Maggies take several months to break in
28 responses Add your response
Norton - with Magnepans at least you can take a Radio Shack SPL meter and measure the falloff at a certain level of input in bass, and 3 months later the response curve is different. I don't know as much about cone speakers and personal experience with breakin but I can say scientifically that the Maggie 3.6s sound *very* different on 1st day and 3 months later. And, as I said, I can verify this with instruments and graphs.
Speaker break in will be the same because what is being broken in is the listener not the speaker. Neither the transducers nor, in particular, the crossover components should change after the first 2 seconds of use, unless they have been just taken out of a freezing semi - and even then once they come up to room temperature there should not be any further changes. I suspect that the idea of break in arose from vendors who displayed speakers in an acoustically well designed room and driven by high end amplifiers, likely playing music selected by the sale staff. When the person gets them home into a different acoustic environment with a lower grad amp and music not optimized for display purposes, he or she is disapointed - hence - the break in theory proffered by the sellers. It works because after a while a lot of people will get used to the sound, associate it with leisure time etc and believe that their speakers have indeed broken in. What makes people willing to do this - most people don't like to think they got a bad deal or did not get what they thought they were getting. Fortunately, there are very good respectable companies making very good products - so you will probably be very happy right off the bat.
It's a shame that the information Musicnoise typed out gets run at Audiogon. Invariably there will be newbees that believe what he said and possibly sell a good pair of speakers before ever knowing what they really sound like.
Lightminer is correct:
with Magnepans at least you can take a Radio Shack SPL meter and measure the falloff at a certain level of input in bass, and 3 months later the response curve is different. I don't know as much about cone speakers and personal experience with breakin but I can say scientifically that the Maggie 3.6s sound *very* different on 1st day and 3 months later. And, as I said, I can verify this with instruments and graphs.
Both scientifically and by common sense and old fashioned listening to music.
Albert...I must respectfully disagree that we should not be allowed to see the opinion of Musicnoise. I would tend to side with you in this debate, but let's not get carried away. I have found myself on several extended business trips "getting used to" the horrible sound of my laptop. There is something to be said for our ability to adjust, and cope with, less than ideal sound.
Sure, we can all learn to cope but that is very different than spreading information as truth that is not.
There is not nearly the network of dealers and support as when I first got into this business and lots of people use the internet for all their information. When information such as "speakers don't really break in" gets taken as fact, then someone can get burned.
Frankly I wish it were simple, just plug and play and all is well. The truth is, break in a fact of life and applies to everything from CRT monitors to disc brake pads, auto engines, Teflon wire, audio capacitors, speaker surrounds and even phono cartridges.
It's not voodoo and should not be hard to understand, if you stop to think about the mechanics involved.
Wow, musicnoise needs to reinvent his name, it should say Iamjustnoise :)
While I understamd we become acclimated to gear we get to know anyone who truely thinks any speaker is warmed up after 2 seconds has no business giving advice, let me guess he also thinks all amps sound the same, no cables make any difference and a CD player is a CD player.
While I am not trying to start a big fight I also do not welcome the idea that break in doesnt happen, I am simply wondering if a speaker made of different material would take less time to optimize and I still have no clear answer but that in itself appears to answer my question.
I've had 2 pair of Maggies.
Original MG-1s rebuilt at the 20 year old mark were
very different upon return and needed months at my modest listening schedule to return to 'normal'.
There replacement, some 1.6s were weird! I was sitting listening after original install and the stereo image wavered from left to right and back again, several times fairly quickly. I was absolutely SOBER, too, so don't even say it!
They settled in fairly quickly and never repeated the image thing.
I, too, would have been a little leary of speaker break in but am now a believer. I think speakers break in quickly for the first say.....8 or 10 hours.
From my experience with MG 1.6's I would definitely agree that there is speaker break-in with Maggies. It was less noticeable on the little Castle towers I use in the upstairs living room so I can't say if it was quicker.
Cone speakers have the surround in front and the spider in the back that locates the piston. I understand (feel free to correct me) that the spiders in quality cone speakers are very substantial and really need some serious break-in.
For the sake of argument consider how Magnepan planar panels are made. Mylar stretched to a certain tension and glued to a support frame that floats inside the larger baffle (only horizontal staples to keep the frame located). The mylar is sprayed (everywhere) with 3M spray adhesive and copper and aluminum wires/foil held in place then sealed with another bead of glue. Buttons are pushed through the mylar and anchored in the magnet plate to tune the resonant frequency of each panel.
You have the mylar stretching (to a certain extent) changing the initial tension. The 3M base coat is flexing and settling. The wires are flexing and settling, as is the second bead of glue directly over the wire. The mylar around the tensioning buttons is shifting in place until it settles. The mylar support frames/magnet assembly is shifting in the outer baffle as it settles from being shipped prone to standing upright. Add to that a coat of matt black around the perimeter of the mylar frame and supposedly Magnepan is now using a coating of some sort over the whole panel to protect from UV and moisture.
Yeh, kinda' makes sense there may be a mechanical system based break-in, doesn't it?
I design loudspeakers. I find most every type of driver needs break in, some more than others, capacitors also need break in. True ribbons need little break in. Thus I run in loudspeakers so customers dont hear this break in. I would think the folks saying no break in needed dont feel the same about shoes- cars etc. Drivers + loudspeakers do have moving parts to break in heat friction and current changes other parts to some degree;) drivers dont always have the same performance as new they wear like everything. So drivers + loudspeakers are always in a state of change. The good ones just do it slower.
It is possible that you and Musicnoise buy your speakers from a builder/manufacturer like Johnk who puts hours of run in on their speakers before selling. Truly great high end service!
I have to shop at the value end of the scale where Maggies perform very well vs. cost although it takes a little time from new (maybe 100 hours) for them to come into their own.
Perhaps it depends on the design. An Electrostatic with high step up transformers + high voltage capacitors is more likely to change over time than a sealed box speaker with a compliant woofer. In the case of a sealed box speaker single woofer the air suspension and driver back emf will probably dominate after five minutes of break in (five minutes loud is probably enough to make the surround and spider compliant). An array speaker with 8 cones that barely move might also be a different matter - it is conceivable that some drivers may not break in as quickly as others - leading to a long break in time. Designs with weak motors and light weight cones in an under damped box where mechanical suspension dominates may change response every time you play them as the surround is known to become stiff after a day without uses and takes a few seconds to become compliant.
So I guess it "depends" - it is certainly possible to design speakers that will not need breaking in after a mere few minutes or that will not change with age. The trick is to make the mechanical compliance a very small factor compared to everything else that it becomes irrelevant. This suggests a design with big motor and beefy amplifiers that control excursion and an acoustic damped suspension will need less break-in or next to no break-in, IMHO.
Norton, Before buying my 1.6 Maggies, I'd have had a similar opinion to yours. After listening to my new panels have the stereo image go right/left left/right fairly rapidly, within an hour of firing them up, I was changed. The 'forming' of capacitors and slight settling of the mylar is a reasonable suggestion. It has NOT happened again. The amp used, a Rotel RB-1070 had several hundred hours on it so was reasonably well conditioned.
I hadn't had a DROP to drink, and imbibed no mind altering substances. This was a stone-cold, out of the blue effect and very unexpected.
I have no difficulty believing Magfan's experience. But that is not what is generally referred to as speaker break in. The switching of stereo image rapidly back and forth sounds more like an impedance problem likely to a connection. Also likely is that with a little heat, the connection was made. My guess is that this occurence was dramatic, could not be missed by anyone in the room, and was initially viewed as a defect in the workmanship or the parts. Speaker break in is generally not spoken of in quite those terms, but more as a gradual shift that is not noticeable over short time periods, say 15 minute intervals. I also don't doubt that there are changes to all components over time. Otherwise nothing would wear out and all systems would last forever. Those changes are certainly measureable because we have instruments that are very sensitive and offer high repeatability and resolution - take as standard 4 terminal ohmmeter that can accurately measure a few milliohms. Whether those changes are of a magnitude that can be heard is another story. More importantly, what should be sought in any component is stability, the problem I see with a component that would exhibit changes over a period of 40 to 200 hours of use is that it follows that the changes would continue, and a continuing change that is noticeable in 40 to 200 hours of use is a change at a rapid pace. This would likely hurt sales so much that the component would not be on the market very long. Certainly mechanical systems with a good deal of motion and friction show considerable changes, particularly early on. But speakers, of whatever technology, are not in that class of mechanical systems.
I'm going to really stir the pot with this post.
My Dali Megalines required 450 to 600 hours before they performed to their maximum. The bass was non existent until after 300 hours and deep bass not until nearly 600.
A good friend and member of my audio group experienced similar frustration with his Kharma Exquisite 1De. He waited beyond 650 hours before his speakers produced best performance.
In both cases, I have ten or so associates that heard the long progress and final results. Believe it or not, it's absolutely true.
Maybe it's the ceramic drivers in the Kharma, maybe the 24 woofers in my Dali's move so little that break in is tardy in arriving. Whatever the reason, it's audible and frustrating to wait through.
My new tube crossover made a break through in performance this last Tuesday evening. Burn in was 605 hours at the end of the evening and a huge change from the week before when there was only 437 hours on the parts.
In the case of the crossover I know the slow break in is due to Teflon Caps, 14 in the main unit and more in the power supply. I called the manufacturer who designed and built the caps (the same guy that builds Cardas, V-Cap, DynamiCap and most of the other big names).
He was not surprised, said it would continue to about 1000 hours or beyond, same answer I got from several other engineers in the business.
My previous custom crossover was identical in design, hand built by the same guy and was working well at 50 hours, reaching maximum performance at about 350 hours.
The difference? It had traditional caps from Wima, F-Dyne and Illinois capacitor and half the chokes and power supply. Everything makes a difference when all the parts are pushed to the limit.
When capacitors and other components drift with age and temperature over long periods then I am not sure when this becomes "aging" as distinct from "break-in".
Again, careful component selection and design can minimize the audibility of these effects. A capacitor that runs very hot or that is placed next to a resistor that runs hot will age more quickly and should not be placed in the signal path. (It might be ok in a power supply for example)