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What causes headphone fatigue?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
post #2 of 25

Re: What causes headphone fatigue?

Listening to headphones for too long.
post #3 of 25
Listening too loud. Too much hash, grain, spittiness, abrasiveness and stridency in the highs/treble.
post #4 of 25
extreme stereoization.

That is the third word I have made up today, but I think you know what I mean.
post #5 of 25
Probably not one that will occur to many people (but I suspect owners of a certain Beyerdynamic can may agree ) but too much bass
post #6 of 25
I've never had a bass overdose fatigue problem
post #7 of 25
this coming from a person who owns dt770's.....
post #8 of 25
I certainly agree with all of the above.

If a headphone system happens to sound deficient or recessed to a listener in a particular frequency band, say the bass region for example, there's an almost irresistible urge to want to listen at higher than "ideal" volume levels sooner or later.

Likewise, the same principle applies if the headphone system happens to be poor in respect of detail reproduction.

post #9 of 25
What Old Pa said is the number one culprit of headphone fatigue. For me, listening to headphones for extended periods (more than 4-6 hours) without taking small five to ten minute breaks will cause, inevitably, some sort of ear fatigue.

I also find that a huge culprit is lack of a natural soundstage or imaging: in other words, listening to a pair of headphones without a crossfeed processor engaged on the amp is a big big source of fatigue for me. My ears tingle and I get just plain dizzy without crossfeed: over the past several years, using crossfeed has turned headphone listening into a natural experience much like speakers; whereas prior to that date, I could listen to headphones but would get all kinds of problems: side-splitting headaches, dizziness, and so on due to the blobby unnatural imaging. I think crossfeed is key in preventing fatigue.

Another big source of fatigue is unnatural brightness: if a headphone's frequency response is elevated in the upper midrange and treble, respectively, then the likelihood of there being some sort of a fatigue problem developing over a shorter period of time increases. I can listen to HD650s all day but putting on a pair of grados or beyer 770s leaves my ears ringing in under one hour.

There are other issues as well: low-quality sound is a huge culprit of ear fatigue and hearing problems for the consumer, and for some audiophiles as well. When the sound produced is harsh or much more aggressive than in real life, fatigue is very dramatic. I have this problem with beyer DT250-80s on some sources and with the CD3000 headphone, which sounds completely colored compared to a live string quartet.

Comfort is not really an issue regarding ear fatigue, but it can cause a lot of other issues such as headaches, pains on the head, and so on which is not directly related to hearing fatigue but can contribute to it psychologically.

post #10 of 25
Time. Normally, we hear things quite a distance away from our heads. Listening to speakers strapped to your head for a LONG time and its bound to happen. Volume of course plays a role.

0's and 1's. Digitalis, digititus, whatever you wanna call it.

Bad highs.

I don't seem to get blobs with good sources and good headphones, even without crossfeed.

YMMV, the best thing to do is to listen and experiment.
post #11 of 25
With isolating cans habituation is a problem. With any constant source of sensory stimulation they brain will tend to cease processing the information at conscious level, and we only become aware when the stimulus stops or changes. With speakers we usually attend to other sources of noise during an extended listening session, however with isolating earphones this switching of auditory attention is denied.

Habituation is caused by chemical changes in our neurons and it takes time for them to return to their base state. Think of your eyes adapting to a dramatic increase or decrease in light levels. For example when when you enter a building from bright sunlight it can take ten to thirty minutes before your eyes adapt fully. It's also the reason that when you boost the base or treble it seems to make a differnce to the music but after a while that change is no longer salient and all you notice is the decreased quality of the sound.
post #12 of 25
not having a sweet, but flat, tube amp. seriously, since i switched (ain't going back to solid state), listening is a joy.

one thing i've found is that the cross-feed thing is less significant than the quality of the amp.

some early 60s pop sounds a bit ping-pongy, but most decent recent stuff has believable soundstaging.

one thing you can do is get a binaural CD, and listen to it. if it still sounds like a regular CD, then your head isn't wired right. mine isn't, either. binaural recordings *should* sound out of head, but this turns out to be muchly psycho-acoustic, and some folks just don't get it.

toto in tubo
post #13 of 25
Too much of anything can cause fatigue.

With EX71s I found booming excessive bass to be very fatiguing.

With the GRADOs, and others, bright, and probably closely mic'ed music (Piano or Sax) can result in lots of listening fatigue if not listening pain.

Uncomfortable headphones (too much pressure on ears, around ears) causes fatigue and never lets you relax.

Excessive music separation, like that in old rock and roll recordings can cause fatigue. This is the kind of music where you might hear drums in the right driver, guitar in the left, and never the two shall meet in the middle.
post #14 of 25
Music that you don't really enjoy.
post #15 of 25
Originally posted by Iron_Dreamer
I've never had a bass overdose fatigue problem
Too much bass, will give you probably a good headache....
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