What causes listening "fatigue"? - diyAudio
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Old 6th April 2008, 09:01 AM   #1
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Default What causes listening "fatigue"?

If I go to an audio store that carries mostly $1,000+ per pair speakers I would expect most to at least be fairly pleasant to listen to. But, at least 9 out of 10 of these (and other) speakers I've heard do not draw me into the music, do not soothe me when I hear them, and, more often than not, are so poor sounding to me that I usually want to turn them off in a mater of minutes.

I don't know if something in me has changed now that I'm old compared to when I was 20-something and before, I loved listening to all kinds of music even on my cheap-o bookshelf speakers. Now, each time I try, it's not pleasant, I end up giving up quickly and turning it off.

I still enjoy the sound of live instruments though, and I like watching movies (and listening to the soundtracks while I watch them). I love the sound of a good home theater audio setup and am consistantly impressed by good DTS (or DD) 5.1 sound tracks playbed back through my Onkyo TX-DS787 reciever - it's simply awesome for DVD playback. But, other than being able to play loud and clear, I always feel like something is missing (besides my hearing) when listening to music using it.

Surely, some of the displeasure is because my hearing isn't as good as it used to be, but that's not the only thing.

What do you guys think usually causes "listening fatigue"? This is a term that I never heard being used 20 years ago, but, I think I've seen it tossed about frequently for the past several years. It seems that speakers have become more fatiguing over recent years, perhaps? Almost as if a flat FR doesn't make our ears happy, it seems, however senseless that may sound...

I just want to say AHHHH..., sit down, relax, and be drawn into music again, for it to be soothing, and pleasant. Will I have to get a crappy pair of two-way paper cone bookshelf speakers and rumage around garage sales to find another old 2 channel tube amp before my ears can be at peace again?

On this and other forums, I read all kinds of gushing and praising of this and that (DIY) speaker - I have got to go to some DIY-fest type event and hear some of these speakers for myself...
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Old 6th April 2008, 10:30 AM   #2
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Hi critofur

Not having the answers to your questions, I must admit that I feel the same as you do.....

It has always been my opnion that "sound" is very individual, and that changes over the years. The same does your hearing.....

Also if we listen to the same audio setup at home every day, I think our hearing sense adjusts to that sound. Listening to a new speaker (with different crossover frequencies and anothter spl for the different units in the speaker) will deviate from what we are used to, and maybe therefore cause us to dislike these?

Also our ears chages over the years. I know my ears have got some drops on certain frequencies, and maybe this also plays a role.......

Also there are personal preferences.....
I like clean but dynamic sound. I like when my gear is like a sportscar, just ask for me to turn up (pedal to the metal in the sportscar)

Why does most people like the sound of tube amps, when they got >1% distortion ? In a tube amp the distortion is mostly 2nd harmonic, and this does not provoke our senses.......
So zero distortion is not the goal. The goal must be to create something that is pleasant to listening to, and let the measurement come in second.
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Old 6th April 2008, 10:32 AM   #3
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"It seems that speakers have become more fatiguing over recent years, perhaps? " - I don't think so, more likely that more people have become more aware of what they're listening to.
To my mind, listening fatigue is caused by stressing the ears with distortion, usually the result of excessive volume, and/or components that are badly designed...
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Old 6th April 2008, 10:41 AM   #4
MaVo is offline MaVo  Germany
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I believe listening fatique in this context to be just another salesman invention to sell highend gear. It is normal that one needs to turn his speakers down after some time. This is the same with every speaker. BUT, taste is subjective - so a good speaker from a designers point of view must not be a good speaker for you or me. So it boils down to listen to different speakers and get the one you like, ignoring what critics say about it.
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Old 6th April 2008, 11:04 AM   #5
BHTX is offline BHTX  United States
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Peaky or uneven freq response, distortion of different types, the recording, room acoustics, etc.

..That's what usually seems to cause it for me, anyway.
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Old 6th April 2008, 11:10 AM   #6
Dan2 is offline Dan2  South Africa
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Being a student a don't have tons of money to buy buy speakers and amps etc. but i have a decent set of speakers in my room and a decent sound system in my car.

thing is they sound completely different - not better or worse, just completely different - so after listening to my room speakers and i start hearing the frequencies that it lacks - i jump in my car and that sounds awesome!!! then i hear the imperfections of that system, so i start listening in my room again and i am amazed at how good my room speakers sound again.

So go buy a hi fi that says "PMPO" on it somewhere and force yourself to listen to that - then go back to your old system
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Old 6th April 2008, 11:17 AM   #7
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What causes listener fatigue? The answer to that is primarily "Distorsion". The ear and brain are very sensitive and cleaver instruments, so much so that when the Brain decides that the sound is not realistic and not pleasant to listen to, it creates and uncomfortable zone. For example, when bodybuilding, one can only do so many repetitions of a weight before lactic acid takes effect. The lactic acid tells the the brain and then the muscles that you can no longer proceed. Same with sound.
As for speakers being $1000, I would also hint kindly at the suggestion that these speakers would contribute enormously to the "distorsion" that is received, however the all the parts in an audio system all act as one.

Hope I have been helpful
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Old 6th April 2008, 11:32 AM   #8
poldus is offline poldus  Europe
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Having gotten more and more prone to listening fatigue throughout the years I tried an stereo dipole as per ambiophonics: speakers close to each other and a barrier in between extending to the listener´s position.

After a couple of years I can no longer stand the ominous sight of the huge barrier dividing the room and taking so much space.
I have traded listening fatigue for claustrophobia.

Return to the old traditional stereo, you say? No way, this is the only way I can listen to music for hours and get that enjoyable, soothing effect somebody mentioned before.

So I am currently working on installing a crosstalk canceller digital chip between cd player and amp that will give me both the good sound and a room to live in.
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Old 6th April 2008, 11:49 AM   #9
tinitus is offline tinitus  Europe
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Very thin sound with no bass or BSC leads to listening fatigue
Too much BSC and heavy bass is a problem too
Phase may be an issue
Amp problems
The choise of music
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Old 6th April 2008, 11:52 AM   #10
BHTX is offline BHTX  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by poldus
Having gotten more and more prone to listening fatigue throughout the years I tried an stereo dipole as per ambiophonics: speakers close to each other and a barrier in between extending to the listener´s position.

After a couple of years I can no longer stand the ominous sight of the huge barrier dividing the room and taking so much space.
I have traded listening fatigue for claustrophobia.

Return to the old traditional stereo, you say? No way, this is the only way I can listen to music for hours and get that enjoyable, soothing effect somebody mentioned before.

So I am currently working on installing a crosstalk canceller digital chip between cd player and amp that will give me both the good sound and a room to live in.
Jeez. Ever considered headphones?

Or.. Carver C-9 Sonic Hologram Generator.

edit: Actually, I'm quite interested in that 'chip' u mention, for doing it digitally rather than analog. Have a link or something?
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