Listening fatigue

FootHealer

Active Member
Perhaps Rega could sort the problem. Rega midrange is thick, not bright top end either.

It could work because of MA extremely detailed highs. Marantz probably also. Even Denon.

I suggest the Rega Elicit R, Marantz PM8006, Denon 1600NE.
I really have no idea how to proceed. I will run the speakers in fully and may well try my Cambridge SR20 amp and use the coaxial from the CD to bypass the Rotel CD11s internal DAC. The SR20 is pretty warm, and powerful (100w per channel into 8ohm) but not especially refined. If the issue persists, then I'll decide then what to do.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
Fatigue can be causes by excess low frequencies as well. Usually its a slight sibilance we most notice which can make transients seem very hard and that it what tends to prompt us to turn it down.

However, sub 60Hz boom can have a fatiguing effect as well. It doesnt prompt you to turn it down so much as want to turn it off completely and have some silence.

Sometime the sense of overly harsh transients is not because you are getting excessive response in the 5-8Khz or so range, but instead because too much sound is being absorbed much lower down making that range seem relatively more intense.

Also what you are used to has a significant impact in the short term. If you listen on relatively warm (tilted by room response toward enhancing 100-350Hz range) and then listen to a more balanced system and combine that with age related intolerance of excessive peaks in the 5-8Khz range, then the result can be unpleasant. Maybe fixing both systems will help? :)

I myself am quite sensitive to excessively hard transients which I guess is age related (mid 50s) and maybe also because of years clubbing, DJing and doing music production work for 8-12 hours a day.
I used to really enjoy working with my near field studio monitors but these days I find them too intense and am more comfortable with an overall warmer sound, but a warmer sound tends to loose clarity as transient detail gets obscured by excess lower frequencies and can be a bit muddled so it gets to be a harder balance to achieve - ie well balanced punchy transients without being too intense.

The way I deal with it, is I have my system carefully EQd with DSP to be basically flat (which gives amazing clarity and punch, but gets too intense). So on top of that I have a house curve for personal taste (slight bass and treble lift) and then I also have a small narrow dip to take the edge of the more intense transients at about 6Khz and a compensating lift of air frequencies (>10Khz). These two latter tweaks I find to be reasonable compensation for how my hearing has changed as I age and/or been abused over the years.

I use Roon software for all my streaming and local music playback (ripped CD instead of actual CD) which also has a load of DSP in it so it was easy to setup all these EQ curves (plus obviously it helps that I have a history in professional sound work of course) and really I wouldnt be without it now. Maybe something like dirac live could give you the similar options.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Fatigue can be causes by excess low frequencies as well. Usually its a slight sibilance we most notice which can make transients seem very hard and that it what tends to prompt us to turn it down.

However, sub 60Hz boom can have a fatiguing effect as well. It doesnt prompt you to turn it down so much as want to turn it off completely and have some silence.

Sometime the sense of overly harsh transients is not because you are getting excessive response in the 5-8Khz or so range, but instead because too much sound is being absorbed much lower down making that range seem relatively more intense.

Also what you are used to has a significant impact in the short term. If you listen on relatively warm (tilted by room response toward enhancing 100-350Hz range) and then listen to a more balanced system and combine that with age related intolerance of excessive peaks in the 5-8Khz range, then the result can be unpleasant. Maybe fixing both systems will help? :)

I myself am quite sensitive to excessively hard transients which I guess is age related (mid 50s) and maybe also because of years clubbing, DJing and doing music production work for 8-12 hours a day.
I used to really enjoy working with my near field studio monitors but these days I find them too intense and am more comfortable with an overall warmer sound, but a warmer sound tends to loose clarity as transient detail gets obscured by excess lower frequencies and can be a bit muddled so it gets to be a harder balance to achieve - ie well balanced punchy transients without being too intense.

The way I deal with it, is I have my system carefully EQd with DSP to be basically flat (which gives amazing clarity and punch, but gets too intense). So on top of that I have a house curve for personal taste (slight bass and treble lift) and then I also have a small narrow dip to take the edge of the more intense transients at about 6Khz and a compensating lift of air frequencies (>10Khz). These two latter tweaks I find to be reasonable compensation for how my hearing has changed as I age and/or been abused over the years.

I use Roon software for all my streaming and local music playback (ripped CD instead of actual CD) which also has a load of DSP in it so it was easy to setup all these EQ curves (plus obviously it helps that I have a history in professional sound work of course) and really I wouldnt be without it now. Maybe something like dirac live could give you the similar options.
Hi...thanks for the reply. I don't think bass boom is an issue with the Silver 200s. It was more of an issue with the Oberon 5s and Wharfedale 12.3s, as my room has an issue around 45-55Hz that elevates bass frequencies in that region. The Silver 200s did not affect this much, hence my previous comments on the 200s being a little "bass shy". There is no harshness anywhere in the spectrum that I can detect. I had a similar issue with the 200s as with the MA Bronze 5s. But this was only when I switched from a very warm amplifier (Denon PMA600ne) to the more neutral Rotel A11 Tribute. Then the same fatigue issue started. I have tried several speakers since then trying to sort the issue out and the only ones that seemed okay so far are the tiny Concept 20s. I think there is just something about the Rotel A11 Tribute that requires careful pairing. But the speaker is involved. I took the 200s and played them on an NAD D3020v2, which surprisingly drove them nicely, albeit at low volume in a nearfield setup. The fatigue crept in again, but took longer and wasn't so bad. I think that unless I go back to a very warm amp, like the PMA600ne, which is warm to the point of being outright laid back, then I will continue having this issue. But I see this as being a poor choice with the 200s, not an obvious pairing (£329 amp with £1000 speakers).

I know room correction, DSP, Dirac Live, etc, might sort these things out, but I'd prefer not to go there. Instead, I have opted to try one more combination. I have a pair of QA Concept 40s being delivered tomorrow. If they are as smooth and easy to listen to as the Concept 20s, then I think it will be fine. I enjoy the impressive detail of the Silver 200s, but would happily trade the detail for something a little more relaxed. Will let you know if it goes well. Hopefully it will. If it does, I'll put the Silver 200s on the AVForums classified section and cut my losses.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
The QAcoustic floor standing speakers or stand mounted speakers? Edit, I see they are floor standing speakers.
 
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FootHealer

Active Member
The QAcoustic floor standing speakers or stand mounted speakers? Edit, I see they are floor standing speakers.
Yeah...the Concept 20s were released a few years ago, and I am not keen on the looks, but they sound absolutely amazing. Smooth, silky, but with enough detail to satisfy. The imaging and soundstage is impressive for the price. I am hoping the larger Concept 40s will be basically more of the same. If so, to say I will be pleased will be an understatement. Again, I am not keen on the look (the Silver 200s are beautiful), with the peg holes on the face plate and the glass tripod stand. But its a small trade off if the sound is similar to the Concept 20s, but hopefully with more bass and presence than the smaller speakers can muster in a larger room.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
But I see this as being a poor choice with the 200s, not an obvious pairing (£329 amp with £1000 speakers).

Actually small speakers that you really like can be a fine with a less expensive amp. Excluding features, then the things I find with cheaper consumer integrated amps (ignoring features) is lack of clarity compared to higher end amps but often much more obviously an inability to adequately control the bass on large floorstanders or otherwise handle low impendance zones in an awkward speaker. That said, I have come across some quite expensive amps that just cannot deliver tight controlled bass even if they are great sounding otherwise. My usual more subjective complaint is they can lack the dynamic livelyness you can get out of a great amp, but depending on music taste, that may be not matter. For me its a deal breaker given my music taste.

Generally with a small speaker using conventional drivers and crossover the latter probably wont be a concern at all.

Personally I have skewed the other way around - going off RRP prices then my amp is 3-4x the cost of my speakers but because they are quite demanding speakers, when driven by an amp this good and with good positioning, some room DSP etc then they become very satisfying speakers even if I am conscious of some wrinkles in them that should lacking in much better speakers. They were always intended to be temporary, but turned out to be far over time better than I ever expected :)
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Actually small speakers that you really like can be a fine with a less expensive amp. Excluding features, then the things I find with cheaper consumer integrated amps (ignoring features) is lack of clarity compared to higher end amps but often much more obviously an inability to adequately control the bass on large floorstanders or otherwise handle low impendance zones in an awkward speaker. That said, I have come across some quite expensive amps that just cannot deliver tight controlled bass even if they are great sounding otherwise. My usual more subjective complaint is they can lack the dynamic livelyness you can get out of a great amp, but depending on music taste, that may be not matter. For me its a deal breaker given my music taste.

Generally with a small speaker using conventional drivers and crossover the latter probably wont be a concern at all.

Personally I have skewed the other way around - going off RRP prices then my amp is 3-4x the cost of my speakers but because they are quite demanding speakers, when driven by an amp this good and with good positioning, some room DSP etc then they become very satisfying speakers even if I am conscious of some wrinkles in them that should lacking in much better speakers. They were always intended to be temporary, but turned out to be far over time better than I ever expected :)
I also feel its better to pair an expensive amp with a less expensive speaker than vice versa. I'd rather have a cheaper speaker performing its best than an expensive speaker underperforming. Hence my hesitance to pair a much cheaper amp than the Rotel with the Silver 200s. The Silver 200s are already twice the cost of the Rotel. The Rotel has plenty of power to handle the 200s. In fact, the Denon PMA600ne, althought rated at 40w per channel, is quite muscular and may be fine. I have a £400 Cambridge amp at home that has been relegated to PC setup duties, but has 100w per channel into 8Ohm. I am tempted to pair it with the 200s. It is quite warm and may make them more suitable for my tastes. I have it hooked up to a pair of Monitor Bronze 1s, and get no fatigue with this, as the warmth of the amp tames the Bronze 1 nicely. But, I only have so much room. 4 Hifis is a bit too much, as I have 3 systems already. I'll think about it, but if the Concept 40s hit the spot, it is likely I will sell the 200s and move on. We'll see tomorrow...
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
I also feel its better to pair an expensive amp with a less expensive speaker than vice versa.

Well, as I said in my case I have done so because a big awkward floorstander often needs something that can handle it, so in that case I err on the side of much better amp. With a small speaker, I am comfortable to err on the side of better speakers. I would not go with a cheap amp driving high end floorstanders as most likely it just will struggle. The caveat here is that there are plenty of cheap pro-audio amps around that will cope very well, however they tend to lack some of the refinements that are normal in modern hifi and may include fans etc and generally be butt-ugly.

In general of course we want to to be matching them both as being equivalently capable, but in practice that tends only to happen when you buy (or at least select) everything in one go rather than each component separately as perhaps a step along a journey such that components may tend to leap-frog each other.
 
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FootHealer

Active Member
I found this quote on another forum in a discussion that took place many years ago about "listening fatigue":

"Comment on overly bright speakers. I will grant some speakers are horribly designed; however, in the vast majority of cases where a speaker is described as overly bright (room environment not withstanding), the fault does not lie with the speaker ... it is found in the inappropriate use of that speaker. Since high frequencies will roll off much faster in air, speaker designers will increase HF output of the speaker based upon what the designer (or marketing department) determines will be the average distance between the speaker and the listener. If that is a longer distance and listener is sitting closer to the speaker than the design distance, that speaker will be said to be overly bright. It is only overly bright within that specific environment and the real problem the speaker is being used within a context for which the speaker was not designed to accommodate."

This got me thinking...maybe it is not the speakers and amp pairing or the room, etc, but the fact that I sit so close to the floorstanding speakers (about 1.8m between the front baffle and my ears)? Granted, I am one of those poor unfortunates who is sensitive to harsh, bright, sharp or forward sounds (and visuals), but perhaps this opinion quoted above is correct. Maybe that is why I find most, if not all, standmount speakers I have tried are okay on my system, but all floorstanders I have tried are perceived as "forward and hard to listen to".

Since the QA Concept 40s are being delivered today, I will give them a try. If they have same effect as they others, I will return them and switch to some larger standmount speakers. This seems to make sense to me.
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
For the amount of money you're throwing around here, you really would be well served to buy a decent mic & measure what's actually happening.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
For the amount of money you're throwing around here, you really would be well served to buy a decent mic & measure what's actually happening.
Can you recommend equipment and a way to do this? How would I interpret the results?

My concern with this approach is that "hearing" is large subjective. We cannot measure what we hear and how our brain processes incoming information from the senses. Perhaps if three people were all to listen to my setup, they would walk away with different feelings and opinions about it.

If you think it will help, I am willing to consider it, but I have a few reservations.
 
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RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Assuming you have a laptop or PC nearby, the MiniDSP UMIK-1 is a popular choice combined with the free REW software.


Bit of a learning curve but lots of help available in threads like this one.

 

andybebbs

Active Member
remember bigger is not always better and maybe a stand mount speaker might be what you need.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Assuming you have a laptop or PC nearby, the MiniDSP UMIK-1 is a popular choice combined with the free REW software.


Bit of a learning curve but lots of help available in threads like this one.

Thanks, I may give this a try. I assume that if I find issues I will need to use some sort of DSP or EQ to correct it. Not sure I want to go down this road. Will give it some thought.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
remember bigger is not always better and maybe a stand mount speaker might be what you need.
Funny, that's what my wife says ;) Jokes aside, I think you might be right. I already have a pair of floorstanders arriving today, so I will try them for a week or so and see how it goes. If I get the same issues, then I'll return them, and stick with some standmounters, as I don't seem to have issues with these, except some Dali Oberon 1s, which were not for me. Other than that...I guess it will have to be some sort of DSP. Will see how it goes...
 
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RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
We cannot measure what we hear and how our brain processes incoming information from the senses
No, but we can measure the frequency response of the speakers in the room. This will show any peaks or troughs that need addressing. As I said before, if you have a big hole in your bass response it could make the mid/treble seem prominent. At the moment you're just speculating as to what the issues might be. Measurement will go some way to allowing you to eliminate obvious issues.

I assume that if I find issues I will need to use some sort of DSP or EQ to correct it. Not sure I want to go down this road. Will give it some thought.
First & free option is fine tuning speaker placement to get rid of nulls. Peaks may be more problematic because they will largely be determined by room dimensions. So yes, you are then getting into the realms of DSP or room treatment. I'd contend that effective room treatment isn't something that is generally going to go down well with the other half.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
I'd contend that effective room treatment isn't something that is generally going to go down well with the other half.
Yes...I've managed to just about get away with 3 large acoustic panels. Any more and there may be complaints about the HiFi "taking over". I'll see what happens with the speakers that are arriving today, and as you say, I may get the microphone to reduce any further speculating.

The irony is that the cheaper setup I had, a Denon amp and MA Bronze 5s, did not create this issue at all. I'm almost half-tempted to get these again and be done with it...let's see what happens.
 

gava

Active Member
Can you recommend equipment and a way to do this? How would I interpret the results?

My concern with this approach is that "hearing" is large subjective. We cannot measure what we hear and how our brain processes incoming information from the senses. Perhaps if three people were all to listen to my setup, they would walk away with different feelings and opinions about it.

If you think it will help, I am willing to consider it, but I have a few reservations.

I don't think the evidence supports this. Under controlled conditions most people agree on what sounds good.

My view is that your chief problem is the reflections from the wall right behind you, so sharp toe in to throw the reflections away from you instead of directly back at your ears will make a huge difference.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
I don't think the evidence supports this. Under controlled conditions most people agree on what sounds good.

My view is that your chief problem is the reflections from the wall right behind you, so sharp toe in to throw the reflections away from you instead of directly back at your ears will make a huge difference.
Hi,

I did place a large 5cm thick acoustic panel on the wall behind the sofa (120cmx60cm in size). I now sit about 80cm from the wall. Yet, fatigue continues. Upstairs the room is far worse acoustically...small room, bare walls, square, yet I have no such issues on the Concept 20s with an NAD amp. Would reflections off the back wall still be an issue if this is the case? Not really sure I want a massive toe-in angle on the speakers. I've always preferred only small amounts of toe-in and had no issues. If I cross the speakers in from of the listening position, as some have suggested, I think I would get some comments about how odd it looks. Personally I agree. It looks weird.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
I don't think the evidence supports this. Under controlled conditions most people agree on what sounds good.
I hope its not too much trouble, but I was also wondering if you had a link to the study or studies that you are describing. I'm interested to learn a bit more about how it was done and how the results were interpreted. I'm intreged that "most people" agreed on what sounded good, but not everyone. Am interested in finding out the sample size and number of outliers and perhaps even why they were outliers. Seems fascinating.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
I cannot post studies, however someone called Floyd Toole who was at Harman Karden at the time did conduct a bunch of studies into speakers which involved getting peoples subjective opinions of how the speaker (or maybe system?) sounded and using that to make measurements of the speaker to identify correlations between objective measurements and subjective opinion. I would suggest you google him and his 'Sound Reproduction' book which is interesting reading.

I am not aware of anyone else who has attempted to undertake such studies in terms of attempting to correlate subjective opinion with objective measurement but certainly it is something this industry desperate need more of. I suspect some thing may still be too hard to measure and/or analyse with the accuracy needed to get a good correlation however.

Being able to determine that a system sound good or not is not the same is being able to determine exactly what is wrong and what to do about it when the sound is not satisfactory. In some cases it maybe obvious, but not in all.
 

gava

Active Member
I hope its not too much trouble, but I was also wondering if you had a link to the study or studies that you are describing. I'm interested to learn a bit more about how it was done and how the results were interpreted. I'm intreged that "most people" agreed on what sounded good, but not everyone. Am interested in finding out the sample size and number of outliers and perhaps even why they were outliers. Seems fascinating.

A lot of research is behind paywalls unfortunately.

A good place to start - with the man who revolutionized the thinking around sound reproduction.




This is Amir's summary which pulls in a few more sources




And some links that he references in his video if you want to do some reading first.

Research papers - paywalled unfortunately:

AES E-Library » A Survey Study of In-Situ Stereo and Multi-Channel Monitoring Conditions

AES E-Library » Differences in Performance and Preference of Trained versus Untrained Listeners in Loudspeaker Tests: A Case Study
 
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andybebbs

Active Member
have you not tried the concept 20`s on your rotel amp downstairs that would of been my first move to see if the issue is the same.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
have you not tried the concept 20`s on your rotel amp downstairs that would of been my first move to see if the issue is the same.
Hi...I have already did that, and it did not have the same issues. Sadly, bass is almost non-existant in a large room with such a small speaker so far out into the room. I would need to add a subwoofer, but my past attempts to blend a subwoofer into a system was frustrating and not wholely satisfying. Am hesitant (but tempted) to try again.
 

andybebbs

Active Member
I would say a sub would be worth auditioning is there any hifi shops near you who will loan you one. I got myself a rel t5i and it works great.
 

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