Sub volume/ear muffle!!!


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Apr 28, 2002
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Just bought a big Jamo sub (long story from the classifieds but lets not get into that :( ) anyway, when it is in use during a big film it sounds fantastic really does make the walls rumble, however I have a strange question, both myself and my other half feel that when it gets started it actually 'hurts' your ears, by this I mean it seems to make your ears feel like they do when you have a bit of a head cold! I know this sounds strange but I thought I would ask whether this is normal not having had a 'big' sub before

I would add that I have set it up according to the advice on here, ie set the gain, crossover and volume to match and run this through the THX set up for audio.

Any advice would be appreciated (hopefully IanJ may be around :D )
Does your amp have a setting that sends the LFE to both your front speakers and your sub? My mate had a similar issue to yours and that's what he did. His ears don't hurt anymore. Your other option is to turn the volume of the sub down a little.
Yeah I have large and small settings on the front speakers and if set to small all LFE goes to the Sub (they are currently set to large as I assume that a good transition of Bass from the speakers to the Sub at low levels was how the THX set up implied it should be set), the volume doesn't seem to make any difference to the muffle effect as it happens even when the sub vol is inaudible during loud explosions!
Unless you have very big and powerful main speakers I prefer that the speakers are set to small all round as I find that the sub is better at handling the low mid band than are many speakers and it makes the setup easier to integrate.

I don't know what the controls on the Jamo are but if you can switch out the crossover on the sub so that it doesn't operate, do so and the crossover will be handled by the receiver instead.

I don't know about making ears hurt but deep bass in an enclosed space is all about pressure and you can feel it rather than hear it. There is no doubt that listening to a film with lots of LFE at high levels can be very tiring and there have been occasions when I have been showing off what the sub can do to a friend and have ended the session drained.

Maybe you have the volume on the sub set too high which is fairly common. To set it up properly you need to beg borrow or buy an SPL meter to ensure that all of your speakers including the subwoofer are at the correct volume in relation to each other.
Cheers Ian, will try changing the speaker settings first, I don't think you can change the crossover to off only down to the lowest setting so not sure whether this would make any difference?

Have thought about a SPL meter but couldn't really justify the spend for a one off use, will have to ask around on this one
Originally posted by nictry
I don't think you can change the crossover to off only down to the lowest setting so not sure whether this would make any difference?

If you can't switch it off, switch it to the highest setting not the lowest and if you have a variable sub crossover in the amp set that as low as possible - 80Hz being the THX guide crossover
Sorry, I meant to say it is currently at the highest not lowest setting! I can't change any sub settings on my amp, not flash enough for that hence why I am looking to upgrade to a nice new Denon/HK in the future (when I have saved the pennies that is :D )
An SPL Meter really is worth the money as it made quite a big improvement to my sound when i had all speakers at 75dB.

Or even borrow one from nearby member if you can.
A cheap "fix" would be to buy a test-cd with frequency sweeps and seperate sinus waves from 20 Hz - 20 kHz. A stereo test-cd doesn't cost much, and you can see if any frequencies (like your sub) are way too loud. You can also set the "phase" of the sub with it, to make the transition as smooth as possible around the 80 Hz (or other) cut-off.

The sub should be set to a modest sound level, as the bass will otherwise overwhelm during playback of cd music.

Quite honestly I cannot see how you can afford <not> to buy a cheap Tandy/RadioShack SPL meter.

If your ears are actually hurting you are probably pushing 120dB. Sound levels above 90dB cause short term insensitivity, above 100db are going to cause long term damage & above 110 are guaranteed to cause damage.

Usually pain is a stimulus to take notice of. It usually means your hair is on fire or your chain saw has slipped (again).
So why would you ignore pain in the ears?

I'd seriously consider getting a meter. It's cost is miniscule compared with the total cost of your system & software. The old analogue SPL meter was only about £20-25 in the Tandy shops when I bought mine a few years back. Even allowing for inflation it still can't be that expensive these days.

Meanwhile turn it down a bit. Eh?

It is not loud Nimby, honestly it is set only on about 25% it is not a loud noise it is more the presuure feeling like ear popping on the plane!!!

Anyway have managed to borrow an SPL meter so will soon remove the level issue from the equation
Assuming the sub is set up correctly, it sounds like a ridiculously excited room mode (WAHOOO!!! I'M A FRICKIN' RESONANT ROOM MODE!!!). I'm in a pretty small room and the lift attributed to the primary mode is massive: ~+18dB.

You should be able to sniff it out with the meter and some test tones.

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