Did you know that when you purchase a new set of headphones they are not at their optimum performance out of the box? I didn't, until I discovered Moshi Audio's Burn-in Tool (free).
A while back I reviewed Moshi's Dulcia in-ear headphones. They had a great sound, but I read that to make them perform even better it was recommended to download and use the Burn-in Tool app.
I recently interviewed Moshi's director of product marketing, Spencer Pangborn, by email so he could explain how the headphone burn-in process worked.
iPhone Life: How do you know when the headphones have reached their best sound quality?
Spencer Pangborn: This depends on many factors such as driver type, size, and equipment used. But generally, 10 hours should relax the diaphragms enough to reach the intended sonic performance. Even without using any burn-in apps, the headphones should be fully burned in after a couple weeks of normal usage. The burn-in app is meant to accelerate the 'settling' in process.
iPL: It says the recommended duration for each burn-in cycle is 4-8 hours. Does that mean it has to be done all at once or can you just let it run for 10-20 minutes at a time? Is it possible to use your iPhone or iPod while the burn-in process is working?
Pangborn: Unfortunately, you cannot use your phone while the burn-in process is taking place. For this reason, it may be best to conduct the burning-in overnight. You may break up this burn-in process into 10 or 20 minute (or any shorter duration) chunks without affecting the results.
iPL: The burn-in tool is customized for each set of Moshi headphones. Explain how that works? Give an example between burn-in tones for the Dulcia compared to the Mythro.
Pangborn: The burn-in process involves playback of a set of tones/frequencies in a continuous loop. Since each of our headsets uses different drivers with tuned frequency responses, we arranged these tones to best suit their sonic signature. We could use a generic tone generator that sweeps across the entire spectrum (i.e. 10Hz–30kHz) for all headsets, but it won't be as efficient at relaxing the diaphragms on the drivers as the ones we've tailored. In other words, it's a waste of time to playback tones under 20Hz for a driver that can't go that deep and expect any meaningful burn-in result.
iPL: Does the Burn-In Tool work well with third party headphones?
Pangborn: Yes, the app allows you to enter in any headphones so they may be burned in. We have created a standard burn-in profile which is available within the app for this purpose. The app itself is customized for Moshi Audio earphones, so it will work best with the products we make, but should be nearly as effective at burning in other audio products.
So, does the Burn-In Tool work? To tell the truth, I haven't burned the Dulcia headphones long enough to make a difference (only 20 minutes so far).
If you decide to try it out for the recommended time on a pair of headphones you own, let me know what you think in the comment section below.