The myth of burning in?

The manufacturer of my new speakers says they should be played for 50 hours to sound at their best. Others have suggested up to 200 hours. Furthermore my speaker cable supposedly need 100 hours.
It seems no piece of equipment can perform optimally out the box. I’m playing the game but I will eat my hat with ketchup and fries if they sound different 1 month from now. Any other cynics or dinosaurs out there.

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And how do you know that if there is a perceived difference, is it more down to getting used to the whole set-up, rather than improved quality. So you will never really know :crazy_face:


My view is that speakers do improve with time.
I’m sceptical about other hifi components.


I recommend Sainsbury’s Ketchup after the speakers bedding in period.
You might need to take a pick of salt with the cable tho’ … :wink:


I was skeptical but am pretty sure my NAP 300 DR changed considerably in the first month or two. And it did not only get better, but occasionally got worse for a time, one time I thought something was seriously wrong and had to check all cables etc.

It’s difficult to say because of course there are other factors from mood to pressure changes in the ear canal to random mains quality changes. When equipment is not new, one might default to attributing perceived changes to these factors, and when it is new, one might be attributing them to run-in changes. Who knows.

But subjectively my impression is that it did improve, and Naim, who have listened to thousands of units, believe so as well. If there is nothing to it, it would take quite some delusion on Naim’s part to convince themselves that they should put the bit about the run-in into every manual.

It also seems reasonable that new analog electronic components may initially take some time to settle into their designed operational parameters, where they then stay for the next decade, until they don’t and it is service time.

I am now “running in” a new 252/SC and a pre-loved NDX2/555 that were off for several months. As the whole question is an interesting one I can’t help but listen for it, and without taking notes during a blind test I am doubting that I can correctly attribute the perceived differences.


This thread may eventually need pictures!!



Took me a while to get that :joy:

As someone with less than good hearing, only brought to tolerable levels by hearing aids in both ears, I have always felt deferential towards opinions expressed in this community by people with far better hearing than me. But…

I purchased a pair of PMC TwentyFive.21 (not ‘improved’) after a dealer demo against a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 100s because the bass was so much more crisp and ‘real’ than the more fuzzy and boomy MAs. Am I doing this right with the usual adjectival adornment?

I was then able to bring home the demo PMCs for a couple of weeks before deciding to buy a pair, which were put into use from late January of this year. I don’t play music for extended periods so could not guess how many hours they have spent in use 10 months down the line.

There was of course a noticeable uplift when I swapped the Unitilite for a NAC272 and NAP250DR, but I am certain from more recent listening sessions that the sound has continued to improve. Obviously can’t attribute this to either the black boxes or the speakers, having changed both. But it’s all very nice to listen to these days and I am content with that.


My speakers sound better now than when fresh out of the box a month ago.
The Gyro SE is better than first set up a few weeks ago.
It may not be burn in, just settle down and work properly. The Ortofon does seem better now than when fresh on the arm.
I don’t mind why, but better is always good.


I purchased my Nova after lockdown 1.0. It was an ex demo although my dealer said it’d only just come out of the box. He’s a top, top chap so believe him 100%.

Compared to my Uniti MK1 it’s astonishingly good and the sort of upgrade that’s made me forget about the money spent. A few months in and I can’t honestly tell if it sounds any better but it’s still blowing me away so difficult to tell.

From previous experience though, I’ve found my ears to be much more variable than anything else. If I’m in the wrong mood, hifi can be almost unlistenable. On other days I can listen for hours.


It’s not a myth but reality. I have experienced burn in with several parts of the chain including my mobile setup.
With my earlier I even experienced a change after months of running in…

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Absolute reality…all electrical components need time to settle down and bed in…in order to perform at their optimum level…

It’s also one of the reasons we leave our systems powered up 24/7…

I can always remember a number of years ago the exact moment my newly purchased 250dr came on song…having had it for about 3 weeks…and checking constantly how it was sounding every evening after getting home from work…I just by chance one evening heard it suddenly open up… it was a moment of joy and relief at the same time…
These black boxes are by no means cheap…but I immediately forgot about the price tag and just enjoyed the moment…

So definitely no myth…


Its a frustrating reality (in reality)…my brand new Nova is now about 30 Hours in and still underperforming the Nova I borrowed for 2 months from the dealer that was a 2018 model. I expect my new Nova to eventually surpass the one I borrowed, but it is a frustrating time. Naim tell me 100 Hrs plus or minus so I have to give it time. Even more frustrating, the day I received my new Nova and turned it on for the first time it sounded better than the well run-in Nova I had borrowed…figure that one out…

I had a similar experience with a XPSdr a few years back… the dealer demo model sounded superb

My new out of the box model took about 8/9 weeks to settle down…generally sounding extremely poor and occasionally sounding good…

it’s an extremely frustrating time…patience is required unfortunately

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I’ll (just) buy the idea for components with a mechanical aspect like speakers and cartridges, and maybe even tubes; but for cables and solid-state stuff? No.

Did you get there in the end?

My Memera CU and 10mm2 dedicated mains definitely went through a burn-in cycle 20 years ago…

Yes…eventually came on song…but the XPSdr was by far the box that took the longest to settle down

Mechanical things with compliance - speaker driver cone suspension is a good example - can certainly change with use, in particular repeated flexing of the material, the change in compliance reducing after sufficient flexing, effectively becoming a bit ‘looser’ than when brand new. Cartridge suspension I guess similar.

Some electronic components can similarly change through the application of heat - heat coming from use - so may change through the first hours of use, while the electrical characteristiscs of many components changes with temperature, so a warm unit can sound slightly different from cold. Electrolytic capacitors may change their behaviour between in-use and not, tgrough effects of charge on the electrolyte. But with these changes won’t be “up and down”, with component values sometimes going one way sometimes the other.

As for cables, cryogenically treated cables might gradually revert over time, otherwise few cables carry enough current to cause any significant change in temperature- especially low level signal cables and ethernet cables. It is interesting how change is invariably perceived as improvement. Also, whilst “burnt in” cables can easily be directly compared with new cables by simply borrowing or taking another pair on sale or return, and of course blind to avoid bias, I have only come across one instance on this forum where someone claimed to have done that, though they never came back with details. “Burn in” is more commonly stated purely as perceived change over a long time with no objective reference.

Against that, ears are not constant in their response, and can change from day to day and even hour by hour (for a dramatic example, when you feel a bit “bunged up”, put some music on then clear your eustachian tubes by yawning or blowing your nose). Meanwhile your brain readily adjusts to a new norm, so gets used to a new sound, so where initially it might be a bit of a jolt compared to something you are used to, that soon can change. And of course there are other psychological effects that can convince people of anything unless controls are in place to minimise them.

So in essence, anyone can hear anything, but in my view genuine burn-in is likely to be rather more limited that often ascribed as a reason for people hearing a difference.


Biggy in electronics is the electrolytic caps. Don’t know what is going on inside them, but they do Need a week or two at least to settle.
Loudspeakers are clearly mechanical, and will need time to free up, such that any stiction is removed.
And of course you just get used to stuff.