoy, they will get a little better with time - but its not like any speaker is un-listenable when new.


Play your favorite music and just enjoy the process.

It may take several days for them to loosen up especially the woofer which I would run at 95db or better if possible with some great bass inclusive music. Throw a few blankets over them if you have to.

You may want to have them face each other about 2 feet apart and wire one out of phase. This will cause the signal to be cancelled and let them run that way with the source on repeat.

If they sound good out of the gate it will only get better and why wait to listen??
With my Focals I noticed the tweeter was a bit harsh right out of the box and sounded better within a couple of weeks of listening. The bass extension improved over a period of months, but I'd just suggest leaving the system running at a moderate volume when you're gone during the day. You can choose music that has highs and lows to physically work the drivers. With speakers it's a mostly about the material in the drivers getting some work. If you're worried about them not sounding great now and therefore want to break them in you'll never like them. Also, I don't think any particular break in is required to avoid damage.
some people obsess about this stuff too much

just listen and enjoy
Put your speaker about 2 feet or less apart and facing each other, on one speaker only put the red to the black connector and the red to the black connector. put on cd to repeat. Set the volume at about 11:00, they will cancel each other out and the sound will be minimum. Do this each day as you go to work for about a week.
It's not a destination, enjoy the journey.
Do you have run them non-stop? Only if you are impatient like me ;) The distributor told me that. My Dyn C1 sounded great out of the box but between 100 - 200 hrs they sounded horrible. Honky - dull even a little smeared. That lasted for about 50 hrs before they started to come back (I wasn't happy with the finish on my first pair and by the time they were broken in my replacement arrived - Now to do it all over again). When I upgraded to the C1 signatures I switched to my son's system (not as resolving) so I didn't really hear that 'horrible' time.

That being said I haven't heard of any other speaker manufacturer that goes through that. The Originals really took between 350 - 400 hrs to finally sound great. The distributor also mentioned the C1's take the longest of the entire line up. As for the signature/MKII I e-mailed a couple of other owners and they said at about 25 hrs they went downhill and about 50 hrs they were great.

That is my experience with new C1 speakers.
Hevac 1 has the best answer. And anyone who says speakers don't become "unlistenable" during the break-in period has never heard Gallo Reference 3 and 3.1s after about 6 hours. If I hadn't known (from a friend) what to expect, I would have been convinced mine were defective.
I too have purchased new speakers (Paradigms) and thought they were defective during the first listen.
That being said, I agree with Philjolet's comment, "just listen and enjoy." You can learn a lot about your speakers during this process.
Just play um. Linn Katans take up to 600 hours to break in. I have Lipinski 707's that only take 24 hours. Why rip them with pink noise for 24 hours or run out of phase/ just let them play. Happy listening.
Its not rocket science.
As others said, just listen.

However, when I leave the house for a couple hours, I'll put a cd on "repeat" and turn the volume up much louder than my ordinary listening level. Only with solid state amps; I do not leave tube power amps unattended.
Like most folks said, just enjoy your speakers. The more you use them, the better they will sound. Don't lose any sleep over this. If you feel you need to do something more, by all means do it.
I do believe that there is a break-in for new speakers and sound will improve as you get more hours on them. If it is fairly convenient, play your speakers at a fairly moderate level when you are not actively listening that will of course speed up the process.
Do what Havac1 says.
What Havac1 said just adds a lot of work moving speakers that's not necessary. Speakers don't need to be loud to break in. Even if you never intentionally did a break in they would eventually end up at the same place.
I'm not one for setting the speakers facing each other. The speakers magnets if too close, could cause their magnets to loose their strength.

Just listen and enjoy. I never had a new product (that I kept) I didn't enjoy while breaking in. If they sounded that bad, they still were too bad to keep.
ditto to what everyone else said - listen and enjoy, but I would NOT try to drive them hard initially (ie within the 1st 100 hrs)
If you are the coordinated type (as in being able to chew gum and walk at the same time) just break-in while listening.
Wait,... I suppose that would be doing only be one thing at a time. Ok, listen while chewing gum.
Pardon my grammar.
>>12-03-11: Mceljo
Speakers don't need to be loud to break in<<


Speakers do in fact need elevated SPL to break in properly. The cones are quite stiff initially and the higher SPL helps their flexibility.

As a matter of fact Zu Audio recommends specifically what I am posting.

Hope that helps you understand better.

The first time I listened to C-1's I thought they were horrible. A guy was selling a pair on Audiogon and he brought them over for me to audition. He told me they only had 50 hours and needed to be broken in. I didn't believe the guy and I passed on the C-1's. 3 months later I heard them at a dealer and thought they were fantastic. I recently bought a pair off Audiogon and I'm really enjoying them.
I never bought new speakers so can't know how it works in different cases. From what I read it might take a few hundred hours for them to reach full potential. I would play them at mostly moderate level during the break-in time.
Mirage also warns against playing new speakers loudly until they've completed the break-in period of around 100 hours. 100 hours is 2/3 of a week at 24 hours/day. If you listen 2 hours a day it would take almost 2 months to complete initial break-in. Some brands (e.g., Totem) specify a break-in period more like 500 hours. That's three solid weeks of 24/7 or 8 months at 2 hours/day.

I put on FM radio or iPod running at low volume 24/7, and turn it up to moderate levels for listening. Breaking in my subwoofers was less intrusive because I turned off signal to the mains. The subs breaking in sounded like somebody was having a not-too-loud party two floors down.
the excessive 'break in' times are recommended, so that if the speakers sound like crap, after 500 hours they will still sound like crap, but you will be used to them and think they sound good. (The brain will do that) At the prices some of these people charge, they had better put a smile on my face at first listen. Unless of course, you are allowed a 'break in' time to pay for them.
1. connect
2. turn on
3. enjoy
4. play at low levels for first hour. this allows crossover caps to form.
5. turn 'em up louder than you normally listen for about a minute, after 10 to 20 hours of listening.
suppose a dealer played a pair of new speakers for several hundred hours, then put them back in the boxes and sold them without mentioning that they had been played for hundreds of hours. How many people would get them home and say, wow, they are already broken in? How many would say, they sounded better after I played them a few hundred hours? Answer this, and you have your answer to speaker break in.
let's conject an opposite scenario. A dealer sells a pair of speakers which were never opened. Tho, before the sale closes, he pitches' " we never sell a wine... uhm...speaker before it's time. We painstakingly brake these in with the utmost diligence, the finest gear and the cleanest electricity available, sure it takes time, of course that adds to the cost, but hey, YOU,!.. deserve the finest! I wanna buy from that guy!!!!!!
I've always imagined the "cones and domes" being similar to a new baseball glove: Works right away, better after time. Drivers move back and forth from as little as 20 times a second to over 20,000 tas. The more flexible the surrounds are the truer it can analog the sound. Plus, the caps in the x/o can use a few hours.

I am not a fan of 24/7/?. Let them cool down then heat em up again. I like cycling during break in. Might take longer but I think you get a better product at the end.

Enjoy the ride.
When I was visiting the store that I purchased my speakers on a more regular basis I could always tell when I was listening to a fresh out of the box demo pair of Focal Chorus speakers. They have a slightly harsh sound to me to the point that I prefer the sound with the grill covers on. It took many months before removing my grill covers was the preferred sound but it's by far the best sound now.

They recommened just leaving them running during the day at low to moderate volumes to allow the drivers to loosen up. They also suggested using an open radio station as white noise is the best to use because it has a full spectrum of sound.

I won't say that the speakers have ever sounded good vs. bad, but after some break in they do sound better. The store always offered to send the demo speakers home if you preferred to have ones that had some time on them or you could have a new pair from the stock. I ordered a color that they didn't have on demo or in stock so it wasn't an option for me.

When they bring in the new Focal Diablo speakers they almost always set them up near the front desk and just use them for their general listening to break them in.
all of this falls under the heading of:
Things that sound like they should be true. Tubes have to warm up, turntable motors have to stabilize, engine oil used to have to heat up etc..... But since wire has to be broken in, according to the true believers, I guess this is not so absurd as it first seems..
For the record, I am not advocating paint peeling SPL for break in, only a moderately (above average listening) level.

I'm just saying....
Patience is a is extremely important and critical to burn in a good quality speaker for 100 hours at low volume for the following reason. A woofer and midrange driver have a moving piston that moves frontwards and backwards constantly, which is visible to the eye observing the acoustic suspension surround ring moving in and out. The drive piston is stiff in a new speaker and needs time to loosen up. If you play the speaker at high volume right out of the box, you stand the risk of damaging the piston alignment permanently resulting in a uneven, slightly crooked piston motion that will effect the sound quality of the woofer and mid-range driver.
Low volume is not necessary.

Moderate SPL is fine and this is what manufacturers recommend. Once again elevated SPL, so long as you are not peeling paint, is quite safe.

Ignore the amateurs.
'Ignore the amateurs.'

I thought we were all amateurs. Are you a Professional Audiophile?
I did install new Lowther drivers (DX4) and just played them at normal levels with my regular musical picks. I know someone whom breaks in speakers from new with 400-500 hrs of straight Clapton! That works just as well.
>>12-08-11: Rok2id
Are you a Professional Audiophile?<<

It's all relative Soupy.

Been doing it a long time.
'Been doing it a long time.'

Well you certainly 'SPEAK' with authority. I always read your posts.
I bought a pair of rs5 last september. Fantastic speaker. This is the best compromise I ever got in my house.
Best way to break them in is to play at low to moderate level all sources -movies & music for the first 50 hours and gradually increase the volume for short period of times let's say 20 minutes. They get better after 150-200 hours of play (bass gets a bit deeper and treble gets a bit smoother).
All of this becomes confusing when one considers that one of the golden rules of audio is to 'listen before you buy'. Well, if it can take almost 2 months of listening before you discover how speakers, and other components really sound, shouldn't the dealer break all this stuff in, before offering for sale. This also applies to all other components including wire. I ask your forgiveness and forbearance in advance for using LOGIC.
You are on to something for sure. When I talk to transducer designers, they thing this "break in" thing is lunacy, particularly with cone drivers. "If a driver changes after X hours it will continue to change-what is to stop it? The physics of it don't support changes that progress to a point and then stop when it sounds best".

Yet some of customers do report improvements, particularly in low end, after time.

Now ferro fluid tweeters, different story. They DO change and do need periodic replacement. We use Audax high power tweeters in our large in soffit mounted studio speakers, and they do need replacement after a year.

Break-in time is a myth.
For speakers mostly.
Why should a speaker need time to work properly? The suspension of the drivers (mostly rubber or plastic) does not change its stiffness in a few days or weeks time. And after that time what? It stops changing? Why? How?
That would be the designers nightmare.
Only a difference in temperature alters temporarily the characteristics of the suspension. Blow your woofers with a hair dryer for a few moments and until they reach again the normal temperature your speakers will play louder dew to the softer suspension!
Perhaps when many years pass, some materials may lose the proper elasticity and the speaker performs out of speks. Materials degrade as they get old, they dont perform better.
Our brain needs a few hours time to adjust to the new sounds, not the speaker. When this happens, we think the new speakers are now o.k.!!!
Maybe brak-in time had a meaning in tape recorders of any kind in the old days (mechanical construction, proper speed, wow, flutter, not just circuits). Elecrical circuits also get old with time. Every time we power them up, they stabilize in a few moments (or minutes if there are tubes in) and that is all.
Enjoy your music!
Actually, dealers "break-in" speakers and electronics before auditions.
Yes, speakers do continuously change. The largest changes (and the most noticeable) happen during the first hours of use. Like any other electronic or and mechanical device.
Just play them, and enjoy your music. In all of my years of listening to stuff, I have NEVER heard a significant change as a consequence of break-in. I once ran some speakers loud for a weekend (Vandersteen @Cis), came home and found that they sounded the same as when I left, and my house wasn't burned down by my neighbors.

They were a great speaker when they were new, and remained great for my time with them. Now I don't know if "break in" is a myth, or if we simply get accustomed to the sound of things, and don't notice the subtle changes that occur as a product beds in.

Either way, I wouldn't worry about it. Just know that if you don't like something, you aren't going to magically like it after it "breaks in."
I did hear a difference in my Maggie 1.6 as they broke in, they became smoother in the high end and the bass became looser and more natural (after a few months) but I think it is the nature of the planar design where the mylar needed to stretch a bit.
This argument that seems accepted to the point of "of course its this way-where you been?" has little or no support in the high end pro community of mixers, mastering engineers and others who listen for a living. I would be horrified if a customer who just installed a $40,000 pr of monitors called me to say they sound WAY different after a week of use. I would also be horrified if I sent a replacement woofer for a blown one and after the swap, George Massenburg told me "they sound different and I can't work on these for the next 500 hours" . Or a year later, "the Left woofer sounds different from the right" (because the left one is older than the right). George can hear a 1/4dB difference in EQ at 2K, he can hear compression artifacts I cannot hear, and he has never said such a thing to me. So for a pro, this is tough one to buy in to.

What DOES happen is changes in your ears day to day. Weather, humidity, your health, how tired you are, can play a huge role in sound "quality" (i.e. your personal perception of sound ). Also, your attitude makes a huge difference. If you want to hear a difference, you will. This is demonstrable. And Temperature of the drive unit DOES make a difference, especially when you are the edge of power compression, a result of heat inside the coil. So could the difference be that the speakers sound better after being on for an hour and heated up? This could 100% be true. It would also be true then that the speakers sound worse after being driven too hard (too hot) and you have to let the spear cool down for it to return to normal (I HAVE heard this many times). But was time the factor-no, it was heat.

The idea of speakers loosening up doesn't seem to have the same level of scientific support that other issues that are based in science and really do affect perceived performance. I wonder if other reall issues are being attributed to break in time?

I just purchased new speakers and I can't wait to turn them up and see what they can do.
If I do this too soon can I actually damage the speakers?
Sonus Faber Cremona M Towers
USE A MONO CD if you are going to wire speakers out of phase and have them face each other as suggested above-You need exact same signal going to both speakers if you want as much noise cancellation as posible
When I purchased my first Harley Davidson motor cycle the salesman told me to ride it the first day the way I intended to ride it after break in. I think the same is true with speakers.
The Harley that I rebuilt in '99, still sounds the same as it did then. The two SEAS L26ROY 10's that I installed in my bass system, two weeks ago, do not. The judicious application of a low freq signal, is helping their suspensions, "break in." The music of my bike's pipes IS live. The faster the woofers SOUND live; the happier I will be. Some full-range speaker systems can sound right on the edge of horrific, until their x-over caps form and drivers limber up. Generally speaking; the better the system, the better the caps(Teflon, polypropylene, etc), and the longer the burn-in. Nothing wrong with speeding up the process.