Listening fatigue

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speavler

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Listening fatigue
« on: 10 Dec 2022, 08:54 am »
Hello all. I'm posting this as I'm experiencing an new phenomenon for me - something I've heard referenced over the years but never really experienced.  I recently was fortunate enough to "retire" and have revisited my love for audio. I own a pair of Spatial M2 Turbos, my first foray into open baffle speakers, and I am HOOKED on the realism and three dimensionality of the sound.  About 8-10 years ago I went hyper-focused into my career and had no further time for hobbies, so most of my audio gear is of that vintage. Since I now have more time on my hands and the weather has turned colder, I've been listening to music for many hours a day. In typical "audiophile" style, I've tinkered with every aspect of my system and feel like I have my components fully dialed in to the best of their abilities. But one thing that has really weighed on me the past couple of weeks is the physiological impact on my ears. As I'm typing this, my ears have a sort of ringing and still throbbing feel at the end of the day.  They feel sore, almost like they need a massage and an ice pack. During my listening through the day, I feel an almost cramping feeling with my ears on some passages. These are all new experiences for me, so I'm trying to learn more on what may be causing this. I don't really listen at excessive volume. I mostly listen to folk, acoustic, and jazz. Zero headphone listening. I've been running the M2's with an old Sunfire stereo amp that had been recently re-capped and restored.  I also use an SET tube amp, but the experience seems to be the same. Preamp is a Cary tube unit. Denafrips DAC as a source. Anyway, I wondering if the compression drivers in the M2's is the culprit.  Maybe combined with the Sunfire 250 watt/channel. It seems Spatial wipes all info on older models from its website, for some reason. So I can't even find specs or much info on these speakers at all.  I'm considering picking up a pair of the Sapphire models that were released a couple of years ago which have a completely different tweeter.  I'd appreciate any thoughts on going this route and would like to know if anyone has experienced this sort of ear fatigue as well.


nlitworld

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #1 on: 10 Dec 2022, 11:39 am »
I have found myself in this situation a bit recently and I can attribute that feeling to 2 things. First, volume and time of listening all have an impact. I believe it's anything above 70db needs to be taken into account. Unless you have your music at elevator background music noise levels, it may be wise to take a day or two break. There's charts online with suggested rest periods for "x" amount of volume and duration. Second thing I found was sinus pressure in inner ears from cold, wet weather. For me recently, this was a much bigger cause of discomfort. If this could be the same for you, possibly look at a decongestant of sorts to dry things up in your head. Also trying to get your ears to pop much like that increased ear pressure from flying could really help as well. I really noticed the issue when listening to music that had lots of intense kick drum with that sharp, quick pressurization from the subs.

As for gear changes and the like, do whatever makes you happy. If this is an excuse for an upgrade, who am I to argue against that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

-Lloyd

AllanS

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #2 on: 10 Dec 2022, 12:36 pm »
  An interesting topic for sure.  We may be talking about different phenomena but I like your description of cramping.  I experience what I could describe the same way but it’s usually brought on by higher frequency content and can come on pretty quickly.  I also listen at modest volume.
  I’m still fairly early in my journey (at times feeling something akin to stage 3 in the 5 stages grief) so I haven’t begun to study listening fatigue but have picked up a couple of things I want to understand better that are said to contribute.  I’m sure there’s a more appropriate description, but I’ll refer to the most intriguing as room treatment related and maybe more specifically first reflections/psychoacoustics.  Without studying or understanding the details my basic understanding is the brain struggles to reconcile out of phase content which in and of itself is fatiguing.
 

radarnyc

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #3 on: 10 Dec 2022, 01:01 pm »
Spatial changed domains not too long ago as well. Just use the wayback time machine and find an index of the time period of your choice.
E.g https://web.archive.org/web/20200131120323/http://www.spatialaudio.us/
 

Mr. Big

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #4 on: 10 Dec 2022, 02:18 pm »
In my experience we can burn out with listening, I call it listening fatigue. When I go on a trip and have not heard my system in several days and when I turn on the system, I always go wow that sounds really good. Being away from the sounds really clears your mind and ears.

Some really listen hard to their systems with great focus and that takes its toll on you, others just relax and go with the music with less studying and looking to make changes and adjustments. One is more stressful the other more enjoyable.

genjamon

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #5 on: 10 Dec 2022, 02:18 pm »
I used to own the original M1’s, and there may be something to your compression driver suspicion. The M1’s were characteristically open and dynamic sounding, but there was a certain subtle hardness to the high frequencies I never could fully shake. Nothing obvious, but I found myself more and more disengaged with the sound the longer I listened. And I was using a Line Magnetic 845 tube amp, so it wasn’t bright electronics causing it. Daedalus speakers with their soft dome tweeter was what revealed that hardness in the M1’s to me.

The other area that could be a concern is your source. What are you using to feed the Denafrips? Digital front ends can make a big difference in getting past hardness in the sound. Natural and organic sounding digital is possible, but takes much care and often money in setting up.

ric

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #6 on: 10 Dec 2022, 02:51 pm »
Yeah, I don't know, it could be an age related problem as well. I own the M3TS and there was a time when I was experimenting with magnets in the signal path and the system got too bright, but it was just something I noticed, not related to listening fatigue. The question seems to be is it something external in your system or is it something internal having to do with hearing?
The compression driver on my M3's do not cause hearing fatigue for me, although I did upgrade the crossover parts and am using path audio resistors.
I agree, take a break, and come back to extended listening. Good luck!

RonN5

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #7 on: 10 Dec 2022, 03:03 pm »
I’d add that if your system produces deep bass and you listen with even moderate pressurization, even at the 1-2 hour point fatigue can set in… let alone listening loud in general… over 85db.

Mr. Big

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #8 on: 10 Dec 2022, 03:52 pm »
I think Peter Walker designer of the Quad speakers said it best, one should play only at the level where the recording clicks in anything after that you degrade the sonics, 2nd advice I got years ago from a musician, play your system like they are playing your room and its size/ I use both to this day and Peter Walker was dead on right.

WGH

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #9 on: 10 Dec 2022, 09:06 pm »
So I can't even find specs or much info on these speakers at all.  I'm considering picking up a pair of the Sapphire models that were released a couple of years ago which have a completely different tweeter.  I'd appreciate any thoughts on going this route and would like to know if anyone has experienced this sort of ear fatigue as well.

I have heard the Spatial M1 and M2 Turbo speakers at friends houses, they are not laid back. The Spatial compression driver reminded me of the Klipsch Quartet speakers I bought in 1991. I used the Klipsch in my woodshop for many, many years with an Adcom GTP400 preamp and GFA 535 amp combo, the sound was glorious. The source was a NAD 6340 cassette deck. The Adcom GFA 535 is still the definition of a perfect, affordable, musical solid state amp. The combination had beautiful synergy.

Over the years I "upgraded" the electronics and added a CD player, with each change the Klipsch had more ear fatigue until I sold them. I replaced the Klipsch with my original JBL L100 I bought new in 1970 and they sounded much better.


Quote
my first foray into open baffle speakers, and I am HOOKED on the realism and three dimensionality of the sound.

This week a friend needed a 2nd pair of ears to fine tune his stereo which consisted of Magnepan 1.7i and a REL S/510 sub woofer The S/510 replaced a REL T7/X which is -6dB at 30Hz, that sub didn't cut it at all with the Maggies which need bass to 20 Hz to balance the clear highs. The amp was a Pass First Watt F6, OMG what a combination to die for.

Still an open baffle sound with seamless bass to 20 Hz, although the Maggies absolutely need a sub and preferably a REL. The sound is the total opposite of listening fatigue.

Try the newer Spatial's and if they still don't work out there are other options.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spatial M2  v2  Specifications

Type:  Compact 2-way, point source, open-baffle, dynamic driver, controlled directivity
Chassis:  5 layer Aluminum Composite / MDF
Driver compliment:  Two 12 inch mid/woofers, one wide bandwidth compression driver
Crossover:  800Hz - Passive Hologram Network
Frequency Response:  43Hz - 20kHz  +/- 3dB
Sensitivity:  95dB (Version 2) at 4Ω  - averaged across 200Hz to 5kHz at 1M - on axis
Impedance:  4Ω nominal, 3 Ω minimum, low phase angle
Dimensions:  27T x 16W x 3D inches, 35 lbs.
20 year limited warranty


speavler

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #10 on: 11 Dec 2022, 08:07 am »
Thanks for everyone's input. I did some light listening today at 60 decibels playing DSD thru HDMI from my Sony SACD player to the Denafrips Pontus II. Just about 30 minutes of listening and still feeling ear soreness - more tenderness rather than soreness today, so maybe that's progress.  I think the first course of action is rest for a couple of days then I may swap in my Tekton Lore S's and just see if I have the same reaction, see if I can pin it down to the speakers or a component or cable up the signal path. Or could just be overall listening fatigue.
Just to fill in a couple of questions - my streaming source is a mac mini with audirvana and also an auralic aries mini I use as a backup with audirvana doesn't want to cooperate. I'm not hearing any digititus that I can tell.  I do have a custom built subwoofer which is capable of significant output - four 18" Fi audio subwoofers in an open baffle arrangement built in the crawlspace (below the 2nd level of a tri-level house) which fires into the family room (bottom level).  This is EQ'd with a Dspeaker antimode dual core. Total overkill for my typical listening but it pulls double duty for movie nights. I'll keep the sound level meter out to make sure I'm not pumping out more base than I think I am.

Letitroll98

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #11 on: 11 Dec 2022, 10:46 am »
I've never heard the speakers in question, so I'll try to be very reserved in my post here.  I'll just say that after looking at the specs I agree with trying à different set of speakers.  I believe you've found the problem.

Mr. Big

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #12 on: 11 Dec 2022, 02:47 pm »
I've never heard the speakers in question, so I'll try to be very reserved in my post here.  I'll just say that after looking at the specs I agree with trying à different set of speakers.  I believe you've found the problem.
[/quote

If you did not hear them how you can blame the speakers, I own them with no over-brightness issues unless the recording is processed so badly and recorded with no thought of sound quality, and they suck on any quality speaker. No one can call Quad Electrostatic speakers bright, but they could sound like crap on recordings. Room acoustics matter also as well as cabling a good speaker just gives you what you feed them. 

Early B.

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #13 on: 11 Dec 2022, 03:29 pm »
Well, the OP hasn't ruled out if his issue is strictly health-related and has nothing to do with his system. He mentioned that 30 minutes of listening at only 60dB caused ear soreness. There may be something deeper going on. A visit to an audiologist can provide more insight than we can. 

Desertpilot

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #14 on: 11 Dec 2022, 04:31 pm »
Well, the OP hasn't ruled out if his issue is strictly health-related and has nothing to do with his system. He mentioned that 30 minutes of listening at only 60dB caused ear soreness. There may be something deeper going on. A visit to an audiologist can provide more insight than we can.

I agree.  I've had a couple audiologist checkups (especially because I'm over 71).  As an aside, I honestly did the checkups to prove to my wife (and myself) that buying the X3s was not a waste of money.  Health insurance should cover it and you get great information about your hearing frequency range.  I've never heard of listening fatigue as painful.  I always thought of it as your brain telling you it's tired from reconciling all the reflections or certain frequencies that are not correctly reproduced.

Marcus

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #15 on: 11 Dec 2022, 05:23 pm »
PM sent.

WGH

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #16 on: 11 Dec 2022, 05:51 pm »
I do have a custom built subwoofer which is capable of significant output - four 18" Fi audio subwoofers in an open baffle arrangement built in the crawlspace (below the 2nd level of a tri-level house) which fires into the family room (bottom level).

The plot thickens...

Have you experimented with turning the subs off? Four 18" subs sounds like there could be a lot of infrasonic sound. You will not hear it but eardrums will feel it, those little guys may be overworked.

RPM123

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #17 on: 11 Dec 2022, 06:16 pm »
You may be experiencing tinnitus brought on by certain frequencies and volume levels and your speakers could be emphasizing those frequencies. A trip to an ENT specialist or audiologist should be considered.

genjamon

Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #18 on: 11 Dec 2022, 06:41 pm »
Just to fill in a couple of questions - my streaming source is a mac mini with audirvana and also an auralic aries mini I use as a backup with audirvana doesn't want to cooperate. I'm not hearing any digititus that I can tell.

When I had the M1 and experience the hardness and listening fatigue, it was in 2015, and I started out with a stock 2012 Mac Mini running Audirvana, and then moved to the Auralic Aries with their upgraded power supply, and the Mac Mini then served simply as music server to the Aries.  I later found significant improvements going to the Sonore microRendu, then upgraded to the ultraRendu.  After doing so, I upgraded all power supplies on my home network to high quality linear power supplies with notable improvements in warmth and resolution of the system.  I further added a Buffalo BS-GS2016 ethernet switch running from an audiophile quality power supply between home modem/router and the ultraRendu.  I also have played with fiber connections via FMC's to break the chain of noise riding the network's copper ethernet connections.  Each of these streamer and network changes was met with a simultaneous increase in both resolution and warmth.  They are not without their learning curves, implementation headaches, and costs, but they all serve to reduce edginess in treble that you often don't even know is there. 

I'm not saying improvements to your current setup would definitively solve your listening fatigue, but it might, or it might be part of a solution. 

I like the idea of shifting back to your Tekton Lore S for a bit too.  I am a Tekton Lore owner since 2010, and have upgraded the crossovers to much higher parts quality with attendant sonic improvements.  I also temporarily swapped with a guy for his Tekton Lore S around 2014 for a few weeks, so have a sense of the character of the Lore S.  If my memory serves, the character of the Lore S, especially in the highs, should be a pretty decent contrast to the M2 and decent test whether the fatigue will lessen or go away with a change in speakers. 

Mr. Big

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Re: Listening fatigue
« Reply #19 on: 11 Dec 2022, 07:37 pm »
I've heard bad speakers and systems way too loud, and I never experienced what this gentleman is experiencing. I get to an ear doctor ASAP. I have been to concerts that were deafening the loudest Eric Clapton back in the late 70s. I have pushed by sapphires a few times on good recordings and zero issues, just dam can these speakers push pressure and sound out with no strain or distortion.