Jun 2, 201620240 views

Audio Myths... A mostly civilized discussion

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OK before this even begins.. STOP!
Many myths have existed for many years and while I am sure heated debate will arise I want to ask everyone to respect the rules of these forums. Act civilized. State your point of view, be open to other peoples point of view and hopefully we can at least UNDERSTAND where people are coming from and not just arguing for the sheer joy of it.
I guess I will start.
HEADPHONE and SPEAKER BURN-IN
A topic that comes up for me pretty often and yes.. I do think something happens when you take a BRAND NEW off the assembly line moving driver dynamic speaker with suspensions and surrounds and webbing and run it for X hours. Now I am not saying you have to do this. It may not even benefit you or if there is a change it might be so small it isn't worth even thinking about. But Physics dictates if a precision device has a job of moving hundredths of a millimeter then I expect if it gets used initially then the moving fabric, foam and rubber parts may stretch and wear and perform differently then bone dry stock parts that have never moved before.
So can it be real? I say yes. Can it be measured. It should be possible. Is it worth fighting over? Of course not. Many people attribute the change you "hear" during burn-in to the human ear simply adapting to the sound. Like listening to a tone for long enough that it disappears. But my usual advice is .. "If you like it out of the box, enjoy" I usually just put headphone and speakers I dislike though the hours of hard running, away from my ears and then assess later.

I will let you guys take over the next topic, Tone Arms, Headphone Cables, Interconnects, Cable Risers, Tubes..
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titaniumtv
This is an extremely suspect post... flagged
Question: I've read that if you play headphones continuously for over 4 or 5 hours, that can damage the headphones, at least with certain amp designs. Something about the components overheating. Is this true? Doesn't make much sense to me.
GuitarStruck
If you stay within the max power rating you will be just fine. The power rating usually results in deafening volume levels that you could not sustain for 4-5 hours at a time. Now cheap headphones may grossly overstate their maximum input power and die from being overdriven but that does not translate to properly designed products with valid specifications.
ANY dynamic driver will looses up and sound better after a while. While working in the business for 30 years, I have had many opportunities to experience that difference first-hand. Some drivers don't need muc, but some reuire a very long time. Pink noise generator run at low, but incresing volume was what I found the best way.
Mowgli66
loosens up
my hd559 sounded like crap in the first 10 hours it had thupn base and crap. like a 10$ headphone. it was way worse than my HD449 then it balanced out. and sounds great now! with the hd 6xx in the other hand there was no burn in.
Some brands burin in their units in the factory. Look at Audeze.
I tested the whole burn-in thing on my own ears, now I'm deaf. Saved me a fortune.
Myths usually don't drive me crazy. In myths we believe or we believe not. If someone believes in stands for speaker cables for instance....
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...that's fine with me. If one can stand paying $30.000/2m and it makes him happy, no problem. The question is how close from FRAUD is selling such staff. I wonder what do you think about that. Not in the scale like above, but once it happened to me too - a seller tried to fraud me and I recall this experience every time when talking about audio myths. Some 30 years ago, looking for some decent interconnection cables (decent=well done, robust) I dropped into an audio shop and asked a seller to show me some stuff with moderate price. He did but looked very unhappy with that so I asked him if he can recommend something. He glared immediately! He grabbed a cable from behind and showed me like it was a Holy Grail: DIRECTIONAL interconnect. With an arrow on a plug showing... direction? It was plain fraud, so I was stonewalled for a minute or more, standing with the cable in my hand like an idiot in front of the professor and I didn't know what to say. Then I asked him what is the arrow for and the answer was what I did expect: I should connect transport to preamp according to the direction of sound (SOUND!!!). And then he looked at me, looked at my face which probably looked like the face of a mime who didn't get applause, and he explained that sound (SOUND!!!) flows from the source (=transport) to destination (preamp). The cable costed $100. Looked like $30 cable (IMO expansive) + an arrow engraved on the plug for $5. Which makes it a pretty good margin. I didn't discuss, didn't argue, just left. Maybe he believed in it? Than was it a fraud or not?
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Mi.Rog
Single end grounding doesn't have much effect, but interconnect quality is way more important than speaker cable. Very low voltage and much more susceptible to (particularly) RF interference and small changes in capacitance and inductance. Is it useful on a Bose system? (Not an effing chance).
Mi.Rog
How do you afford all these ?
The myth that drives me the most crazy? HAS to be when people (mostly on the internet) INSIST that it is a SCIENTIFIC FACT that "human beings can't hear the difference between 320 kbps MP3/AAC/OGG whatever and 1411.7 kbps CD." Meanwhile, these sorts almost always own a soundbar for their TV and rock a pair of earbuds that came for free with some other high-end-electronic purchase... and listen to pop-y synthetic, electronic, intentionally-distorted music with very little dynamic range. When they say they can't hear a difference listening to their music in their room using their gear? I don't doubt them for a moment. But it blows my mind when they go on and on about telling me how I can't (physically impossible) hear a difference either.....
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"You guys have a nice day sucking each others D's." Classy.
Agreed completely... I don't like the concept/idea of MQA. I've not heard it. I don't think any of my gear supports it... I've not bought/own anything MQA, and I don't currently have a subscription to Tidal. I'm "all-in" though on the value of CD quality (or higher) FLAC > compressed MP3/AAC/whatever. 100%.
IMO if something needs "breaking" or "burning" it should be stated in device manual. I can hardly imagine such necessity, however. Personally I put it to the drawer "MYTHS". If some devices really would need any "braking" or "burning", whatever, it would mean that it was poorly designed, or was intentionally designed with the use of materials which are unstable, resonant or prone to aging. Just think: if driver suspension needs to be "settled" - doesn't it suggest that the material is improperly chosen? Or it was build intentionally like that to achieve some specific goals, but that should be plainly put in the manual. If the sound of any audio device - hypothetically - is to change in first 24 hours, what with the rest of its lifespan? What is logical explanation of this phenomenon? LOGICAL - it means with the use of science tools. However, I see some cases when "braking" can be observed, like TUBES. But, again, the user should be warned that the sound perception can change in time because of the device electrical nature. The sound perception is a very misleading human sense, what everyone here probably know. We all are prone to suggestions and marketing bullshit. And there is an internet... with incredible amount of INFORMATION, information and "information". Choose what you like.
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Howdy! Yeah, tubes can make a big difference in the sound. Preamp tubes, depending on their gain stage function and power tubes depending on bias and overall volume. However in the case of the two HRD amps, both were biased similarly and while the preamp tubes were different, those choices will affect clarity, snap and bloom... (how's that for nonsense adjectives!) but speaker smoothness is a different kind of sound. It's difficult to explain, but when a guitar speaker has had years vs. hours of use, the difference is significant. One thing to note about guitar speakers vs. home audio, is that the cones are generally paper or hemp and often use alnico magnets... though ceramic and neodynium are common as well. They are also voiced specifically for their mid range and low frequency reproduction. You certainly don't have to take my word, but having listened to hundreds of guitar speakers, new, old and in between... I'll take a well made, well used speaker 90% of the time. They just sound better for guitar once they've been "broken in." I have no idea if this translates into home speakers or headphones that typically have much stiffer driver materials.
Mi.Rog
Finally, an intelligent human beeing with the ability to think rational. Thank you for your comment, i absolutely agree with you.
I never had an opinion if there was any benefit to burning in headphones, electronics ect, but I recently picked up a cheap pair of iSK HP-980's & out of the box the highs were so harsh that I was going to send them back. I left them running overnight for about 12-hours & the highs had settled down a bit. After another 12-hours they was even better. I have about 30-hours on them now & they are still improving...a lot. They have gone from sounding like they have pre-emphasis, to becoming enjoyable. I'm sure in most cases the improvement with burn-in would be small or none existant and I don't know the theory behind it, but in this case the improvement was HUGE.
I actually did quite a bit of writing on this subject years ago and about what science says regarding what we hear and even how we do it. http://dtmblabber.blogspot.com/2010/07/list-of-sites-for-home-theateraudio.html?m=0 that has a number of links to DBTs and such and then if you look at the bottom of page there’s a list of posts about perception particularly relating to small room acoustics. Dr. Toole’s book should be required reading for anyone in this hobby.
Diminishing returns on DAC quality happen at about $25.
seanyboy
If you want to get right down to diminishing returns kick in as soon as you buy something outside of the built in chip in whatever device you are using. This doesn't mean that gains cannot be had with greater investment. You just won't get as much improvement per dollar as you continue to move up the price schedule. One thing that $25 won't buy you is longevity and quality of build. A decent rule of thumb will be 10x the cost for a 10% improvement. To some that last 10% is worth thousands, to others it's simply not worth it.
seanyboy
$25 DAC? The only stuff I've seen going for that price are those garbage plastic box TV converter units on Amazon.
Break in: I do believe that mechanical portions of your audio equipment (Speakers, headphones, microphones and maybe phono cartridges do benefit from a certain amount of break in over time. I prefer to refer to this as "settle in" time where a vibrating component tends to relax into its normal operating condition. Some items take more time, some less. I don't think this is a critical step as once use begins, this will take place anyway. Additionally, you may or may not even notice, or as one of my fellow professionals says, "you can get used to any speaker you choose to use." Some manufacturers even do this at the factory, before packaging, as just one more quality control step. Amplifiers: The big improvements in amplifiers are the quality of the small parts, i.e. capacitors. resistors, transistors and FETs. Class A, AB, D etc., have not changed drastically recently but the afore mentioned improved component parts have allowed these designs to perform better.., but not to the tune of thousands of dollars more. The parts quality gains, mentioned, represent only small gains in the finished product's performance, the designs are basically similar to the same. Tubes vs Transistors: It is true that there is a difference in sound between components built with either devices. There are many reasons not the least of which is the natural tendency of tubes to distort in a very pleasant way (even order harmonic distortion), while transistors naturally lean toward odd order harmonics, or not as pleasant. Also output transformers, in tube gear, have an effect on the final sound we hear leaning toward the warm, slightly boated, side. Again modern improved parts have begun to close this gap somewhat. Personally, I use solid state amps in my studio since they either work or they don't, and provide a long term reliable, unchanging reference. For relaxed listening, I prefer tube amps, or hybrids, but tubes, due to heat, deteriorate slowly over time. Wire: This is a tricky one as it's been disproved as much as proved, through blind testing, whether the differences in wire can actually be heard. I am especially suspicious of a 6 foot AC cord getting rid of all the hash collected along MILES of power lines before entering your home. As I once told members of a local audiophile club " we couldn't afford to pay, $6 - $50+ per foot, what you guys are willing to spend for exotic wire.., we couldn't afford the rest of the recording gear for the studio. Typically, we run hundreds of feet." I got blank stares indicating a rejection of information both scientific and financial, in favor of mythical beliefs. OK!, moving on then. Ironically, the very recordings, highly revered, by these individuals are made with wires purchased in bulk rolls at roughly $0.33 a foot, or less, by manufacturers of pro grade cable. I rest my case.
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Audiopro
Speaker wires, I agree. As long as the guage meets the length rquirement the difference are small. Interconnects are very different.
Mowgli66
I apologize for not including interconnects, in particular, which, as you say, are quite a different story. Inerconnects are carrying a much smaller signal which is more delicate and susceptible to interferences not shared by current carried by speaker cables a much higher level signal. While I didn't specify, the hundreds of feet of studio wires mentioned, are the pro equivalent of interconnects. Thanks for the heads-up Mowgli66.
Don't worry, You could always end up at the Console vs PC debate or decades earlier V8 vs Turbo cars! ;) Some things are better and some things are not, The correct response to any of them is do YOU want to spend the money on that particular item? Forget others justification for buying as it doesn't matter why, Only go off people who have the item and can give opinions on whether it is good or crap,That will cut out 99% of the trolls. Pricing is always subjective, For some people it's loose change for others it's a month's wages. In the end it is do YOU want it?
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macca74
Obviously PC and V8 is better
I have several.
  1. New amplifier designs - Other than some general improvements in Class D amplifiers over time there has not been any significant gains with new amplifier designs, it is really just marketing especially when it comes to class AB amps.
  2. Power - Power cables, power supplies, surge suppressors, power filters etc sold as audio grade are just a waste of money. Any preamp, or amp designed properly will not be affected by noise on the power lines. If you do get noise on the power lines then something else is generating it and not shielded properly or the preamp or amp circuits are not built properly. We are talking about designs that have existed since the 70's or 80's eliminates any noise that the human ear can hear from this and it may add a couple pennys to the cost of the equipment.
  3. Tube vs transistors - Tube amps are not better, it is a proven fact. The reason is the definition of what an ideal amplifier does, it would reproduce the exact waveform that is input into it with greater amplitude. All amplifiers will have some distortion and when powered beyond a certain point will get a much greater degree of distortion. Tube amps would have about 0.5W before they hit this point while mosfets could have 50W before they hit this point, and transistors can be run in setups to parallelize this for more power. Since tube amps have such a low power before they get highly distorted they are almost always run heavily distorted. The distortion can easily be measured and is well documented. The difference is the distortion is actually pleasant to listen to, not harsh like the transistor distortion. As the definition of an ideal amplifier requires the output to not be different in anyway other than amplitude that makes tube amps bad for amplifiers. Pre-amps are where equalizers or filters would be applied to change the sound so tube preamps to get the tube sound if that is what you want is how that should be done, but the amplifier should not do that. Nothing wrong with liking that sound and wanting it, it just should not be done in the amp.
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The late, great Peter Walker of Quad acoustics famously stated that "Any competently designed amplirier sounds pretty much as the next competently degigned amplifier". Of course, he was referring to class AB amps.
Mowgli66
I would definitely agree when it comes to class A and class AB amplifiers. One thing people don't seem to understand is that even the power supply in the amplifier and the power coming from the wall does not matter so much if the amplifier itself is designed properly. Well known publicly available designs for class AB amplifiers where the amplifier circuit design removes most of the noise from the power. Class D amplifiers are quite different because they are based on switching a triangular wave, to avoid the distortion in that case you would have to switch quite fast which makes it less efficient, uses far more expensive components, and is overall more difficult to design, so it starts to remove most of the advantages that class D amplifiers can provide. This means that for best quality while class D amplifiers can do it, they will likely be more expensive than class AB amplifiers of the same quality and the efficiency will likely not be that much different either. I am of course only referring to transistor amplifiers above as tube amps are too inefficient and provide too much distortion to discuss in this context.
I think it is your ears and brain adjusting to the sound signature of the new speakers, headphones, etc. How you hear sound (frequency range) and materials used to make the item lends to its sound character, but the item itself isn't, "breaking in." Also, $1,000 cables and such are just snake oil. There is no sound difference between a 12 gauge copper speaker wire bought at Menards and a fancy schmancy 12 gauge $1,000 speaker cables wrapped in the tears of children. You can tell yourself that all you want to justify the purchase. I don't care, you do you; but they sell ridiculous priced stuff like this because people like to have exclusive stuff. Lastly, the concept of "Pace, Rhythm and Timing" of electronics is also hogwash. Many professional reviewers use these imaginary, non-measurable descriptors when talking about amps, cd players, speakers, and whatnot, but it is all nonsense trying to justify the price tag of some shiny $2,000 piece of gear that has the same internal electronics as the $50 Dayton Audio version purchased on Parts-Express. Don't get me started on Bose. Background: I have bought and sold Hi-Fi equipment for years. At one point it was like a part-time job I bought and sold so much. I had five different audio set-ups, rotating equipment as I acquired and sold it. After all that and having owned speakers and amps worth thousands of dollars, my go-to set ups for several years have been: Upstairs: AudioTechnica Turntable McIntosh MA6200 Integrated (mid 1970s) Polk Audio Monitor 10 HiFiman HE4XX Downstairs: Pioneer Turntable Onix SP3 tube amp (new old stock tubes) Rotel CD player Polk Audio Monitor 7
Quotient
There's a ton of hogwash out there man, especially with the component systems. Once you know what's really in that big black box, your whole perspective changes.
My favorite myth: "My hearing is better therefore my opinion is more valid." Actually I guess that's sort of the audio meta-myth. :)
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We didn't pump millions into marketing so that you WOULDN'T waste your money. How dare you be satisfied by what you like, when there are more expensive products!!
JamesMelton
In my many years of the business, I always made it a point to qualify what and where a customer was comfortable. Show them how to work two systems and leave them alone (preferably with their own source material) for as long as they wanted to compare (except Bose. Never Bose. That would be insulting to anyone who can hear).
The iGrado I purchased many moons ago had little or no change, the Bose 35 had a little change that was very subtle (where the headphone was originally very mid-range heavy to where it is merely somewhat mid-range dominant). Now for the IEM monitors, the CC-C10 was simply unlistenable it was bright,irritating/ edgy, no depth and a lot of awful out of the box, after many hours it is a detailed sophisticated sound with a lot of detailed low bass and now a lot of spacial information (and an excess of high frequencies still). The Yinyoo's had a big 'fuzzy' bass and mids but little high frequency out of the box (very smooth and comforting sound (kind of an anti CC-C10 sound)) still they were enjoyable like an old push-pull tube amp. After 40 hours burn in they still have the basic character but have developed better midrange articulation, the bass is still big and not incredibly detailed but not ill defined either, but the significant change was the addition of high frequencies. edit: Home speakers, never noticed any significant change. Regarding the discussion at hand, you have either heard or you have not heard a change in driver sound OR you have or have not measured a difference. There are some technical rubs with process and repeat-ability of both subjective and objective methodologies so yeah your mileage may vary.
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Johnny-V
IEM's require a VERY tight fit into the ear canal to avoid sounding tinny. Try pulling up your ear as you slide the tip in, then let the ear rest/fall back. It's like going from a Pinto to a top-fuel dragster.
(Edited)
every myth is just what it is: a myth!
Most headphones don't experience appreciable burn-in, I assume because the mechanical properties of mylar don't change very much with wear. However, Aiwa has some biocellulose-based headphones that have measurable burn-in. Since the cones are (essentially) paper and they have separate surrounds, it's easy enough to believe that they stretch out or break in to a greater than normal extent.
About wire speakers and interconnects... "I credit the success of the speaker wire industry to their expert sales and marketing ability. However, it is my experience that ordinary copper wire, as long as it's heavy enough, is just as good as name brands.
Looking at this from a different perspective, there will always be those who will want expensive wire, not because there is an audible difference, but because they may value pride of ownership and prestige in a similar way to that of owning a Tiffany lamp or a Rolex watch." Roger Russell, Author, Artist, Engineer, Inventor, Photographer, Collector, and formerly Director of Acoustic Research at McIntosh Laboratory, Inc. and the originator of McIntosh Loudspeakers

http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm

http://www.roger-russell.com/


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As for digital signals, you are correct about the small electrical pulses, but digital by definition means that it just needs to determine if it is a 1 or a 0 which is very easy even with large amounts of interference. It is true that digital signals degrade over distance more quickly than analog signals, but for instance if you want uncompressed audio that is at or above the maximum frequency and volume range the human ear can comfortably hear then you are talking about something that is very easy to do and has been done for several decades on cheap coaxial cable or cheap twisted pair cable over 100 meters or more. The only problems are in the most extreme electrically noisy environments like A/C ducts, flourecent lights, elevators or industrial equipment, it is quite rare to encounter data issues on a copper digital like outside of those situations. For the optical, I agree that most TOSLINK cables are plastic fiber, but the required data rates are so low that generally does not matter, though I have not investigated far enough to see if the difference can be heard. That being said my own experience with them has generally come up with better results than analog cables, and about the same as digital. As for the glass fiber, it is more fragile, but not as easy to shatter as most people think, I have used that quite a bit in networking and have not encountered any problems with it. For what the average home user does with cables the glass fiber will likely be a bit of a problem, but if you have some idea of the bend radius requirements then you are very unlikely to encounter any problems with it. As for the monoprice cables coming loose, I would not know I don' t move things around more than twice a decade... because there is no reason I have found to do so.
Respectfully, the bandwidth of a fiber-optice cable is orders of magnitude greater than required for audio. The transmission of those audio packets require such a small part of the spectrum that there is an EXTREMELY robust error-correction algorithm built-in. Bits is bits, when it come to audio.
Most "audio myths" are promulgated by people who are casual listeners, not trained listeners, or people whose hearing abilities aren't the same as others', but who want to insist that they DO have the same abilities. The equivalent of a guy sitting on a couch with a beer who's never been on a race track saying HE KNOWS Lewis Hamilton isn't really all that good of a racer. Or a person with significant uncorrected myopia insisting that there's no such thing as a horizon. Two things involved in any competence - talent (or ability) and skills. Everybody has differing abilities. Some people are tone deaf, can't sing a melody at all because their brain just doesn't distinguish pitches at a granular level. Some have perfect pitch, and can tell you if an orchestra is tuned to A=440 or A=442. Then there are skills, things that with a lot of training and practice you can improve. Given basic ability, hearing is trainable - most of it happens in the brain not in the ears. I don't have perfect pitch, but developed the skill of positive pitch - if you gave me a starting note I could perform an entire song on key based on that initial note. After a dozen years of playing professionally I could hear a trumpet or trombone play and without looking, tell you whether they had a brass or silver bell, and if brass, was it red brass or yellow brass. I can't now... haven't played for over 30 years. Skills require constant training. There's no shame in not having some ability or another. Most of us could learn to jump higher with training. Most of us, regardless of how hard we train, could never make it to the Olympics. If you can't hear the difference between using lamp wiring zip cord and exotic speaker wires, good for you, think about all the money you can save! But insisting that because you can't tell, no one can, is foolish. And from a purely technical perspective - "bits is bits" is based on a misconception that what's fed through wires is discrete ones and zeroes. It's not. A one is a slight increase in the current, a zero is a slight decrease, not a total lack of current. I've seen supercomputer clusters perform radically differently with different network wiring (in the old days) and different fiber (today) where both options were from a spec perspective identical.
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Having said that, if you're gonna own one headphone cable, then it might as well be a decent Mogami cable.
LuckyLuke575
True haha. Although it'll be components I put together for a 10th or 20th of the price. There is literally no justification for expensive cables if you research the specs, which should be knowledge an audiophile wants to acquire (ie. AWG, build materials, resistances, RG6 vs RG58, etc.). Unless of course, you are in marketing! I've seen particle board cable risers for sale for hundreds of dollars. It is completely insane. If someone can find me a cable that grounds my dog to the carpet, so when he passes by my amp weird shit doesn't happen, I'm game!
Burn-in your tubes and maybe your Dac too. Looking at you Modi Multibit.
Helpbot
funny. Yes, and Zeos applies that to everything...
A bit different from headphones, but in car audio I did a test with some of my audiophile buddies.  I built a 100% sound quality oriented competition grade audio system, I get headphone quality sound out of it. Everyone that listens to it is in awe: -I have two JL HD 600's powering the 3 way JL C7 speakers on the left and right up front, each on their own channel.   -3 JL W6V3 subs powered by a JL HD 1200.  -A Helix DSP Pro mk2 processor providing 30 bands of EQ, time alignment for driver or passenger, and volume adjustment per speaker; 240 bands of EQ total.  -All EQ set with a calibrated mic, and a touch of tuning with my ears.  -300 lbs of dynamat, MLV, AND sound dampening, everywhere -Every issue from listening in a car environment has been accounted for and taken care of. Source material is directly from USB using Tidal, right to the audio processor. Even the untrained ear can hear the difference between 24bit/96khz master quality songs and 16bit/44.1khz CD quality songs.  Long story short, just for fun, I changed the speaker wiring on the right side to cheap 14 gauge cca, the left side has 12 gauge copper. Absolutely no one, including me could tell the difference. At high volume full 150w, you can smell the cca wire melting, but thats it.  At -6db from full volume, the wire only needs to carry 35w rather than 150w and the cca is fine. I believe you can only hear changes if you know there. Even a 1db change in eq setting can be heard more than changing the wire gauge. I'm sure the wire change made a slight difference, but is nearly immeasurable. The human brain is easily fooled. Now I should take it to a competition like that and see what the judges think.
Humanthing
I remember my days in Isca.
Humanthing
What kind of competition? A dB contest?
The latest addition to my "tweak-tionado" addiction is Synergistic Research's Blue fuse ($150 w. a 30-day, money back guarantee.) Holy smokes, this little thing really works. Pulls the singer and instruments right into the middle of my head versus one or two inches, left to right, outside and around it. Highly recommended.
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Here's what I can tell you: The stock fuse that came installed in my AC regenerator (head of the line in my system) placed the music  outside my head, kind of  like speakers do,  six feet away in  my listening room. Replacing that fuse brought it deeply inside - just where I want it and  like it.
The #1 Audio Myth is that sound is subjective. The reality is that human hearing is adaptive and significantly affected by other senses and biases, which makes people's individual perceptions of their own objectivity distorted. Being objective and having a clear understanding of what makes sound good takes time, hard work, attention to detail, and the patience to deal with all the limitations of language in the context of an evolving scientific field. While I am not an audio engineer, I've come to appreciate their writing and understanding of audio to be much better than audiophile writing and understanding, and this is likely due to the fact that an audio engineer's understanding of their own limitations and their ability to be objective and communicate with other professionals helps them to do their job well. Audiophiles and the companies that sell to them have no such economic incentive and are rather motivated the same way that wine enthusiasts or art enthusiasts are, and benefit from indulging in some of the least grounded rhetoric because it insulates the players from criticism and allows everything to exist within their own logical-reasoning proof bubbles, which need the foundation of "whatever [sounds|tastes|looks] best to you" to allow the purchaser to boost their ego by choosing which irrational constructs to glue onto their identity by purchasing the "best" product for them.
Ask Any manufacturer, a large one, and they Will tell you that There is a measurable difference on anything that needs to move. Not a Lot, but its There. That does not mean that 1000 hours of burn-in is needed with common run-off-the-mill products.
The sound signature does change very, very minutely, but what the manufacturers really want you to do is listen to their product for a month or so to get your brain and ears used to the new sound signature. This isn't actually a bad thing. If you're mind is used to processing a V-shaped sound and you get something really well balanced and detailed, it may take a month or longer for your mind to unlearn your previous preference. There is burn in...It just so happens it's more in your brain than in your headphones.
(Edited)
DAP's need burn in time.
Icefalkon
you forgot the "/s" ?
They eyes can't hear more than 5 gigs of ram