How Do the Big Guys Break In Their Speakers??

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by jokerjkny, Oct 15, 2003.


  1. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    I was wondering,

    we, minons to tone. have to slave thru hours and hours of playing time to finally break our new speakers in.

    are there amp builder secrets to breaking in speakers, that us mortals dont know about? care to share? :)
     
  2. Fuchsaudio

    Fuchsaudio Supporting Member

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    I know of two:

    One is chemical treatment to the surrounds, which loosens them up, and makes the cones move a little more readily. This is like a chemical break-in, instead of a mechanical break-in. I think mineral spirits are the drug of choice. Maybe Ted Weber could chime in and give his thoughts, as the views on the how's and why's of doing this vary. Like anything, it can be overdone and doesn't seem easy to undo.

    The other method involves the use of a variac. This is basically a variable transformer for the AC power line. This allows you to put a low voltage AC signal through the speaker, which breaks-in the voice coil wire, and flexes the speaker suspension. It's easier than using an amp and a signal generator, but requires owning a variac and knowing how to use it. You basically get a "free" 60 hz signal, and you can set it for a given power level. The theory is that your excersizing the suspension, breaking the wire in, and speeding the break-in process.

    The chemical method has dangers (exposing yourself to all kinds of toxic crap), and the variac method can kill you, if you don't know what your doing.

    Some vendors (THD comes to mind) also perform their own top-secret process on speakers to personalize them, but I don't know what the process is.

    The other factor to changing a speakers tone and response is the magnet strength tends to decline (although subtle) over time, and I don't know how you could replicate this, or know how much or how little to alter this. Weber de-magnetizes then re-magnetizes the magnets when he recones speakers. I think Ted is one of the few reconers who has this capability. This allows you to return a speaker to as-new magnetism, as well as allowing you to clean out the voice coil of anything the magnetism might have held there.
     
  3. AlNelson

    AlNelson Guest

    A third method is FM radio.
    The range of frequencies in music, instead of just a fixed frequency tone, are thought by some to be a better way to break in new cones. Plus, the content on FM radio is highly compressed which limits speaker excursion and radical transients. You'll need an isolation box for this method.

    I've also heard that some gentle bass playing can speed up the break-in process.
     
  4. Braciola

    Braciola Silver Supporting Member

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    I hook up my Boss Jam Station to my stereo system then into the speaker cabinet.

    What ever method you choose, it is very important to start with the volume low, then say about every 20 minutes raise the volume a little.
     
  5. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    I think Ted recommends using the variac to provide lower voltage to a filament transformer and then using the output of the transformer to drive the speaker.

    I play CDs through mine and I pound on them with my amps/guitars. Seems to work.
     
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  6. KLB

    KLB Member

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    I once worked at a dry cleaner and got my fill of mineral spirits.
    I think I'll leave the chemicals in the bottle where they belong!

    Here is an online calculator for determining the voltage setting for the 1/3 power Variac method, which I use:

    http://www.unclespot.com/speakerbreakin.html

    I would guess that many players give up on a new speaker too soon, when it simply needs more time for breakin.

    I recently heard a well broken-in reissue Jensen C12N in a friend's combo. I didn't like this speaker when I installed it a few years ago. He kept using it, and now the high end is rather sweet, where it was harsh at first.

    - Ken
     
  7. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    You know what? Just use it as a reason to play more (to break it in).
    Listening to a Celestion Blue break in, you think it doesn't get any better than this then it does....

    Pete.
     
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  8. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    Ron (Uncle Spot) also uses a filament transformer with the variac, as I said Ted recommends. I do not think they suggest using the variac directly...
     
  9. Amitar

    Amitar Member

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    I'm no speaker guru but I would say the only real way to break in speakers is to play the heck out of them. Any other way just doesn't seem right.
     
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  10. guitarman_1

    guitarman_1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I dont post a lot, but i do know a neat way to break speakers in.
    use a frequency spectrum disc that is all white noise at different
    frequencies and levels, put in your cd player, plug the cab to your
    stereo and set the player to play disc on repeat. do this when you go to work and stop when you get home. about 7 days of this and you will be set. you dont need to set the volume too high. this is the prefered way in high end audio to break in speakers.

    :)
     
  11. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    Hey, guys, I have the best way to break in speakers.

    Just allow your guitar playing teenager to play hardcore rock/punk music on your cab each day, gradually increasing the volume from, oh, nuclear meltdown, to full armageddon, and finally, to Big Bang volume levels.

    Hold onto your fillings. And your gonads. Well, I guess it's hard to hold both at the same time and be comfortable. Best of luck with the choice, anyway.

    In a very short time your speakers will be completely broken in. The smoldering in your cab will stop after about a week or so. After a while, you get used to the smell.

    This is guaranteed to be faster than CDs.

    By the way, if you don't happen to have a guitar playing teenager, you can always rent one with a guitar pretty cheap. ;)
     
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  12. Amitar

    Amitar Member

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    I would never leave my tube amp on unattended for an extended period of time.
     
  13. FlyingVBlues

    FlyingVBlues Gold Supporting Member

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    Amitar -- in this method you connect your speakers to a stereo system and run the CD. The amp isn't on. I use the Purist Audio Design Burn-In & Demag Gold REV B CD for this and it works really well.

    FVB
     
  14. Hipster Dofus

    Hipster Dofus Member

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  15. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    I've always been dubious of claims that certain speakers need weeks worth of break-in to sound good. My experience is that if a speaker sounds awful when you first get it, it's an awful speaker. I haven't noticed HUGE changes in a speaker. It seems that most speakers I have played through that are good, sound good right away. They may improve slightly over the break-in period but I just don't buy into the 3-4 week break-in period that some folks claim is necessary.

    <ducking whilst the claims of "sticking to jazz guitar" come flying> :D
     
  16. Robal

    Robal Supporting Member

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    I also use the Purist Audio CD. Works not only on the speakers but the electronics of the amp too. And it's "an amp builder secret" too.
     
  17. Robal

    Robal Supporting Member

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    DrRico: What would be the difference between using a Variac set to low AC and using a filiment transformer putting out low AC volts? For a 100 watt rated 16 ohm speaker, Ron's calculator says around 20 volts, which a Variac could certainly do; that is well above the voltage of a typical filament transformer. I think Ron's use of the filament transformers is in the context of low wattage speakers, where you only need 5-6 volts AC. I used a Variac straight to the speaker, with a Fluke meter attached to monitor the volts, when I needed 23 volts to do the break in my Harry Joyce speaker. Worked fine.
     
  18. Fuchsaudio

    Fuchsaudio Supporting Member

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    It's good insurance against someone possibly whacking a speaker with too many volts by accident or ignorance.
    My guess anyway.
     
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  19. Uncle Spot

    Uncle Spot Member

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    Dr.Rico, you posted:
    "Ron (Uncle Spot) also uses a filament transformer with the variac, as I said Ted recommends. I do not think they suggest using the variac directly..."

    ...actually I, personally, have never used a filament transformer on a speaker (yet)
    When I was at the Weber Speaker site in Kokomo, IN 3½ yrs ago I asked Ted how HE broke in speakers - he said MOST of the time with a filament transformer, but occasionally with a Variac... I had never heard of this before, 'thought it would send the cone and voice coil 'across the room'... Ted said to "do the math" (how much voltage = what wattage) and he did the 'conversion section' that I have on my website. The filament transformer is used just to check if you have a voice coil rub... With a Variac you can REALLY "push the limits" (if you want).
    The 'trick' with the Variac is - it HAS to be able to go to ZERO volts. I had several Variacs, and got rid of most of them when I got back to my shop. For ALL speaker check-outs I use a Staco 3PN1010V, or Powerstat 3PN116B.

    Ted asked me, "How do YOU check speakers when you do a recone?" I said I just hoist it up in the rafters at the shop and play a CD thru a high wattage amp - like ZZTop, BBKing or Albert, then go for a LONG lunch...
    He said, "Yeah, and when you get back you might have the cops waiting for you... With a Variac ALL you hear is a 60cycle hum IF the speaker is healthy. AND the only people you 'annoy' is someone that's within 25 ft. of the speaker." It WORKS GREAT!
    Sonic regards, Ron (Uncle Spot)
     
  20. Dr Rico

    Dr Rico Member

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    Thanks for the clarification, Ron! Musta misremembered the dialog at Ted's place. I personally use the play the snot outta them approach and supplement with loud CD beatings, but I have also used the filament tranny and it works great, just annoying to listen to.
     

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