So you’ve picked up some new speakers or studio monitors. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be eager to get them set up and enjoy them.
Before you use your monitors for critical listening, there is one step you can take to get the most out of your new speakers. One that many people might not be aware of. Speaker burn-in.
But before we dive into why and how to do this, we need to cover a couple of things.
Essential Parts Of A Speaker
Most speakers and studio monitors will feature universal components inherent to creating sound. But a few parts are critical regarding the sound quality you’ll experience.
These three parts benefit the most from a break-in.
Cone/Diaphragm – This is the part of the speaker that will move and push air to generate sound. They can be made from various materials like paper, polypropylene, and kevlar, to name a few.
The Surround – This rubber edging surrounds the diaphragm and connects to the speaker basket/cabinet. It allows the cone to move forward and backward freely.
The Spider – This small part keeps everything centered, including the voice coil, and connects to the box.
There are other elements to a speaker, but these three are the ones that will play the most significant role in breaking in your speakers. And they all share one main thing in common. They are moving parts, and they need a break-in period.
Is Breaking In Speakers A Myth?
This is something I often see mentioned when discussing breaking in speakers. And while some may consider it a myth, the reality is that it is not. The technique of break-in does lead to a tangible difference in the quality of the output whether they are studio monitors or speakers.
Speaker break-in does make a difference.
To further highlight that it is not a myth, several manufacturers include instructions for a burn-in period within their documentation. And if anyone is worth listening to, it is the audio experts that develop the speakers we use daily.
Why It’s Important
Now that we have looked at the construction of most speakers and confirmed that break-in is not a myth, it’s time to dive deeper into why it is essential.
When these speakers are manufactured under precise conditions, the materials tend to be slightly stiff straight off the production line. To attain the best performance from your studio monitors, these moving parts need to stretch to reach their full elasticity and make the parts more flexible.
Break-in helps key components to loosen up.
Throughout the burn-in period, these parts stretch across their full dynamic range. This will result in smooth and more natural delivery and bring the speaker to its full potential. You’ll experience smoother bass, warmer mids, and crisper highs.
Before you start making critical decisions or analyzing a studio monitor’s performance, you must have already fully broken in your speakers.
How Long Is The Break In Time Period?
So let’s get your shiny brand-new monitors broken in. And it is a lot simpler than you may think.
All you need is some full-range audio that you can play through your speakers. The ideal type of music should hit a broad range of frequencies.
The audio should offer deep and rich bass tones. Equally, the best choices will also feature plenty of sound in the upper part of the frequency range.
Playing your favorite music makes the break-in process more enjoyable.
While you can use white noise or specific music designed for this process, playing the tunes you enjoy is the best approach.
As for volume level, it is best to play music at a relatively high volume level. You don’t need to max out your monitors, and I’d advise against it. But it needs to be loud enough to see the cone’s movement.
How long to break in speakers can vary depending on the brand. But as a general guide, most monitors will reach their full potential after 100 hours. This may seem like a lot of time, but if you regularly listen to music, you’ll quickly get there. If you are in a rush, you can run this process overnight and even during the day when you are at work.
Best Music To Break In Speakers
Unsure of what music to use during the break-in period? Below are some excellent options that will cover the full breadth of frequencies you want to test.
Note these are Youtube clips, so they are compressed files. High-quality audio is preferred, but this is a good starting point that can guide you in the right direction regarding the type of music that works best.
The Weeknd – Starboy ft. Daft Punk
This excellent collaboration between the legendary Daft Punk and The Weeknd offers plenty of deep bass and warm vocals.
Bassjackers and MAKJ – DERP
This popular and punchy festival banger hits hard in the low end and also delivers a crisp electronic progression throughout the frequency spectrum.
Hans Zimmer – S.T.A.Y – Interstellar Main Theme
The main theme from Interstellar from the uber-talented Hans Zimmer offers a detailed and dynamic orchestral composition that is a great warm-up for your studio monitors.
Once the break-in period is complete, everything from the diaphragm, the voice coil, spider, and surround will be adequately stretched and flexible enough to deliver optimal performance. Now you can enjoy your new speaker, knowing you are getting the best out of them.