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Listening fatigue - is it me over-analysing, or is it my equipment?

Wombat

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Thanks for that, sounds pretty similar to what I said in post #34!

The brain overrides so much of what we hear, this is why I'm still on the fence as to whether the speakers are an issue or whether it's me.

It could be an anxiety thing. Then, it could be not.
 
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samwell7

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It could be an anxiety thing. Then, it could be not.

Yeah I know what you're saying.

Probably more expectation bias than anxiety, I don't dread listening to them or anything but as soon as I start to focus on all the extra detail I'm noticing my ears start to feel weird, for lack of a better word.

I put some anti-vibration pads under the speakers and they sounded a bit better, my makeshift desk is an old hollow door and I dare say it'd have some nasty reflections and resonances.
 

Wombat

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Yeah I know what you're saying.

Probably more expectation bias than anxiety, I don't dread listening to them or anything but as soon as I start to focus on all the extra detail I'm noticing my ears start to feel weird, for lack of a better word.

I put some anti-vibration pads under the speakers and they sounded a bit better, my makeshift desk is an old hollow door and I dare say it'd have some nasty reflections and resonances.


I think evolution has tuned our hearing to narrow our hearing receptivity for survival purposes. Intense narrow focus for a limited time.

Extended listening has to be less easy than this, huh? Lots of stuff on concentration vs time out there.
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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I think evolution has tuned our hearing to narrow our hearing receptivity for survival purposes. Intense narrow focus for a limited time.

Extended listening has to be less easy than this, huh? Lots of stuff on concentration vs time out there.
Yeah for sure, I'm guessing that's why people prefer 'darker' speakers for longer listening sessions.

Potentially the amount of perceived detail is mentally draining.

Hoping a set of them gets tested somewhere soon!
I wanted to run REW for a rough measurement but my old Lenovo laptop wouldn't let me delete the Realtek audio driver so I couldn't run a microphone and speakers at the same time
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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Just found another in-room measurement (attached) of the S1000mk2, this time compared to a speaker which Amir has reviewed (JBL 305) from this video
I know YouTube sound comparisons aren't ideal but it sounds (and looks) less bright than the JBL's, I know an in-room FR chart tells only a small portion of the story but this may assist.
It's pushing me further to thinking that it's just me and my listening environment plus physical factors rather than an issue with the speakers.
 

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Willem

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To decide whether it is you or the speakers the simpest test would be to try your best other system in your workspace. Does the problem go away, or not?
Listening fatigue is indeed unpleasant. Rather than blaming metal dome tweeters (my ultra smooth Harbeth PESRs have them as well), the main causes in my experience have indeed been harsh speakers, but also an overly bright acoustic environment or input clipping/distortion from a strong signal into an amplifier with high input sensitivity. Some manufacturers increase input sensitivity to pretend that their amplifier is more powerful than it really is, and to stand out in the demo room (louder sounds 'better'). I am not pretending that I know this is the cause, but it is worth trying to find out, by reducing the output from your computer's soundcard or whatever is your source.
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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To decide whether it is you or the speakers the simpest test would be to try your best other system in your workspace. Does the problem go away, or not?
Listening fatigue is indeed unpleasant. Rather than blaming metal dome tweeters (my ultra smooth Harbeth PESRs have them as well), the main causes in my experience have indeed been harsh speakers, but also an overly bright acoustic environment or input clipping/distortion from a strong signal into an amplifier with high input sensitivity. Some manufacturers increase input sensitivity to pretend that their amplifier is more powerful than it really is, and to stand out in the demo room (louder sounds 'better'). I am not pretending that I know this is the cause, but it is worth trying to find out, by reducing the output from your computer's soundcard or whatever is your source.

Thanks for your reply, I've been thinking about trying some different sources and also trying to move the Sony SS-CS5's from the kitchen in to my workspace, it'll just be a bit of a pain because my receiver loses all of its settings and presets when unplugged but it'll be worth it.

I did notice some distortion today via Bluetooth from my spare/music phone (Nokia 7 plus) when I had the source volume at 100% (first time running it like that). I usually leave my sources at less than 100% because I have had input overloading before on an older system.

When you had listening fatigue was the harshness and distortion noticeable to you? Or did you just notice the effects?
 

Willem

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I noticed it in my main system (Quad electrostats) used in a minimalist modern interior with modern analogue sources that were too hot for my old Quad 33 pre amplifier. Using my new RME ADI-2 DAC as a preamp and only digital sources cured that. I am not sure whether it was the better gain matching or the otherwise superb cleanliness of the RME.
I also noticed it with the Q-Acoustics 3010 speakers in our bedroom system. Here, I used the treble control in the CCA that I use as a source (with its optical output) in that system.
By the way, I think Bluetooth is a nice format for non-critical mobile applications, but I would avoid it for more serious listening.
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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I noticed it in my main system (Quad electrostats) used in a minimalist modern interior with modern analogue sources that were too hot for my old Quad 33 pre amplifier. Using my new RME ADI-2 DAC as a preamp and only digital sources cured that. I am not sure whether it was the better gain matching or the otherwise superb cleanliness of the RME.
I also noticed it with the Q-Acoustics 3010 speakers in our bedroom system. Here, I used the treble control in the CCA that I use as a source (with its optical output) in that system.

Thanks for that, the environment I've got them in at the moment is fairly harsh.
It's funny with the Q acoustics 30x0s, I was pretty close to buying them (ended up settling with the far cheaper Sony's), they're generally referred to as warm and easy-listening but then I've seen a fair few threads with people complaining about the treble being too harsh - almost like there are two different versions
 

Plcamp

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I have played extensively with my tangband trio 15 open baffles...the 8” tangband cross frequency and type being the variable.

My impression is that I get fatigue listening to them if I cross them too low...ie if I ask the Tangband to handle 300 hz up, it sounds great if it isn’t more than moderate volume, but gets fatiguing quickly as volume rises (past about -25dB)

The fatigue effect diminishes to the point where, at 700 hz cross, it is pretty much gone.

(Edit: I would ideally want to cross under 300 hz so the driver to driver spacing is closer to 1/4 wavelength...but this effect has forced me to abandon that)

The biggest difference there is the excursion demand on the Tangband, while it is delivering high frequency content. I concluded it can be crossed low if I add a tweeter to offload hf, but otherwise needs to be crossed higher than one might expect.

One diagnostic problem is that it is impossible to accurately measure distortion when the volume is loud, due to room effects...so I am guessing that it is mid-high frequency distortion that is causing the fatigue I notice.

Anyway, that’s my suspicion in my specific case.
 
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Plcamp

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I suppose a second anecdote would be my upstairs Paradigm Studio 100 v5’s.

For a long while they also caused fatigue at higher volumes...until I discovered dedicated power amps instead of a Yamaha AVR. Inserting the power amp solved.

Not sure what that effect is, but have to suspect the speakers low end current demand overstressed the AVR amp capability...and again it is distortion?
 

Willem

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Generous amplification is indeed often beneficial. Amplifiers do indeed not have a sonic signature, but only if they have enough power. I am not sure that is an issue here, given that listening level is apparently quite low, and in near field.
 

Plcamp

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One track that I find particularly revealing for fatigue is “The National Anthem” by Radiohead. I find that one hardest to get right, but once it is you hear each instrument distinctly.

Edit: That track is on a Spotify playlist “10 songs to test your speakers” ... which also includes “Pretty Vacant” by Sex Pistols, unsurprisingly. :)
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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I suppose a second anecdote would be my upstairs Paradigm Studio 100 v5’s.

For a long while they also caused fatigue at higher volumes...until I discovered dedicated power amps instead of a Yamaha AVR. Inserting the power amp solved.

Not sure what that effect is, but have to suspect the speakers low end current demand overstressed the AVR amp capability...and again it is distortion?
That's interesting, I've heard of it happening where the amp will run out of headroom and introduce micro-distortions which can cause fatigue fairly quickly.
I'm listening at low volumes and in near-field, the internal amps are probably pushing 1 watt or less so I'd guess it's a different issue.
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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One track that I find particularly revealing for fatigue is “The National Anthem” by Radiohead. I find that one hardest to get right, but once it is you hear each instrument distinctly.
I'll give this a try with my next listen, it's a great track when played on a good system!
 

Plcamp

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That's interesting, I've heard of it happening where the amp will run out of headroom and introduce micro-distortions which can cause fatigue fairly quickly.
I'm listening at low volumes and in near-field, the internal amps are probably pushing 1 watt or less so I'd guess it's a different issue.

Yes, I missed your nearfield context when I commented. I am listening more than 10’ away.

Edit: Have you tried different off axis listening angles? That would alter freq response you hear...and the change in freq response you hear from slight changes in listening position.
Another experiment that would possibly be revealing is to temporarily cover the baffle front and edges with a 3-4mm layer of wool felt, just to see of baffle edge diffraction is contributing at all?
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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Generous amplification is indeed often beneficial. Amplifiers do indeed not have a sonic signature, but only if they have enough power. I am not sure that is an issue here, given that listening level is apparently quite low, and in near field.
This is very true and pretty often overlooked. Yeah it's low, maybe even too low as I wasn't as bad when I had it 'cranked' this afternoon, my SPL apps were showing a max of 65-70dB
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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I noticed it in my main system (Quad electrostats) used in a minimalist modern interior with modern analogue sources that were too hot for my old Quad 33 pre amplifier. Using my new RME ADI-2 DAC as a preamp and only digital sources cured that. I am not sure whether it was the better gain matching or the otherwise superb cleanliness of the RME.
I also noticed it with the Q-Acoustics 3010 speakers in our bedroom system. Here, I used the treble control in the CCA that I use as a source (with its optical output) in that system.
By the way, I think Bluetooth is a nice format for non-critical mobile applications, but I would avoid it for more serious listening.
I missed your comment about Bluetooth! It'll probably open a can of worms but if I'm only listening to Spotify premium (might be 256kbps AAC?) would Aptx HD Bluetooth still be worse than a wired connection? Pretty sure it can transmit at 576kbps
 

Willem

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I don't know about the more recent applications, and they are of course getting better all the time, but in my car I can hear the difference between streaming BT from my phone to the (modern) car radio and DAB+ digital radio. The latter does sound better.
By and large I prefer wired connections wherever I can, for more bandwidth and greater reliability. Our desktop computers have them, and we have just updated to 500 Mbit internet.
 
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samwell7

samwell7

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I don't know about the more recent applications, and they are of course getting better all the time, but in my car I can hear the difference between streaming BT from my phone to the (modern) car radio and DAB+ digital radio. The latter does sound better.
By and large I prefer wired connections wherever I can, for more bandwidth and greater reliability. Our desktop computers have them, and we have just updated to 500 Mbit internet.
I haven't noticed any major difference between Bluetooth and wired with this system.

I definitely noticed quality differences with earlier Bluetooth revisions and I still prefer wired where possible, especially for ease of use - although the newer version seems to be a lot more reliable.
 
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