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So what's the story with breaking in speakers?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ric426, Nov 29, 2006.


  1. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I remember reading about this, but haven't been able to find the thread that menstions it. Is it more myth or fact? If it's legit, what's the right way(s) to do it?
    I just received the first of two Epi PS-112's and want to do things right.
     
  2. Reefer

    Reefer Guest

    Mar 9, 2003
    From www.acmebass.com:

    A. The woofers in our Acme Low B Series II models have a break-in period. The surrounds on these woofers have a higher stiffness new-out-of-the-box than they do after some hours of use. This has two real-world consequences.

    The first is that the ability of the systems to reproduce the lowest notes doesn’t reach it’s full capability until the surrounds have been loosened up by being used.

    The second, and perhaps more important consequence, is that when driven to their maximum excursion, the woofers are much easier to damage when they are new, than after they’ve been broken in. It is more likely that the cones will be overstressed the when the speakers are brand new, than at any time after they’ve been used.

    How much break-in time is necessary? I have broken them in using a sine-wave generator in less than three hours. I believe that whan playing bass, it is very difficult to predict how long it would take for a specific person to do it. It depends on your style, and how loudly you play. My best advice is to start slowly, and work you way into it. Within reason, of course, the longer, and the more gradual the better. But please do your best to loosen up the woofers before you get into any serious slammin.’

    The reason I have chosen to point out these concerns about breaking the speakers in, is because just lately, I have had two customers damage their woofers within the two-week trial period. This was unheard of just several years ago. The woofers are the same. But I believe that the availability of incredibly powerful amplifiers, even more than just a few years ago, has sort of changed the landscape.
     
  3. ric426

    ric426 In my defense, I was left unsupervised. Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Thaks! That's exactly the info I was looking for.
     
  4. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    If you go to the 'audiophile' sites you'll see some claims that it can take 400 hours of use for a speaker to fully break in. It's nonsense, but they'll use any reason to justify why the speaker they just spent $20k on sounds like crap. It doesn't sound any different after 400 hours than it does after 40, but after 400 hours they've gotten used to the sound of it and no longer notice that it sounds like crap.

    This brings up an important point in the winter. Cold temperatures will cause a drivers suspension to stiffen considerably. When in transit try to keep the speaker warm, and if you can't allow plenty of time for it to get to room temperature before you use it.
     
  5. ninnlangel

    ninnlangel Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    France, Switzerland
    I broke my ACME's in with a 12Hz sin wave. The excursion was at the maximum before I could hear the speaker suffering. Sounded like 3 18 wheelers in my room lol. But it sure as hell made a big difference.
     
  6. Supertanker

    Supertanker Watch the dog! He is trained to bite!

    Jun 23, 2005
    CinCinNati
    http://www.eminence.com/faq23.asp

    How do I break-in or age my speaker?

    Speaker break-in will vary from model to model. It can even vary between two of the same model. The degree to which a speaker has reached break-in is a very subjective topic.

    Some players like them right out of the box and others want to beat them to within an inch of their lives. Most players hopefully fall somewhere in-between.

    There really is no "magic" inherent in speaker break-in methods. The speaker will continue to break-in naturally throughout its lifespan, but the most noticeable amount will occur early on.

    Some of the most widely used techniques for break-in include: Playing music through the speaker at moderate volumes for a few days (some players even have specific songs they use), Using a Variac, Hanging the speaker with the cone facing downward to promote suspension sag, and Physically moving the cone up and down. We often use a noise signal generator at 20Hz with enough current to get the speaker moving smartly for a few hours, but without abusing it. Guitar speakers are generally not accustomed to very low frequencies and it is easy to harm them if you are not careful.

    The most highly recommended and safest way is several hours of higher volume playing.
     
  7. HotRatz

    HotRatz Guest

    Mar 13, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Hey, I just got home and waiting patiently on my doorstep were the replacement drivers for my Berg HT210 cab, ordered fresh from Jim.

    Anybody know any particular break-in recommendations for these? I believe they're Eminences. I'm wondering if I can just drop them in, and use em on the gig tomorrow, or if I should practice thru them a for a couple days first. Reckon I can drop em and rock em, eh?

    I'll drop a line to Jim in the morning, just wondering if anybody awake knows. cheers!
     
  8. ninnlangel

    ninnlangel Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    France, Switzerland
    What you risk in doing that is breakage if you push them too far. That happened to me with my Acme B1, which I had only used for maybe 20 hours at low volume in my room, and then abused on a funk gig that got way too loud. Destroyed the cone completely. I used a sin wave to break the replacement in, advice taken from Andy Lewis of Acme.
     
  9. HotRatz

    HotRatz Guest

    Mar 13, 2003
    Portland, OR
    How many hours did you hit them with the sine wave? Do you need to ramp the volume up to high levels over a period of time, as well? Sounds like you got it pretty loud.. :bassist:

    I'm thinking, generate an X-hours long 12hz sine wave in Sound Forge, edit the volume envelope to ramp up gradually, pipe it through the mixer and power amp, turn it on, buy a six-pack of peace beer for the neighbors? Best make it a weekend afternoon..
     
  10. lowstar

    lowstar

    Jul 3, 2001
    Schnitzelland
    my favorite speaker-break in regimen:
    connect my cd player to the rig and play an endless loop of jaco´s rendition of "amerika" at low level; after a few hours, come back and turn the volume up some more, and again, leave it alone for a few hours.

    not only does it break in your speakers, it also "tunes them in" to the sacred and magnificent touch of the greatest bass player ever. :D

    cheers,
    lowstar
     
  11. A9X

    A9X

    Dec 27, 2003
    Australia
    The comments below mainly relate to post #2 which I forgot to 'quote'.

    I 'break in' speaker drivers by having a pair of them free air, face to face, connected out of phase (so minimum noise escapes into the surroundings), driven by either a slighlty off tune FM receiver with the muting disbaled or a circuit that I have that generates a similar wideband modulated noise. Levels are set for the driver so that on the peaks of the noise, the speaker will reach xmax. Depending on the speaker design, type and brand, there can be a noticable difference in impedance curves and measured T/S parameters as the suspension loosens. Typically I run them this way for a week in my shed.

    As Bill states there is much malarkey in audiophile scenes around this subject, but hi efficiency pro and other drivers used in domestic systems will take a long time to settle in used at the very low power these systems will be seeing. Similarly for those who use any speaker at low volumes such as those who live in apartments or must use their systems softly whilst children sleep etc.

    The same situation applies to a 4x10 for example that needs several hundred watts to reach Xmax and is used in a bedroom practice rig at conversational levels.
     
  12. Most speaker manufacturers neither require nor recommend any sort of break-in period. In 30 years of playing, I've never 'broken in' a speaker nor noticed any difference whatsover in sound from minute one to hour 50.

    The one exception might be the Acme line, which uses very high excursion, long throw type woofers. However, even with these, 15 minutes of moderate volume playing (according to Andy himself) will be more than enough to loosen the surrounds a touch.

    However, for your Epi's.... from Nick himself... plug 'em in and rock right out of the box.
     
  13. 'Breaking in' your speaker will have the result of your new one identically blowing up if you abuse it on a 'too loud funk' gig.

    The idea that any sort of 'sine wave' regime would have any differential impact than playing through the cab for 20 hours:eek: at low volume is ludicrous:rollno: :rollno: :rollno:

    Please guys... don't fall for all this stuff. Don't abuse your speakers, and don't turn them to full volume until you've played through them for, oh, 5 minutes or so at moderate volume and you will all be fine:cool:
     
  14. ninnlangel

    ninnlangel Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    France, Switzerland
    As I mentioned in my post, these where Andy Lewis' instructions. And the difference it made in tone was noticeable and huge. If you accept that the suspension is stiff at first and needs to be loosened for optimal xmax, then I am sure you can understand that 3 hours with speaker movement of up to .5" will do that very efficiently. There is no "myth" there, I don't think using a recording of Jaco will make them sound better, nor do I think it would be useful to break them in using full range noise. The idea is simply to fatigue the suspension material in order to attain the driver's spec'd xmax.

    Playing at moderate volumes hardly moves the speaker. It will not loosen the suspension enough, or at least not in 5 minutes or even in 20 hours. I can clearly hear the difference in tone after breaking the speaker in - and at some point before breaking in my other B1, I had both side by side to a - b it.

    The situation in which I busted my woofer was still due to my mistake, but I believe that it might have resisted if it had been broken in. When I say "Loud funk gig", I only mean "LOUD" as in much louder than my usual acoustic jazz work, where more often than not I play without an amplifier. I was pounding on my low B string a lot though.
     
  15. ninnlangel

    ninnlangel Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    France, Switzerland
    However, it's true that I have never had to do that with other speakers, so my advice was probably unnecessary for your Epifanis.

    I am sure it also depends on the suspension material. The stuff on the acme's is some sort of fabric coated with some rubber, and it feels quite stiff at first. I don't think the ones that are just full rubber (for example on the AI Contra or the EBS Drome combo) need breaking in.
     
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    It is a fact that speakers need to be broken in. It is a myth that there is some magic way to do it or that the way it is done has any effect on what they reproduce. They are "broken in" within seconds or minutes of being first used.
     
  17. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    That's from ACME and specifically for the drivers they use, and those recommendations do not apply to home stereo hifi equipment and may not apply to other manufacturers' equipment.
     
  18. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    In other words... Normal use. :)
     
  19. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Much depends on the driver in question. I've measured many with an fs that's right on spec out of the box, and just as many with fs 20 Hz higher than spec until after break in. The suspension does not have to be loosened to reach optimal xmax, what happens is that until the fs is dropped to its normal range the response of the driver doesn't go as low as it should, which the player may compensate for with excess power. However, I don't see this as a potential source of driver failure in and of itself, considering that the average driver will seriously distort at no more than half its rated power anyway. Broken in or not, if a driver blows 99.9% of the time it was either defective or abused.
    Of course not. You'd only notice a difference if you had a new box and a broken in box side by side to compare. 'Audiophiles' who claim their speakers with 400 hours use sound completely different than with 40 hours use are suffering from a serious case of placebo effect. Do they hear a difference? Yes. Why? Because they want to.
     
  20. ninnlangel

    ninnlangel Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2005
    France, Switzerland
    I stand corrected - I am no speaker expert.

    I do maintain that I could hear a big difference in tone, and that is A/Bing with my unbroken in B1. I could also get my sin wave much louder before hearing any sign of weakness from the driver after the first hour of breaking in.

    From the ACME Website :

    The second, and perhaps more important consequence, is that when driven to their maximum excursion, the woofers are much easier to damage when they are new, than after they’ve been broken in. It is more likely that the cones will be overstressed the when the speakers are brand new, than at any time after they’ve been used.

    How much break-in time is necessary? I have broken them in using a sine-wave generator in less than three hours. I believe that whan playing bass, it is very difficult to predict how long it would take for a specific person to do it. It depends on your style, and how loudly you play. My best advice is to start slowly, and work you way into it. Within reason, of course, the longer, and the more gradual the better. But please do your best to loosen up the woofers before you get into any serious slammin.’
     

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