At Cambridge Audio, we strive to achieve the ultimate performance from every product we offer. From the powerful DACs in (and out for that matter) our amps to the software intricacies in our AVRs, we leave no room for error in getting the best out of our equipment to improve your enjoyment. The only thing we can’t help you with (as much as we’d REALLY like to) is running in your brand spanking new set of speakers.
Why do I need to run in my speakers?
Running in your new speakers is a lot like breaking in a recently purchased pair of shoes. Bear with us on this! it’s not necessary to wear in your new shoes, as you’ll no doubt wear them in overtime. But if you want full enjoyment from the word go, you probably should. Perhaps we should take on the footwear market next?
So enough about shoes, here’s the mechanics on getting your brand new pride and joys at their optimum performance straight out of the box...
We start with the diaphragm or cone of the speaker (that’s the material surrounding the dust cap); it has coils that drive it to produce the vibrations of air to your ears. Secondly is the spider, which is the fabric disk attached to the ‘voice-coil’ and base of the cone and provides a spring for the cone to return to its original position after the voice coil has moved it from responding to the input signal.
When running in your speakers you are effectively stretching out the spider fabric from the constant back and forth movements allowing it to be more flexible and free. Much like when you’re wearing in your new shoes, you’re stretching them out to match the shape of your foot. Don’t worry, the footwear analogies will end shortly. This flexibility will allow the speaker to create a smoother and more pleasant sound with the correct amount of bass.
How do I run-in my speakers?
The most basic way to run in your speakers is to set them up with your system and use them normally. Usually the speakers will be sufficiently run in after a total of 20-30 hours of normal use and they will often continue to develop and improve for the first hundred or so hours.
There is however a slightly more convenient and quicker way to achieve the same result without having to annoy the neighbours for a whole weekend.
Firstly, position your speakers facing each other with about an inch of distance between them and connect them to the amplifier as normal. Then simply reverse the polarity on one of the speakers. This means that at one end of the speaker cable on either the left or right channel, you swap the positive or negative connections over. (See diagram)
Reversing the polarity and playing the speakers facing each other helps them cancel each other out, meaning you will only be able to hear the highs so you don’t have to vibrate your room with bass. This gives you the ability to increase the volume and bass thus increasing the movement in your drivers to improve the running in process. This isn’t an excuse to crank it up to 11 however, we recommend keeping the volume at only a little higher than listening level. Playing at high volumes can damage the speakers and also overheat the amp if done for an extended amount of time.
You will often read lots of disputes on the internet over how long you should run in speakers for and honestly... there isn’t a definitive answer. Our advise to run them in for approximately 36 hours.
What do I play to run-in my speakers?
As for what to play out of your speakers, that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. Some people will advise you to download specific mp3 packs which are specialised for breaking in a speaker with each song containing 30 seconds of an ultra low bass or super high frequency sound effect (and there’s nothing wrong with that method) but at Cambridge Audio we prefer to use what the speakers were intended for in the first place... music! Once you've ran in your speakers really put them through their paces with our speaker testing tracks playlist, compiled by the Cambridge Audio engineers. Check out the full blog on the reasons behind these tracks here
Are we missing any tracks that are simply perfect for running in speakers? Know another method we haven’t covered here? Make sure you let us know in the comments below!