Question Amp burn in necessary? Recommendation to improve HIFI set up

Wai

Novice Member
Hi everyone

This is my first post regarding Hifi as I've just purchased my first system!

I have Roksan Blak integrated amp, Node 2i streamer and Fyne Audio F502 loudspeakers. I use Chord Clearway speaker cables and for twin RCA from the Node to the amp.

Firstly, I auditioned a number of integrated amplifiers and all in ones (streamer and amp). The last amp I audtioned was Roksan K3 which I absolutely loved but I decided to buy the Blak as I heard and nothing but amazing reviews and because it is supposed be higher end model with superior components so I didn't even bother to audition it.

The problem is that when I listen to it now it seems a bit 'restrained', does the amp need time to 'burn in'? When I tried the K3 it was already very sweet and open (I guess its been an ex demo model for a good few years) and I also auditioned a new Cyrus One Cast which I really liked sraight out of the box

I really don't want to return the Blak as it seems not to make sense going back to a cheaper/lesser models. The thing is I don't want to take too long to decide because Im afraid I will go over the 14 day cooling off period after which I can't return it.

Does anyone have any experience with the Blak? If the issue is insufficient time to 'burn in' then how long would it take and can this be sped up somehow?

Separately, would adding an external DAC like the Chord Mojo improve sound quality given that it would need to be MQA certified too as I listen to MQA (and non MQA files) through Tidal?

Although, I've bought relatively expensive gear, I'm still really new to HIfi, so please keep your simple as you can.

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Wai
 

SamyBoy13

Active Member
Roksan blak is in different league than k3. K3 got muddy low end in comparison and overall sound quality between the two is noticeable. When i auditioned Blak caspian m2 and k3, I count tell much difference between caspian and black, however blak/caspian vs k3 a huge night and day difference.

Burn in is a tricky one as generally amp retains its sound signature but soundstage can open up after few hours of use. My yamaha as3000 took 30 hours to open up but sound quality did not change much. I would describe the change from a amazing amp to astonishing. Yet I might of just adjusted to sound. The difference I noticed was night and day with as3000 but with as501 that I had before I could not tell any difference out of the box versus 20+ hours.


Im mean leaving Blak playing for 20 to 30 hours before reassessing would be ideal before you decide to return it. Then please remember you only got 14 days from delivery to return it if you don't like it.

Hope this helps
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Hi everyone

This is my first post regarding Hifi as I've just purchased my first system!

I have Roksan Blak integrated amp, Node 2i streamer and Fyne Audio F502 loudspeakers. I use Chord Clearway speaker cables and for twin RCA from the Node to the amp.

Firstly, I auditioned a number of integrated amplifiers and all in ones (streamer and amp). The last amp I audtioned was Roksan K3 which I absolutely loved but I decided to buy the Blak as I heard and nothing but amazing reviews and because it is supposed be higher end model with superior components so I didn't even bother to audition it.

The problem is that when I listen to it now it seems a bit 'restrained', does the amp need time to 'burn in'? When I tried the K3 it was already very sweet and open (I guess its been an ex demo model for a good few years) and I also auditioned a new Cyrus One Cast which I really liked sraight out of the box

I really don't want to return the Blak as it seems not to make sense going back to a cheaper/lesser models. The thing is I don't want to take too long to decide because Im afraid I will go over the 14 day cooling off period after which I can't return it.

Does anyone have any experience with the Blak? If the issue is insufficient time to 'burn in' then how long would it take and can this be sped up somehow?

Separately, would adding an external DAC like the Chord Mojo improve sound quality given that it would need to be MQA certified too as I listen to MQA (and non MQA files) through Tidal?

Although, I've bought relatively expensive gear, I'm still really new to HIfi, so please keep your simple as you can.

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Wai
Don't know about amp burn in. I've never noticed it myself. However, generally speakers improve after they've had a bit of time to loosen up. If yours are also new, this could be it. Also, it could just be your room, compared to the showroom.
 
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Khankat

Active Member
The room in which your setup is in greatly affects what you will ultimately hear. Ideally, one should not only demo in store but also be loaned the equipment to try at home. Such equipment usually has a good few hours under it's belt, enough for you to know if you wish to purchase it.

Although I have not heard the Fyne speaker range, it is said they need careful partnering. So I am wondering if that partnership and your surroundings, is not giving you the sound you are looking for. Did you audition other speaker brands with the amp?

There are knowledgeable folk here who can advise on how to change your surroundings, to help you achieve your goal. For them to be able to help, you'll need to describe your room, it's dimensions, floor type and covering if any, and furnishings. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
Don't know about amp burn in. I've never noticed it myself. However, generally speakers improve after they've had a bit of time to loosen up. If yours are also new.
More likely the speakers need running in. Never had experience of an amp that needed running in.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
If the speakers are sounding a bit recessed my first instinct is to ask where you have placed them relative to walls and other objects. If they are placed too closely, it will boost the bass, but what you hear is the Mid/High becoming more recessed and muddy.

So, I suggest you pull the speaker a meter or two into the room, and away from side walls just as a test. If that cleans up the speaker, then you absolutely have a placement problem. Once that is determined, start moving the speakers back until you find a compromise position that best serves realistic placement and quality of sound.

Next - MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE BEYOND ANY SHADOW OF A DOUBT - that the speakers are wired properly. That in every case, the AMP(Red+) goes to the SPEAKER(Red+). Nothing will suck the life out of a speaker like one of them being wired backwards.

Just a thought.

Steve/bluewizard
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Amps don't really need a 'burn in time'. Amps do improve the longer they are left on and can sound better the warmer they are running. One of the reasons why some stereo amps have on/off switches on the rear of the unit and some manufacturers recommend leaving them on 24/7.

The biggest influence is going to be the new speakers and without doubt the room that they are operating in. Speakers do need time to 'burn in'. I won't say they'll sound totally different to the audition room but they may certainly not sound as good once your room and it's walls, glass and furnishings are taken into account.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Speakers do need a run in period. Mine have changed with age for sure. Exceptionally bass light out of the box for a speaker with 2* 6.5" bass woofers, but the bass has come over time. However, to play devils advocate, maybe the speakers have changed a little and my ears/expectations have also changed...? I am on my first proper setup after all. Before this my hifi was Argos specials (1000w of pure distortion nonsense)

Amps....A few hours at working temp should be sufficient? Just to bed everything in. Some amps come with a certain amount of 'burn in', but these tend to cost ££££ Passlabs as an example burn theirs in for 24hours - also a durability test mind!
 

Wai

Novice Member
Roksan blak is in different league than k3. K3 got muddy low end in comparison and overall sound quality between the two is noticeable. When i auditioned Blak caspian m2 and k3, I count tell much difference between caspian and black, however blak/caspian vs k3 a huge night and day difference.

Burn in is a tricky one as generally amp retains its sound signature but soundstage can open up after few hours of use. My yamaha as3000 took 30 hours to open up but sound quality did not change much. I would describe the change from a amazing amp to astonishing. Yet I might of just adjusted to sound. The difference I noticed was night and day with as3000 but with as501 that I had before I could not tell any difference out of the box versus 20+ hours.


Im mean leaving Blak playing for 20 to 30 hours before reassessing would be ideal before you decide to return it. Then please remember you only got 14 days from delivery to return it if you don't like it.

Hope this helps
 

Wai

Novice Member
Thank you all very for your helpful replies.

Regarrding the speakers, I'm aware that they need to be at least 1 metre away from the wall, however, the bass ports are downfiring onto its own plinth and I can't really move it further forward than about 50 cms but I guess the fact that it's a downfiring bass port would distance from the wall shouldn't be so important. Does anyone have experience using acoustic panels?

Secondly, I want to clarify that that speakers sounded open when I audtioned the K3 and Cyrus at home which was before I purchased the Roksan Blaka hence my question about amp burn in, rather than speaker burn in.

Thirdly, did anyone have any views about potentially adding an MCQ certified DAC, i.e. would bypassing the Node's own inbuilt MCQ certfied DAC improve sound quality?

Lastly, I've managed to improve the sound a lot by tuning the treble and bass in the Node, what a rookie oversight, apologies.

Many thanks again all

Wai
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Burn in time or running in time had a meaning when clunky motor cars were being built. It may have a little relevance with the mechanical elements of a loudspeaker , but none at all for the electronics.
However the concept does have meaning and it refers to the learning and adaptation occuring between the ears of the listener...in the grey stuff. We have a huge capacity to learn
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Thank you all very for your helpful replies.

Regarrding the speakers, I'm aware that they need to be at least 1 metre away from the wall, however, the bass ports are downfiring onto its own plinth and I can't really move it further forward than about 50 cms but I guess the fact that it's a downfiring bass port would distance from the wall shouldn't be so important. Does anyone have experience using acoustic panels?

Secondly, I want to clarify that that speakers sounded open when I audtioned the K3 and Cyrus at home which was before I purchased the Roksan Blaka hence my question about amp burn in, rather than speaker burn in.

Thirdly, did anyone have any views about potentially adding an MCQ certified DAC, i.e. would bypassing the Node's own inbuilt MCQ certfied DAC improve sound quality?

Lastly, I've managed to improve the sound a lot by tuning the treble and bass in the Node, what a rookie oversight, apologies.

Many thanks again all

Wai
By the way, I meant to say, I used to run a Mojo as my fixed DAC. I wouldn't recommend it personally. Good sound, but it's a bit of a pain when permanently plugged in. It runs very hot and makes (I kid you not, check about online) a slight high pitched noise. Chord say that this is normal, but once you've tuned in there's no way of tuning out! Had I been willing to spend that sort of money on my digital source again, I'd have got something designed for the job, like a node 2i.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I guess the fact that it's a downfiring bass port would distance from the wall shouldn't be so important.
There are two aspects to consider. Firstly, the positioning of the speaker's port really only matters when the port has less than a few inches clearance to the nearest surface. For example, when a rear ported speaker is positioned really close to a rear wall, then the port doesn't have sufficient space to vent unhindered. However, when the rear of the speaker cabinet is more than a few inches from a wall behind, then the port will work as intended, i.e. unhindered.

The second aspect concerns a speaker's boundary positioning. Solid surfaces affect a speakers bass performance - irrespective of whether the speaker is ported or otherwise. Even surfaces several feet away will impact bass performance:

 

Knox

Active Member
Amplifiers do sound slightly different with the same speakers in the same positions.
My Harmon Karden amplifier sounds 'warmer' than my Denon amplifier in the same situation.
They both sound better after warming up for a while though it could be me relaxing more and starting to enjoy the music.
 

Grumpsimus

Active Member
Burn in does have a meaning with electronic equipment, as part of the quality control process. Most electronic equipment will either fail early in its life, or run for years until it reaches the end of its working life. This applies to amps and is nothing to do with 'improving' the sound quality.
 

musicphil

Active Member
Below is an article from PS audio owner/designer

Is burn in real?
February 28, 2020 by Paul McGowan

I had to chuckle to myself. Sitting in our weekly meeting, where production engineers meet with design engineers, the topic of discussion was how to build a new burn-in rack and system for the upcoming M1200 monoblock amplifiers.

What made me laugh is all the time and money we’re spending setting up a rack whose only purpose is to make sure when owners first turn on their new amplifier it sounds right. That’s a bunch of needless expense if burn-in weren’t real.

In fact, the new M1200s require more burn-in time than any product we’ve yet manufactured. We’re still debating not the number of hours, but rather the number of days. The discussions even include what track of music to use for best results. Sound silly? Not really. The average energy level of reproduced music has a direct impact on the improvements we desire to make. A quiet musical piece wouldn’t be nearly as effective as a loud one.

Since we’re not in the habit of needlessly incurring expenses, those who doubt the efficacy of burn might be well served to take notice.

Burn-in matters.
 

Knox

Active Member
The Harmon Karden amplifier I'm using is over forty years old, it's not mine.
The Denon amplifier a mere thirty years old.
They have had enough burn in.

When I bought my Rotel RA - 04 amplifier I set it running for a day and a night to burn it in.
It did improve, enough that even I could hear it.
I've always run speakers to burn them in, seemed logical to do the same with amplifiers.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
The Harmon Karden amplifier I'm using is over forty years old, it's not mine.
The Denon amplifier a mere thirty years old.
They have had enough burn in.

When I bought my Rotel RA - 04 amplifier I set it running for a day and a night to burn it in.
It did improve, enough that even I could hear it.
I've always run speakers to burn them in, seemed logical to do the same with amplifiers.
It seems logical?. Look there is a value in soak testing electronic kit...early failures, poorly soldered joints fail within a few hours . There is even a value in burning in valve based amplifiers ..the emission characteristics of the valves change over a few hours ..and then to readjust or re calibrate before selling. There is even an advantage in running in loudspeakers ...the compliance of the suspensions increases as the rubber surrounds are flexed for a few hours . But there is no merit beyond that. Unfortunately the valves continue to alter their characteristics ,but at a slower rate The mechanism of these effects us known, but there is no physics supporting burn in of solid state devices .. beyond the early failures detection.
What there is is re-education of the ear brain of the listener. We are very capable of picking up difference or relative levels and adjust remarkably quickly
 
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dcjs01

Standard Member
I have never experienced anything that convinced me of burn in for solid state amps. Tube amps yes, speakers yes, even record deck cartridges. But solid state amps no. Where I have “run them in” it has been to try and catch early device failures especially on one manufacturer our sound mixing engineers were particularly keen on.
I have never found anything in theoretical physics or electronics that really supports the concept of solid state burn in either.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
As an electronic engineer my take on this is that amplifiers do not require "burn in". On first switching on, they will be cold and the biasing might be a little different to when they have warmed up. But this is only a matter of minutes. Once everything has settled to its design voltages then the amplifier will be running at it's best.
Nothing changes much after a week or so. Resistors and capacitors keep within tolerance and semiconductors are stable. Digital stuff is binary anyway.

So no to amplifiers but speakers are a different kettle of fish. Flexible materials will probably loosen up.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I've always run speakers to burn them in, seemed logical to do the same with amplifiers.
As I understand it, the 'burn-in' (or 'run-in') theory suggests that, following an initial period of usage, a device rapidly - relative to expected service life - reaches an optimum level of performance. The implication being this performance state remains until end-of-life failure.

Well, there is logic behind the 'burn-in' of mechanical components such as loudspeaker drive units (there's objective evidence of effectiveness too), and (possibly) cartridges but if it's logical to 'burn-in' non-mechanical devices, such as transistor amps, then where does this reasoning take us?

What about the sources and other components in the playback chain: PC/laptop/'phone, NAS, router, DAC, CD/DVD/SACD player, AV receiver, turntable, wifi/Bluetooth receiver etc. All these devices contain similar types of electronic components to transistor amplifiers so it's logical to 'burn-in' these devices too, right? All these devices carry the music signal, so perhaps a logical extension would be to 'burn-in' cables, inter-connects and adaptors. And why stop at electrical/electronic equipment? If a proven, objective, technical explanation cannot be given for the benefits of conducting a 'burn-in' on non-mechanical devices, then wouldn't it be logical to subject everything that could potentially affect sound quality to a form of 'burn-in' too?

Perhaps equipment supports, such as speaker stands, tables and furniture units that house the electronics would sound better after a vigorous physical workout (equivalent to 'burn-in)? Then there's the listening room itself....

Many, if not all, of the items mentioned can suffer age related performance deterioration through time and usage. But ageing is different to 'burn-in'. Ignoring both the initial and end-of-life failure of electronic components, the deterioration of most modern electronic components due to age and usage can cause a component to drift out of specification which could conceivably, depending on circuit design and other factors, lead to a gradual but marginal reduction in measured performance.

Practising 'burn in' will simply move a device a little further along the ageing process which ultimately ends in equipment failure.

Below is an article from PS audio owner/designer
...who is human and therefore susceptible to the biases that can affect the rest of us.
 

Deezell

Active Member
If an amplifier sounds 'different' after 30-40 runtime from new, then there is something wrong with it's design. If some component in the analogue chain is changing its value permanently after this short period, and the only reason for this change can be heat, vibration or operational mechanical stress on components, itself a product of heat expansion, then such an amp as this hasn't been designed properly, so this beloved notion of 'burn in', apart from being some kind of audiophile badge of honour to the new owner seeking validation for some ethereal and unmeasurable quality only possessed by his choice of equipment, is actually an indication that he's bought duff kit. Believe me, if you can hear a difference after after 40 hours, then it can be measured, in volts, amperes, seconds, etc. It's science, not magic.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
Believe me, if you can hear a difference after after 40 hours, then it can be measured, in volts, amperes, seconds, etc. It's science, not magic.
On HiFi forums and magazines like What HiFi the science has become lost. The magic- or capacity for audio journalists to write heaps and heaps of garbage has taken priority over measurement.

And guess what? The engineers who designed the amplifier, used science and measurement all the way through. Listening was at the very last part of the process.
 

Deezell

Active Member
When I worked for the National broadcaster in Ireland in the 80s, as a young audio engineer, the criteria were noise, frequency response, distortion, and phase. For turntables there was rumble, for transcription deck cartridges, adherence to equalization, stereo seperation and for tape decks, throw in wow and flutter. All measurable before you sent to the speakers, where all the colouration to the final sound appears, all other things being equal. Impedance matching of speakers was desirable, but not critical at audio frequencies, sub microsecond reflections down your £200 speaker cable (or 4 metres of decent mains flex) are simply not audible. I used to read What Hifi back then, and laugh out at the mystical descriptions of transcription deck transducers or cartridges, when the source was a lump of squashed vinyl with the imprint of the master disk on it. Rubbish in, rubbish out.
 

Knox

Active Member
Had this argument many times with my father, a radio and television engineer.
He pooh-poohed the idea of this mystification of electronics.
Claiming it was self deception, wishful thinking.
 

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