Originally Posted by odigg
A lot of times these concepts like "natural" and sometimes even "neutral" really boil down to the sound signature you are used to. If you listen to any comfortable and technically competent headphone for long enough, it starts sounding natural and perhaps even neutral. That's the beauty of the human brain and its plasticity.
Also, I believe a lot of the "burn-in" process is not so much about the hardware burn-in but really the human brain being adjusted to the new phones. Once one gets adjusted to a new pair of phones, one starts believing in a lot of the positives of the new phone, but I believe it's just the brain having converted over. The human brain is able to adapt and adjust to an exorbitant degree.
I would almost argue that if one goes back to a previous pair of 'phones and listens to that older pair exclusively for two weeks, one would adjust back to hearing all the positives of the previous pair of 'phones as one would have adjusted/converted back to the sonic signature of the older 'phones.
probably says it better:
So I thought it’s my brain that has to “burn in” to the SM3’s sound signature instead – because I just couldn’t believe anyone would design an IEM on purpose that sounds so bad right out of the box. There must be more to it… and boy, there indeed is. It just needed some time until I ‘understood’ the SM3. It took me almost a month until I had to acknowledge to myself that they’re far from being a piece of junk, and actually quite the opposite: they’re some real reference monitors, all serious business – yet they’re rather ‘musical’ at that, if not euphonic sounding.
Of course I fully admit I'm a total greenhorn. I'm no audiophile; I'm not even a pretend-audiophile. Take my comments with as much grains of salt as you please.