Do you think driver “break in” is real?

Do you think “high end” drivers and crossovers typically need a “break in” period before they sound their best?  I ask because, I believe I’ve experienced this first hand in a very significant way. I replaced the tweeters (same exact brand and model as original) in my ACI Sapphire 25 year anniversary edition speakers and for the first week I thought I’d lost my all time favorite speakers. I was depressed!  So I just kept playing them…  finally after a couple weeks, I’m literally stunned and blown away at how incredible these speakers sound. Completely different than the first 30 or 40 hours after I put in the new Scan Speak tweeters. So I say break in period must be real - at least for some drivers. Has anyone else experienced this to a degree that is unmistakeable?  
Crossovers too?  I just rebuilt the crossovers for a pair of ACI Sapphire XL’s (using highest quality components- same values) and so far they sound mediocre. Hoping for the same result as my other Sapphires but after about 20 hours - no noticeable difference - and they do not even sound as good as prior to crossover rebuild. They sound flat, too bright with poor imaging - but for 10 to 15 years they were pretty great sounding speakers. Thoughts on crossover break in?? 
Thanks to anyone who responds!!  


In short, BIG TIME.

I recently bought a a high-end MOON streamer DAC . The manual specifies a 400 hour run-in time for all the build components to properly set. 

Yes, absolutely. The driver cones are very stiff to start and are designed to flex with the output a bit over time. Usually this takes anywhere from 100 hours to 300 hours to sound best. 

Most crossovers have capacitors that also need approximately 50-100 hours to break in, as well as some time for electrons to flow through any coils.

100 hours seems to be a pretty sweet spot to gauge how something is going to sound, but I’ve heard both drivers and electronics take anywhere from 50-400 hours. My tip for break in is to run Brown noise loops continuously on low volumes, even overnight. They are a bit softer on the highs and will pose minimalrisk on frying tweeters. 

Drivers measurably break in. Some makers specify whether the specs are broken in or not. That is, they’ll say something like "measured after 100 hours..."  Typically this is for woofers and mids which can have noticeable drops in the driver resonance frequency. 

I’ve heard caps break in with very weird, surround like effects until they settled in.

Speakers are mechanical devices with compliant suspension parts that work by stretching and flexing.  These parts need to be worked to reach the level of suppleness they are supposed to have when operating.  I am less sure about the reliability of reports on break ins taking many hundreds of hours—I would expect some changes, but I suspect that impressions of improvement have more to do with the listener becoming more acclimated to the sound of the new component or parts.

There's a definite physical break in of woofer suspension components...spider, surround, etc.  I'm a believer that there's burn in of capacitors too, but that's less tangible and harder to grasp for some.

Anything mechanical benefits from a break in period for sure. Electronic devices can benefit from break in, but not so much and it's not nearly so obvious. On the latter, long periods of break in might just be the breaking in of your ears to a new sound. :-)

Yes, there is definitely breakin on speakers. I have broken in at least half a dozen good speakers. Dynamic speaker’s bass tends to sound woolly and not fully developed at first. Tweeter can be harsh. I have never tried to attribute some portion of the change to the cross overs… it is quite possible some is due to them.

I don't think it's real. I know it's real. Sometimes 200 hours or more real. 

I know I'm the minority, but I think break-in for almost all audio products is non-existent! It's your hearing that is changing and adjust to the new sound, NOT the stereo components! The whole BREAK IN thing is mostly complete nonsense!


"I know I’m the minority, but I think break-in for almost all audio products is non-existent! It’s your hearing that is changing and adjust to the new sound, NOT the stereo components! The whole BREAK IN thing is mostly complete nonsense!"

You really don’t think that the physical parts of a moving speaker benefit from repeated flexing early on to loosen them up? That’s measurable and objective...most speaker builders will tell you that woofers won’t reach final tuning specs until the woofer suspension breaks in. Remember when you got a new leather baseball glove, and it needed to be broken in to make it comfortable and easy to open and close? Not so different with woofers. Each situation is unique, and how much of a difference a person notices is tougher to predict, but the basic woofer parts need a good stretch to achieve their expected performance.

Yes especially large woofers but even crossover parts & wiring at least in my own experience.

I'm convinced it's real based on the mechanical explanations I've heard.

In my own experience, it's hard to tell because simultaneously while drivers are breaking in, my hearing is accommodating to new sounds. Where the adjustment in my ears lets off and the adjustment in the drivers begins is very very hard to tell. There's no control on this experiment and auditory memory is weak for detail.

I have rebuilt Xovers many times each capacitor sounds different 

foils are normally better then typical poly sprayed particle conductors

go to humble homemade hifi capacitor test 

Duelunds copper foil oiled paper being the finest ,and can take up to 4-500 hours or more to fully runin ,, resistors  path Audio are far better-then the typical ceramic type.sonically and accuracy , inductors copper foil for tweeters midrange are far better then these cheap sledge hammer wire over a iron core ,for bass a big awg 12 or 14 guage open copper core are preferred , all these parts are much more expensive but dramatically increase imaging soundstaging and musicality.

as far as drivers absolutely mechanically the surrounds have to loosen up the wire has to stabilize as well as other mechanical parts of the drivers ,I give it at least 200 hours playing at increased volume levels , I use Isotek excellent runin cd ,and track 3 tune up track for years. I have over 20 years at this and owned a Audio store for a decade.  

Put on a new pair of jeans, or shoes.


not so comfortable. After a couple of days of use, they get better. 


Break in is very real. As an avid DIY builder of audio gear, it’s obvious to me how much benefit a driver will have from  break in over time.

As a similar analogy, consider a new automobile engine: There’s a reason you’re not supposed to over-rev the thing until so many hours have passed.

i agree that break-in periods are difficult to empirically evaluate due to our familiarization with the sound over hundreds of hours.

Post removed 

However, you can rev new speakers as much as you wish without damage. Just change the oil regularly.

"Once upon Your Dime...."

Does anyone other than me remember the suggested break-in time/mileage on cars and motorcycles?  The back-lot gray matter gurgles something about '500mi. or 30 days'....intelligent it was, for getting used to a new larger collection of bits 'o this 'n that with the potential of harm and/or demise of you at minimum?

Yup, thought so.
"Lets' do a fiery burn-out leaving the lot in the new 'Stang!"
"Doughnuts in that cul-de-sac?!  WTH Not....!"


The warranty doesn't cover idiocy. 

Any spankin' new driver?  100hrs. at a 'civil' level; after that, it's your ears, spouse as exists, and your neighbors' tolerance level(s).

My DIYs' (not just a cabinet, remember?) get stuck on a streamcaster @ a low Muzak dB for 100hrs.; rising after that in 5~10 dB for a day or evening.

Those periods are inclusive of anything that I consider to be a suitable 'workout' for a 'newbie', all freq's all the time...

I won't try to break anything for a month.
Listening all the time, until the end.
Then I just enjoy. *S*

Imho...they're your speakers.  I don't have to pay for the shipping, making calls, emails..... 

For what it's worth, Andrew Jones was quoted as stating it's not a big deal.  

Yes, break-in of any mechanical device is real. What is wrong is with manufacturers making YOU do the break in. Now, speaker guru Andrew Jones says that 90% of most break-in can occur in the first 10 hours for a well-designed driver.

OK, that sounds reasonable. What is not reasonable is manufacturers selling speakers requiring 200 hours or more to break in. This would put most people well into the end of the return period - perhaps beyond it. I mean, let’s face it, not everyone is going to buy a pair of speakers, wire them out of phase and put them in a basement playing Ted Nugent at 100dB for 200 hours. Not even counting the small amount of electricity used.

No. If a speaker manufacturer is foisting such poorly designed products on consumers they shouldn’t be patronized. I know I’ll never buy any speaker with such a reputation. The "recovering audiophile", Andrew Robinson, and his wife got into a discussion about this topic several months ago and concluded the same. 

That "break-in" should be required of the manufacturer BEFORE they ship them out the door.

Sure it’s real. But another thing that’s real is your brain adjusting to a new sound. We all have a mental template of how something should sound and over time, we adjust our brains to the nuances of different gear. 

In my opinion , I’m sure it can be measured with instruments as being real. But, can those measured differences actually be heard or just our ears and brains adjusting to the new component/ speaker?

Here’s a good test:  Buy a set of used speakers. If they have been used for several months, years or even decades, they can seem to change their sound over the first few days in your existing system, even though they are fully broken-in. That’s just you adjusting to how they sound. 

Hi, new here,

From a purely physical standpoint it makes perfect sense to me. Realistically, if they get better, it means you made the right choice. I just went from Bowers and Wilkins Nautilus 803 floor standers to 705 S2 stand mounts and couldn't be happier. Are they better, probably not. Do they sound better in my set up/room, absolutely. The tweak goes on...




None of my speakers are 'poorly designed'; they were designed to require around 200 hours of break-in. Buy used speakers if you don't want to deal with things like that. 

Several components to break-in. One is strictly post-manufacture time - like Magnepan glue which holds film to frame. That's a matter of time, not use, according to the factory. The same would hold for ESL's.

Then there's mechanical change as parts wear into a tighter or looser fit. And then there's warm-up, which matters in every listening session. My Quads sound better after a day's warm-up. My Class A  SS monoblocks sound best after 10 days. My SS phono-pre is always on - wall power for standby, NiCad for listening. My cartridges always sound better after 30 minutes.

@moonwatcher You say, "That "break-in" should be required of the manufacturer BEFORE they ship them out the door."

Agreed. My higher end Grado cartridge has had no perceptible change in sound, and as I was in contact with Mr. Grado himself, I know that it came direct from the factory as a special order. Hats off to Grado.

Built a set of speakers in Juiy. They sound different now than then, subjectively Better (now at around 200 hours of use)... as experienced by a 1/2 dozen people in our Vinyl Club, family members and myself. If it is a Placebo Effect, the PE has been consistant through variously aged people, the frequency of their exposure, Digital sources, Analog sources, different placement in the Room and other variables.

A very impressive Dummy Treatment...we are all fooled and happier for it. 

I merely note that if Zu Audio can offer free break-in before they ship to you, at their price points, it seems pretty lame for more "upscale" manufacturers to not do the same.  Speakers ought to be turnkey components.  You buy them, you plug them in, and you listen. You smile if they make you happy or you send them back if they don't. 

Forcing customers to do such long break-in periods does start playing into the psychoacoustics of mental accommodation, wherein you think they sound better because you want them to, and you've become used to them, not because they do by any objective measurements. 

And I have to ask you this:  If speakers change so much after 200 hours of use, what then of the next 4000 hours? How does a mass-spring-damper system "magically" know when to stop changing, or does it?   

Certainly physical components, yes.

But electrical current certainly changes wires and whatnot over time.  It’s called “electro migration” and eventually wears out wires and connections. Takes a ver long time.

It makes perfect sense that this process works on the front end for “good”.

No, I don't believe they do "break-in," What I do believe is people becoming accustomed to the speaker's sound. But lots of people also believe cables can be broken in, so there's that. 🙄

Hello sal1963!  sadly, "highest quality capavitors" is a bit vague. Unless they are Delunds, which are hideously expensive, that could be a problem. I have tried many different brands of capacitors (including Delund) and I have found that Mundorf KRPs work very well indeed and are reasonably priced. There are better sounding caps (Delund for sure) but the slight difference is not worth the price. I say this as a retired senior and serious, solder iron weilding, enthusiast. I'd tell you what brands they beat, but I am out of my house due to a flood and don't have acces to my amps, etc which are all in pods! The quality of the solder used, method of attachement of parts (super tight physical bonds before soldering) and the wire and terminals used in connecting the amps and speakers all matter too. I was shocked with the improvement made when I replaced connectors using ferrous metals with brass & copper parts! It made more difference that capacitors! When you consider that just in the wire from the amp to the crossover you might have four ferrous mental spades or banana plugs - then the terminals themselves on the amp and speaker boxes, the internal wire in the the speaker box - do the wires go from the crossover to the actual flexible wires to the driver's voice coils via a steel terminal attached to the speaker frame? - egads! (Fortunately my speakers are open baffle LX521s designed by Sigfried Linkwitz and it's easy to get to all the connections.) Make sure the wire from the crossovers actually touches the flexible wires going to the voice coils! Use silver solder. Solid silver wire used in jewelery making is available from jeweler supply houses at reasonable prices. it's not insulated, but you can figure that out. Details make a big difference! Enjoy the musc!


We used to run across it all the time when I owned a stereo shop.  Brand new, sealed boxes from same shipment as our demo pair.   There was no doubt or question.

My Borresen X-3's are stated as improving in sound quality every 100 hrs. up to 500 hrs. I can tell you's true.....

Driver break in needs about 5 minutes to get spider ready.

Then about 100-200 hours to get magnets and wiring and caps happy

No. This has been measured many times. Part of the myth is so you won't return it immediately and you'll get used to the sound of your new speaker.

For some surrounds like treated textile, maybe for a short duration but I really think any perceived change is your hearing acclimating to the new component, as most sound different that what you had before.


Yes unless you bought crap speakers.  With crap speakers the speakers still need to break in but still don’t sound good. 

No. This has been measured many times. Part of the myth is so you won't return it immediately and you'll get used to the sound of your new speaker.

There's a very long post at Audioholics, which I suggest reading the end first.  They don't say driver break in isn't real, but that it happens very quickly and once it occurs there's no need for more:


In an electrodynamic driver featuring the usual surround-diaphragm-spider construction, driver suspension mechanical compliance plays a key roll in determining the measured value of various driver parameters. All of these parameters will shift as the mechanical compliance of the driver's suspension shifts in value. The bulk of a driver's compliance shift will occur at the time of initial burn in.

Subsequent shifts in compliance are largely temporary in nature.

Danny Richie includes multiple measurements of drivers at differing states of burn in / use. This article would certainly support that drivers do "burn in" over time.

The manufacturers of some of my gear have indicated on the manual how the gear will change sonically after X amount of hours.

Yes of course speakers need burn in time. One hi fi dealer advised me to use burn in cd from Purist audio design and it really helps to reduce the time.

@erik_squires - indeed, once broken in, a speaker should perform how it was designed to perform and no more playing will increase the performance.

I dunno about that 'very quickly' part, though - that's not been my experience with either speakers or headphones, but I guess it depends on how you define 'very quickly'. I give 'em 150 - 200 hours before I judge them, though some need less.

My loudspeakers required about 300 hours of use to fully impart their coherence.  

For some woofers yes, they do loosen up a little. For planar magnetics and ESLs most definitely. Their diaphragms are tensioned with a heat gun they then relax to the right tension. Some ribbon speakers will actually relax to much in time and require ribbon replacement.