You Want New Headphones To Sound Horrible Out of the Box


Having recently purchased a pair of higher end headphones for my wife, I quickly realized an important point.  Your brand new headphones no matter how expensive or cheap they are will sound muffled and dead the first time you put them on.

Here is the reason why they do not sound good off the bat.  The drivers/speakers on your headphones are made of some sort of paper, whether it be silica, kevlar, or some resilient paper, its stiff from the factory.  Sound is generated when this paper moves back and forth.  Since it is brand new, the paper has not moved enough to soften up or become more flexible.  It takes a bit of a “workout” for the paper to become flexible.

How does one make this paper flexible?  Well there are many ways and beliefs.  Ideally you want to have a music source with a lot of dynamic range (high bass, high treble for example) to be played at normal listening volume for a few days.  You don’t want to just let the music blasting full volume right off the bat.  Think of lifting weights.  To build muscle, you slowly start off with little weight and then build up to your desired weight.  You really don’t want to start off with 500 lbs of weight if you have never benched press in your life before.

So why did I say what I did in my title?  Well, if your headphones sound perfect out of the box, chances are they have been used.  Someone probably bought it, turned it on and realized that the sound sucks.  They did not give the headphones a chance to “break-in” before returning them.  It just happens with all their testing by the time you got them the headphones have already began the break-in process thus shortening the time to sound good.  Unfortunately, that $300 pair of headphones are used and not new.