What causes listening "fatigue"?

Status
This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.
I bet room effects are causing listening fatigue by comparison.

In an open space like a park or a field, unless it is loud we have a great tolerance for harsh sounds and noise. In a house with hard surfaces and limited space some frequencies produce annoying reverberation which some types of music produces more than others.

A too blurry sound or too 'detailed' harsh sound also cause imbalance and fatigue from processing the signal in the mind.
 
I wanted to add some results from a paper that I reviewed recently for JAES.

The authors looked at brain activity while listening to a common music passage through differing headphones. The "flatter" the headphones response was the lower the brain activity. This strongly supports the idea that poor frequency response can lead to fatigue as the brain has to work harder to make sense of the sound signals it is receiving.
 
Wonderful post to read. I see you are espousing the Helmholtz "unconscious inference" point of view in perception, now coming back into style.

I know you can't talk about the paper you refereed, but "flatter" phones may also come along with other features besides flat FR such as distortion pattern, seal to ear (and isolation), or even polar plot. And phones that measure "flatter" in one set-up may not be delivering something called "flatter" to the listener. And one headphone that is flatter, may be way better than the other tested phones in the research which may be poorish.

B.
 
I wanted to add some results from a paper that I reviewed recently for JAES.

The authors looked at brain activity while listening to a common music passage through differing headphones. The "flatter" the headphones response was the lower the brain activity. This strongly supports the idea that poor frequency response can lead to fatigue as the brain has to work harder to make sense of the sound signals it is receiving.

I guess they are comparing extremely poor one vs relatively flatter one in this test. The audiophile speakers are all relatively flat, and I'm skeptical that they can draw the same conclusion comparing 2 different high end speakers. The FR of recorded materials are usually deformed and far from flat compared to natural sound anyway.
 
The authors covered this concern and did it correctly, but I can't disclose those details.
I remain skeptical because your ear has no way to know what is flat since it has no way to know what the source is.

I think folks judge (and engineers record) based on their pre-conception of what "good earphone sound" or "real HiFi" sounds like.

A million ways in which two different headphones can differ. However, if they tested one set and then screwed-up the FR and compared, they might be a kind of gold-standard for test re-test.

B.
 
Didn't follow the thread from the beginning, so excuse me if this has been brought up before.

One source for listener fatigue is certainly the 'muddy' and 'distant' sound that you get from too many early reflections in the listening room. Easy to test, if you have a bare, overly reflective room and a wide-dispersion speaker. Listening speech and walking away from the speaker, after a certain distance the sound becomes suddenly much harder to process. Happens also in auditoriums much too often. It is also level dependent, as I have found. Loudness actually hinders clarity.

Dr. Griesinger has studied the effect and has a metric for it: LOC. Following graph is stolen from one of his presentations.
 

Attachments

  • recall.png
    recall.png
    197.4 KB · Views: 136
I suspect we need to distinguish between 'smooth but natural sounding' and 'absolutely flat'. Sometimes the right response has a tilt, or a rolloff, but it also has to be carefully crafted.
Absolutely.
Cause when I "just" go for the smooth FR and simply ignore minor details. Then it will sound different for sure - compared to the FR that I can optani by going down to +/- 1dB nit-picking.
But again - there are som basic "rules". Like how low a Q setting has to be - at a certain level of gain - to be heard or to be ignored.
So when I adjust my filter in my DSP. Then a PEQ with a Q-setting of 1 - will easily be heard, even when only +/- 1-2dB gain is used or measured. But when the Q-is maybe 10. Then it's a whole different story - and the earlier +/- 1-2dB is now a wash.


So my take on this long story. Is that you might have a smooth FR, which could make alot of listeners happy - but it's still not flat and neutral. Getting it flat too - can be a challenge - without annoying anyone - becase things become complicated and we easily hear errors in a design, that might not be heard in a smooth but non flat speaker - like B&W.

Furthermore. It seems like the falling slope towards the upper frequencies - usualy/mostly applies to speakers with a narrow soundfield(more beaming) - meaning - tweeter and midrange get to "hot" for sitting close to the speaker at moderate listening level at home.
 
One source for listener fatigue is certainly the 'muddy' and 'distant' sound that you get from too many early reflections in the listening room. Easy to test, if you have a bare, overly reflective room and a wide-dispersion speaker. Listening speech and walking away from the speaker, after a certain distance the sound becomes suddenly much harder to process.
Agreed. I listen to alot of talks on youtube, where speech is very important because of often used technical language.
When swiching from a typical speaker with a dome tweeter - to a speaker with more optimal front baffle and the little Seas DXT tweeter. Suddenly the sound becomes much more stable and focused in the center - like right from the screen itself. So when I get up from the sofa and move further back in my apartment to my open kitchen. Then voices still remain clear, which I think is because of the much better polar response in this speaker - which eases up on my absolutely not acousticly perfect room.
 
2 things cause listener fatigue.

Missing info in the presentation. It's like driving at night in the fog. Your brain is in search of information. It is fatiguing.

Too much information. Too many things going on musically, unnatural timbres of the instruments, bad performances. It relates to the first item. The information that you are listening to masks the information your brain is straining to decipher.

That's my insight after 40 years in audio, 53 years as a driver and 68 spins around the sun.
 
Status
This old topic is closed. If you want to reopen this topic, contact a moderator using the "Report Post" button.