Burning in your Headphones - Myth, Magic or Fact?

By Kartikeya Rokde Sep 02, 2020

If you haven’t heard of the concept of “burning-in earphones”, odds are that you’ve imagined your earphones up in flames! For starters, that sounds crude, that’s not what we are getting at here. Getting to the point, burning-in your headphones is a technique that audiophiles strongly believe in.

The concept of headphone burn-in is pretty similar to that of caring for a car engine. Drawing in from that anecdote, when your car has been switched off for a long time, you switch it on and let it run for a few minutes before taking it out for that spin!

Audiophiles firmly believe that a new pair of headphones, when left to play several hours of pink noise, produces better sound than a fresh-out-of-the box-pair. 

What Really Does Earphone Burn-in Do?

Let’s break the science behind burning-in earphones for better sound.  Your headphones have a number of parts. The component that converts electrical signals to sound waves is known as the diaphragm. It is believed that in new headphones, the diaphragm is rigid and that it does not compress and ratify the air the way it should. Playing a certain number of hours of music, it is believed, gives the rigid diaphragm the exercise it needs to create high-quality sound. Simply put, then, the run-in or burn-in, if you prefer, ensures that the headphone parts reach the optimal movement that aids good sound output. 

What Kind of Music Should be Played and for How Long?

It’s believed that playing static or pink noise through new headphones at the stretch brings in great results. You could also choose a variety of music combining different genres. Ensure that it has a range of frequencies- bass, mids and highs!

If you feel you do not have the time to create a long track, you could also use a burn-in app which would have pre-recorded sounds at the right frequencies, for your convenience.

As for how long this should be played, the jury is still out on it. Perhaps it is on account of the fact that the “ best” sound output is a fairly relative term. Odds are that if you speak to audiophiles, the amount of time suggested to play pink noise would range from 4 to 400 hours! 

Burn-In earphone

Audiophiles firmly believe that burning in a headphone helps it produce better sound

How to Burn-in Headphones Properly?

Well, all you need to do is to simply connect your headphones to an audio source and let the music play. Remember to hang the headphones somewhere so they do not fall or that you aren’t inconvenienced. As for how long, that is purely your choice. The general average, however, is 10 hours. 

Pro-tip- Do not wear the headphones while the burn-in process is on. There is no way you would want to listen to hours of pink or white noise. 

Is Burn-in, Magic or Logic?

Some experts believe that headphones sounds do tend to mature over a period of time and that burn-in could, therefore, be an advantage! The audiophile community firmly believes that burn-in improves audio output. However, since one’s idea of “good” sound is relative, it is hard to corroborate this. The best way forward is definitely to check for yourself. Simply listen to your headphones before you burn it and after. There you are, you can answer the question yourself!

Whether the difference is slight or significant, is for you to tell. Either way, it costs you nothing, just a few hours of being away from your favourite headphone!

So while there is no mandatory burn-in earphone time recommended, go ahead and get to know them better!

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