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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For a couple of years my system has been a little too fatiguing on my ears, to the point that pressure and ringing can occurr. I sit at movie theaters where volume is at reference/THX levels (enter, the naval battle in Benjamin Button) and my ears don't feel any pain or fatigue at all. My system causes fatigue even at lower levels at times.


I know several complain about this from time to time, and the typical response I see is either the room, or unbalanced sound.


My medium-sized living room has a reasonable amount of treatments, but this only tightens the sound, and does not eliminate the fatigue. There are a few peaks in the freq. response, but it's reasonably flat for a living room.


I have a simple JVC 5.1 receiver that is almost 10 years old, a DCM center, and the remaining 4.1 being Sony. In point of comparison, I have tried the Onix speakers with my receiver, and their rich detail was even harder on my ears. To provide an example, my speakers always were least fatiguing when each tweeter was not aimed at the listener. Rather, the towers were raised, and the 2 surrounds were aimed a little off axis and not directly at viewer. Note - this was the least fatiguing, not neccessarily the best sounding. It shouldn't be this way, I should have towers on the ground, and surrounds aimed in the right place for good imaging. I have all this now, but I think something needs adjustment as it does cause ear issues.


I don't think it's a problem with my ears, as I've been in other rooms with HT systems and not walked out with any pressure or ringing, as well as movie theaters - and I understand movie theaters are different from my living room. I've even sat in the Bose "I'll be back with a surprise" demo rooms at their retail stores and have had no problems. Those rooms are the size of my living room, and aren't even treated. I have lived in 2 rooms with my setup with similar results in both with my ears.


I have to say that I enjoy how my system sounds in terms of imaging and impact, but it gets far too fatiguing too rapidly. I strongly feel that different equipment might make things better. My question is, should I focus first on a receiver or on speakers? For all i know i might just need a receiver that is not 10 years old.


Thanks for any suggestions!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napoleon D /forum/post/15415504


...I have to say that I enjoy how my system sounds in terms of imaging and impact, but it gets far too fatiguing too rapidly. I strongly feel that different equipment might make things better. My question is, should I focus first on a receiver or on speakers? For all i know i might just need a receiver that is not 10 years old.


Thanks for any suggestions!

Focus on your speakers and your room. Your receiver has little to do with what you describe. Now, a new receiver with an EQ system such as Auddesey might help to tame the room and speakers quite a bit and might be worth considering. But for what you are describing, normally, I would start with the room, make sure that it is as neutral as possible, then move to speakers, then move to electronics.
 

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Speakers, room, recording itself, electronics...... in that order.


I would call myself one who is also sensitive to fatigue. There is no question in my mind that speakers are the main contributors. I had the Paradigm Ref Studio 60 v.1 and Aerial Acoustic Model 7 (not 7B) which I could not live with for very long. I had a pair of Hales Revelation 2 and Revelation 1 which were the darkest speakers I've heard. I could listen to them all day long, but ultimately felt they were too veiled. I needed some sparkle back. I also had a pair of Totem Rainmakers. They had a nice and revealing treble without the harshness. I sold them for other reasons. I once demo'ed at home the Paradigm Sig 20 v.1. I thought it was the most neutral speaker from Paradigm. Again, no fatigue from them. I didn't buy them for other reasons.

My current pair is the Aerial Model 9. It's about right. I could afford to warm them up a bit still. I have a dedicated room with moderate treatment. You can search for my room under the dedicated HT forum, under "show me your rope lights" thread. It's near the end.


Room: When I was building my dedicated room, there was a point where it was just a thick carpet, no wall treatment. I had my Aerial 7 in there. No word of a lie, I couldn't stand 10min. I quickly made some makeshift panels out of 3" Roxul and although ugly, I lived with that for over a year.



Recording: the music I listen to are recorded poorly. Mainstream music, indie will do it to you, esp in this day and age of dynamic compression. i don't do any "audiophile" label stuff. Nothing you can do about it but crap in, crap out.


Electronics: Yes it does make a diff, just not like speakers or room. I had an Anthem AVM20 which I always felt was forward. The Integra 9.8 is more forgiving.


That's my experience.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Napoleon D /forum/post/15415504


For a couple of years my system has been a little too fatiguing on my ears, to the point that pressure and ringing can occurr. I sit at movie theaters where volume is at reference/THX levels (enter, the naval battle in Benjamin Button) and my ears don't feel any pain or fatigue at all. My system causes fatigue even at lower levels at times.

I'd make sure that all the electronics are up to snuff with some test bench measurements, and be prepared to make some serious changes in the room.


I've never heard Areal 9s, but they look nice on paper. It seems to me that your next speaker upgrade would be a subwoofer.


But first work over the room. This site might help:

http://www.realtraps.com/
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bing /forum/post/15419356


Speakers, room, recording itself, electronics...... in that order.

That's funny, because I would almost completely reverse that order. Actually, what I would do is eliminate recording (you have no control over that, and it varies wildly from recording to recording). And then reverse that... electronics, room, speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I actually don't think it's so much the room at this point. I have very good placement and moderate treatment. There can only be so much treatment you can do before you start noticing some change in this regard. Yes, the sound tightened up after putting up several thick sound panels, although the fatigue still happens. It's just that I don't have the system overly loud, and it would be nice to not have my ears treat me as if I have been blasting it


Overall it's the tonality of the sound that irritates me for extended periods of time. The bass also causes some pressure at times. For example, when crossovers are shifted from 100Hz to 80Hz there is a bit more pressure. This may make sense as more bass is redirected around me to all 5 speakers as opposed to just from the subwoofer in a treated corner of the room. It's amazing that the built in speakers in all of my cars have been many times been louder than my HT system and i've walked out feeling fine.


I think the JVC receiver may just overly bright. The sound is very enjoyable (BEFORE it starts to wear on you) and produces great imaging, but pressure in ears builds up fast and ringing induces. I've paired the Onix x-series bookshelves with this system, and they were even more fatiguing. Mind you - those speakers have damn near flat response and are considered "warm sounding" and they still were fatiguing. Mine is the only system i've seen this with so far, and it needs to change. I don't feel expensive equipment is needed, perhaps just a newer and "right" receiver in general.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar /forum/post/15422442


That's funny, because I would almost completely reverse that order. Actually, what I would do is eliminate recording (you have no control over that, and it varies wildly from recording to recording). And then reverse that... electronics, room, speakers.

Wow. While I agree that we have no control over the recording (except by choosing it or not), I am amazed that you think that changing among any of many competent electronics options (aside from EQ) will have less of an impact than choosing among comparably sized/priced speakers or among the wildly variable room setups, even just among the ones posted on AVS!


How about swapping a pair of Klipschs for a pair of PSBs?


How about that nice Florida room posted recently with its tile floor and window walls covering 3/4 of the total wall surface?


Less influence than swapping a Denon receiver for an Integra receiver?
 

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I suggest you make a more informed decision by looking more into what is causing your issues by checking your bass response and playing with your distance settings first. Unbalanced sound is the quickest road to fatigue. If any of your speakers including your sub are off by even half a foot you will get unbalanced sound. Normally in 2 channel the primary cause for fatigue is bad placement and/or a maladjusted subwoofer. Distance is absolutely critical. Even in 2 channel if the subwoofer is set to the flattest response possible but the distance is set just a little too far away especially at a higher crossover point like 100Hz your ears will feel beat by the droning mid bass. If it is set too close you your midrange and highs will stand out too much from your mains and your ears will start to close up from the harsh sound. If you don't have a receiver with complete distance controls that adjust in half steps, you should get a receiver that does. Also what can cause fatigue is your speakers not matching each other because of room acoustics. In this case a receiver with a parametric EQ like Audessey, MMAC, or YPAO depending on which brand of receiver you would go with would help out greatly to bring all your speakers to sound as close as possible. There are so many things that effect sound quality, the list goes on forever. The best advice I can give you is to test your system with all different styles and genres of music to keep from biasing your system to the sound of a possibly one bad recording. Don't test anything with a movie for movies are very forgiving of even the worst systems. I know. My brother's system sucks hardcore and movies sound at least passable. Music and bass testers do not lie. It sounds like you may need a receiver that has more ability to adjust out the issues you have. A good speaker is a good speaker. If anytime a good speaker doesn't sound as good as it should, most of the time it is something else. I didn't know whether to put this one first or last, but make sure you're not buying speakers that are too big for your room. Larger tower speakers demand more space and time to radiate and blend the sound before it hits your ears. If you're sitting too close to a tower you will get unbalanced sound. Bookshelf speakers would work better for most people that buy large towers just because they have the extra money and think the bigger the better. Now subwoofers are a bit different as they don't operate in the full frequency range and don't have other drivers to blend with.


Don't try to shotgun a problem by making drastic changes without knowing what needs to change. That is costly and almost never solves your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
I suggest you make a more informed decision by looking more into what is causing your issues by checking your bass response and playing with your distance settings first. Unbalanced sound is the quickest road to fatigue. If any of your speakers including your sub are off by even half a foot you will get unbalanced sound. Normally in 2 channel the primary cause for fatigue is bad placement and/or a maladjusted subwoofer. Distance is absolutely critical. Even in 2 channel if the subwoofer is set to the flattest response possible but the distance is set just a little too far away especially at a higher crossover point like 100Hz your ears will feel beat by the droning mid bass. If it is set too close you your midrange and highs will stand out too much from your mains and your ears will start to close up from the harsh sound. If you don't have a receiver with complete distance controls that adjust in half steps, you should get a receiver that does. Also what can cause fatigue is your speakers not matching each other because of room acoustics. In this case a receiver with a parametric EQ like Audessey, MMAC, or YPAO depending on which brand of receiver you would go with would help out greatly to bring all your speakers to sound as close as possible. There are so many things that effect sound quality, the list goes on forever. The best advice I can give you is to test your system with all different styles and genres of music to keep from biasing your system to the sound of a possibly one bad recording. Don't test anything with a movie for movies are very forgiving of even the worst systems. I know. My brother's system sucks hardcore and movies sound at least passable. Music and bass testers do not lie. It sounds like you may need a receiver that has more ability to adjust out the issues you have. A good speaker is a good speaker. If anytime a good speaker doesn't sound as good as it should, most of the time it is something else. I didn't know whether to put this one first or last, but make sure you're not buying speakers that are too big for your room. Larger tower speakers demand more space and time to radiate and blend the sound before it hits your ears. If you're sitting too close to a tower you will get unbalanced sound. Bookshelf speakers would work better for most people that buy large towers just because they have the extra money and think the bigger the better. Now subwoofers are a bit different as they don't operate in the full frequency range and don't have other drivers to blend with.


Don't try to shotgun a problem by making drastic changes without knowing what needs to change. That is costly and almost never solves your problem.

Thanks Mr. Audio for the detailed response. I will consider all this.


I sit about 8-10 feet away from each speaker. The front mains are reasonably medium-sized Sony towers while the surrounds are large bookshelf. (I know, Sony speakers!)


I think I will go one small step at a time. I should start with replacing my 10 year-old receiver, possibly going with the Onkyo TX-SR606. That is a fiarly reasonably priced receiver that will have Audessey and other features i need.


On a sidenote - is Audessey more of a DSP enhancement feature, or does it merely compliment the regular sound in adjusting each speaker's output - in the same way the "auto-setup" on Denon receivers only helps calibrate your speaker trims. I know only a little about it. As i understand it, it is a tool that helps you calibrate your system's tone based on your room. It is not a sound format you select, yet merely a process you go through before enjoying audio on any output. Is that accurate?
 

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Quote:
On a sidenote - is Audessey more of a DSP enhancement feature, or does it merely compliment the regular sound in adjusting each speaker's output - in the same way the "auto-setup" on Denon receivers only helps calibrate your speaker trims. I know only a little about it. As i understand it, it is a tool that helps you calibrate your system's tone based on your room. It is not a sound format you select, yet merely a process you go through before enjoying audio on any output. Is that accurate?

No it is not DSP at all. It is not an enhancement feature either. It is an equalizer. Some receivers like mine adjust the center and surrounds to sound more like the main speakers. More sophisticated receivers adjust all the speakers to sound better by making adjustments against the rooms acoustics. Apart from a regular graphic equalizer that has a set number and values of frequency bands that can be adjusted, the parametric EQ can make several adjustments with a much broader range of values of adjustment to be able to more pinpoint the band that needs adjustment. More sophisticated receivers will be able to make more adjustments have better resolution of adjustments to choose from than the less sophisticated.


This is all done by the receiver with the information it receives from the microphone that is placed in the primary listening position or positions. It's great as it can greatly improve sound if you're not able to treat the room as well as you want to because of WAF or other reasons. I don't have that problem, but I can't do extremely nerdy treatments because I rent. On my receiver I have a choice to use only a center speaker 5 band graphic EQ to help adjust my center to sound closer to my mains or use the PEQ which adjust the center and surrounds via the microphone analyzer, or even turn it all off. Once you have it, you'll wonder how you did without it. The Onkyo 606 would be a great pick for all the tools you need.
 

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The best consumer version of Audyssey is MultEQ XT. Since it works in the time domain, it can help out ALL of the listening positions, taming down ringing tones. XT uses hundreds of filters for very good resolution, but is not a substitute for treating a room. However, apply XT, after properly positioning LP, speakers, and treating the room, and you're in for something special.


AFAIK, the most affordable way to get XT is how I've done. A refurbed Onkyo 805. OTOH, not all XT implementions are equal, AFAIK; there can be greater filtering resolutions depending on the model, at least that's what I've been led to believe.


btw, Mr Audio, just because you rent does not mean you cannot treat your room. You don't have to make a single hole in the wall either while doing it.


my thoughts on importance of SQ:


Room, speaker positioning, listener positioning, speakers, electronics.


Room includes treatments, or lack thereof, and EQ, or lack thereof.


However, someone who's taught me a lot about acoustics here would probably put LP as #1. I was just offering my own experiences. I have separate dedicated HT and stereo, and have set them up in different rooms in the last couple of years. I've also bought hundreds of pounds of treatments earlier this year as well. XT was some serious icing on the cake, after that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson /forum/post/15423832


Wow. While I agree that we have no control over the recording (except by choosing it or not), I am amazed that you think that changing among any of many competent electronics options (aside from EQ) will have less of an impact than choosing among comparably sized/priced speakers or among the wildly variable room setups, even just among the ones posted on AVS!


How about swapping a pair of Klipschs for a pair of PSBs?


How about that nice Florida room posted recently with its tile floor and window walls covering 3/4 of the total wall surface?


Less influence than swapping a Denon receiver for an Integra receiver?

Kal, in general I agree with what you're saying. But the OP is complaining about listening fatigue. And if the source components are sub-par, then everything else down the chain will just enhance that. The speakers could still be a problem. But he said he has already tried different speakers.
 

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Can you post a pic of the room? How did you determine the FR characteristics of the room at your listening position?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar /forum/post/15428162


But the OP is complaining about listening fatigue. And if the source components are sub-par, then everything else down the chain will just enhance that.

But the idea that the source components are sub-par is a presumption. It could be true, especially with older components. But it might not be.

Quote:
The speakers could still be a problem. But he said he has already tried different speakers.

It's possible that he tends to be attracted to speakers that sound great in the store, but tend to be fatiguing at home.


Also, there are rooms that are fatiguing with just about any speaker.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar /forum/post/15428162


Kal, in general I agree with what you're saying. But the OP is complaining about listening fatigue. And if the source components are sub-par, then everything else down the chain will just enhance that. The speakers could still be a problem. But he said he has already tried different speakers.

Perhaps all the wrong ones for his room which, I suspect, is the real culprit.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson /forum/post/15430784


Perhaps all the wrong ones for his room which, I suspect, is the real culprit.

And all suspicions are possible. I'm just putting in my 2 cents from my own experiences. I went through a similar problem several years ago. And following the conventional wisdom of this forum, I started with room acoustics, and then moved to speakers, spending a lot of money on the way. In the end, the biggest culpret turned out to be my amplifiers. The experience also showed me that the 'all amplifiers sound the same' crowed here, are dead wrong.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar /forum/post/15431838


And all suspicions are possible. I'm just putting in my 2 cents from my own experiences. I went through a similar problem several years ago. And following the conventional wisdom of this forum, I started with room acoustics, and then moved to speakers, spending a lot of money on the way. In the end, the biggest culpret turned out to be my amplifiers. The experience also showed me that the 'all amplifiers sound the same' crowed here, are dead wrong.

That same crowd also says that not all amplifiers are adequately capable of driving all speakers. Merry XMas and Happy New Years, Rutgar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu Gai /forum/post/15431904


That same crowd also says that not all amplifiers are adequately capable of driving all speakers. Merry XMas and Happy New Years, Rutgar

Yeah, there's always a caveat! And Merry XMas and Happy New Years to you too, Chu!



(BTW, I just showed 'Indecent Proposal' to my brother and his wife... Big Hit!)
 
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