“Car Speakers Need Breaking in” – Myth or Fact?




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When you first buy your car or if you had just purchased new car speakers, there is a common belief that you first have to break them in for them to work properly later on.

It’s similar to how your new shoes need some breaking in first so that they would adjust to the usual movements of your feet while also allowing your feet to adjust to the shoes. While breaking in your shoes is a common fact, do car speakers need breaking in?

Your car speakers need to be broken in. That’s a fact because car speakers are made of parts that constantly move to produce sounds. When they are new, they haven’t actually moved before, and they need to be broken in so that the moving parts will function efficiently.

Having your car speakers sound really well should be one of the main goals of getting new car speakers.

But, just like how shoes need to be broken in to perform better, you need to break in your car speakers. And that is why we are here to discuss the things you should know about breaking in your car speakers and whether or not there really is a need for you to do so.

Do speakers need a break-in?

You might have experienced buying new shoes and experiencing some sort of discomfort at the start, especially if you are talking about leather shoes. That’s because the leather needs to be broken in so that it would adjust to the usual movements of your feet.

do car speakers need breaking in

Before that, the leather or even the rubber on the shoes feel stiff and are not used to the movements you make whenever you are walking or running. In some cases, the break-in period also requires your feet to adjust to the shoes themselves as well.

The same break-in period also applies to car speakers.

It might sound odd at first because car speakers and shoes aren’t exactly in the same species. But it makes sense if you study more about what makes up a standard car speaker or any other speaker, for that matter.

When you look at a shoe, there are different components that all add up together to make the shoe work. These components need to adjust to your feet’ movements and shape because they are still very stiff at first.

You are talking about the upper material, the outsole, the insole, and the heels. All those require breaking in at first as you wear your shoes more and more while moving more and more while wearing them.

So, when you look at a speaker, it doesn’t have the same components, but the same rules apply.

That’s because speakers are also made up of individual components that actually move while using the speakers. Well, you aren’t necessarily wearing the speakers but turning them on and using them already moves those individual components.

Like a shoe, individual parts of the speakers are still very stiff at first and won’t be able to function well enough if they are yet to adjust to the usual movements they are supposed to be making when playing.

First off, when we talk about the speaker’s individual components, we have to start with the voice coil, which is at the center of the car speaker.

The voice coil moves up and down whenever electrical currents pass through it to send signals. These movements create the vibrations of the cone that, in effect, produce different sounds. It creates a negative pressure in the air when it moves inwards and a positive force in the air when it moves outwards.

If you look at the coil and how it moves, you would understand that this component needs breaking in for it to move better and smooth. The more fluid a diaphragm moves according to the polarity of the music you are playing, the more efficient and clearer the sounds will be.

Next up is the spider, which is the disk that connects a voice coil with the cone.

It is technically the spring that allows the coil to move back to its original place if it moves inward or outward, depending on the input signal that is coming from the amplifier. So, it also needs to be broken in for better movements because it acts as a spring. 

Think of it as how you would take some time to adjust to a new spring mattress because you have to make the individual springs adjust to the up and down movements you are making while you are on your bed.

Or, if you prefer a footwear analogy, you can think of how the spider requires to be continuously stretched, just like shoes need to be moved so that they can also extend to match the shape and individual parts of your feet. The more flexible the spider is, the smoother the sounds your speakers will make.

There are also other smaller individual components found in a speaker, and they also need to be broken in for the speaker to work better. The fact is that your car speakers do indeed need a break-in period.

how to breaking in car speakers

Why do I need to break in my speakers?

Now that you are aware that speakers require a breaking in period, you might be asking why there is a need for you to break in your car speaker in the first place.

Well, for starters, breaking in your car speaker will allow it to function and perform much more fluidly so that the music and the quality of the sounds coming out of it will feel more natural. On top of that, a speaker that has been broken in will function more efficiently, just like how your feet will feel much more comfortable in shoes you have used for a few weeks.

Once again, let us go back to the important individual moving components that make up a car speaker if you want to understand how important is for you to break in your car speakers.

If you are looking at the voice coil and notice how it works whenever you are using your car speaker or any other speaker for that matter, you would see how often it moves in and out depending on the type of sound produced by the speakers.

The individual in and out movements that the voice coil creates is dependent on the speakers’ polarity and type of pressure that is supposed to be made by music or sounds you are playing.

Think of it this way. Suppose you are playing the drums, and you strike a drum. The surface of the drum will move inward or downward the moment you strike it.

This will create a negative pressure in the surrounding air. Meanwhile, as the surface of the drum pops back up, this movement creates a positive pressure in the surrounding air. These movements create a vibrating sound in the air that adds life and texture to the sound of a drum.

So, when you are playing music or any kind of sound on your speakers, the voice coil will constantly move the speaker’s cone, depending on the created soundwave length.

This constant movement creates a vibrating sound that adds appeal and bass to your music, thereby giving it more depth and life.

In addition to that, it is the spider (suspension) that acts as the spring that allows the speaker’s entire cone to pop back in its place whenever it moves, depending on the music’s soundwaves. 

Suspension allows the cone to move in and out fluidly and effectively as you play music on your speaker.

At this point, it is needless to say that the cone and the spring are moving components that need to be moving constantly and effectively the entire time when you are playing music from your car speakers. Just like how your car needs its individual moving components to be in top shape by actually using the car and keeping it well-oiled, your speaker also needs to be used for it to be working efficiently.

So, if you want your speakers to be working efficiently, you have to make sure that the individual components that often move to produce the sounds and vibrations coming from the speakers are have been broken in. 

The only way for you to do so is to make sure that you often use the car speakers by playing music while driving.

What is the best way to break in my speakers?

If you are looking to break in your speakers, we have mentioned that the only way you do so is by using them.

It’s kind of similar to how you have to wear your shoes and walk with them for you to break them in. The most basic way to break your car speakers is to use them consistently while you are driving. Listen to music by hooking the speakers up with your phone, and after some time, speakers will start working more efficiently and without risk of being damaged.

However, suppose you want to make the entire process slightly easier and more convenient for you. In that case, there are several ways to speed up the breaking in period so that you don’t have to annoy your passengers with the music.

Play dynamic music

The first way to speed up the breaking in period is by playing something with a large dynamic range in terms of its sound quality.

This means that you have to play music with deep bass and a different array of strong sounds to ramp up your car speakers’ different movements. Music like hip-hop or rock, will do the trick.

Reverse speakers’ polarity

Meanwhile, the second way you can speed up the breaking in process is a bit more technical than that.

You can reverse the speakers’ polarity by connecting the positive wire from the amplifier over to the car speakers’ negative terminal and then doing the same with the negative wire by hooking it up with the positive terminal.

Inverting your car speakers’ polarity will allow you to break in your speakers faster because the bass and the sound quality won’t be as good as it is.

That means that you can ramp up the volume without producing a ton of bass and music to the point that it might annoy people around you. So, in this case, there is actually a benefit in reversing your speakers’ polarity, although it might take more effort to do the wiring.

How long will it take for me to break in my car speakers?

As long as you are using your car speakers regularly whenever you drive, the break-in period wouldn’t matter because you often wouldn’t notice how the music quality has changed. Especially when your ears have been gradually adjusting to the speakers’ sounds every single time you play your music while you are on the road, sound changes are not noticeable.

The changes will most likely be negligible to your ears, but it will be noticeable for someone who isn’t always listening to your car speakers.

However, if you want to count the hours it would take for breaking in your car speakers, it will most likely be somewhere around 20 to 30 hours of playing time. If you often stay on the road for two hours a day, that would take a little more than a week at the minimum. But if you don’t spend a lot of time on the road, especially when you live quite near to every place you may want to go to, it might take more than that.

After the initial break-in period of about 20 to 30 hours, the car speakers will continue developing for another around 100 hours of use. That means that you may notice them getting better and better with time as long as you use them regularly.

Do speakers sound better after breaking in?

After what we have discussed, it is easy to say that speakers do indeed sound better after the initial breaking in period.

It’s similar to how your shoes will be more flexible and more comfortable to walk in after breaking them in.

To quickly recap why your car speakers will sound better after breaking in, let’s go back to the fact that the different moving parts in your speakers need to move more effectively and efficiently, after not being used before you purchased your car or your car speakers.

The best way for you to get the components to move better is by constantly using them until they have adjusted to the regular movements they make when you are playing music through your car speakers.

Think of it as similar to your own body. Upon waking up from a long sleep, you naturally won’t be able to move well for a while because your muscles are yet to warm up. But, as you stretch your muscles out and move more and more throughout the day, your body will begin to loosen up, and you will feel stronger and more flexible. 

So, imagine your muscles as the individual moving components found in your car speakers.

The more time you give them to loosen up as they move around while you are playing music, the more smooth their movements will be.

And when they move more efficiently, the quality of the sounds your car speakers will produce will gradually change over time until they have reached their peak somewhere around more than a hundred hours of use.

The fact and importance of breaking in your car speakers

So, all in all, the belief that car speakers need a breaking in period is actually a fact. It is not a mere myth that audiophiles would like to believe as their ears gradually adjust to the quality of sound their car speakers produce.

Instead, it is a fact that is rooted in the simple mechanics of how the individual components inside your car speakers work.