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Ear pain mystery - Denon D2000 and Senn HD-650 but NOT ATH-M50 or PX100

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm trying to get to the bottom of why some 'phones are making my ears hurt.


The short version is that within minutes of listening to Denon D2000s at moderate (and even fairly low) levels I develop a an ache in the middle ear/ear canal which is best described as a feeling of fullness at the ear drum similar to pressure equalisation issues that might occur during airplane take off and landing. I think it's fairly likely that this is some form of acoustic reflex response (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_reflex) - certainly presents like that and the discomfort can last for hours after listening.


Anyway this only happens with the D2000s and not with ATH-M50s or Senn. PX100s. This is also not my first attempt to upgrade my headphones. I have previously tried to move from the Senn. PX100s to the Senn HD-650s but suffered the same ear pain problem. I put this down to the clamping force of the HD-650s and ending up getting the M50s which have served me well for the last year. Because the Denons are very comfortable and have a very low clamping force I'm now looking for other explanations.


Looking at the specs the only thing that stands out are the stated frequency responses for these cans:


D2000 = 5 - 45,000 Hz

HD-650 = 10 - 39,500 Hz


ATH-M50 = 15 - 28,000 Hz

PX100 = 15 - 27,000 Hz


Could it be this extended freq responses of the D2000s/HD-650s that are getting me? I know this seems unlikely but I'm struggling to come up with other reasons.


Systems details: Mac> iTunes/Audirvana (sometimes Spotify premium) > Fiio E17 > cans.. (the D2000s have about 80 hours on them by now with no change to my response to them).


The Fiio specs state the freq responses of the E17 DAC to be 10 - 20,000 Hz so perhaps it isn't even possible to be getting 'meaningful/significant' signal beyond this range.


I really like D2000s and would love to make them work for me. 


Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? 


Is there any way to reliably filter out high and low frequencies so I test whether this might be a cause? (Apologies if this last question is an easy one).


Many thank in advance for any help or advice you can give.






post #2 of 12

Try using a program called Sinegen to see if certain frequencies are bothering you. I was going to say it could be suction from the seal of the ear cup, but the HD650 is open and that wouldn't make sense...

post #3 of 12

I wonder if if is related to the strong magnets used in modern headphones since it does not seem to be related to sound levels, unless your equipment has a high frequency ultrasonic oscillation going on. You would need a scope to check.

post #4 of 12

unless your equipment has a high frequency ultrasonic oscillation going on. You would need a scope to check.

Another option is to listen from another sound source and see if that makes a difference.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Many thanks for these suggestions. When I was having problems with the HD-650s I was mainly using a 3rd Gen iPod and Graham Slee Voyager amp. I suspect it's not the source but I should definitely check this again, it's easy enough to do.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Dear all,



Thanks for your input on this. I've tried different sources and there's still something different about the D2000 that leads me to get fatigued more quickly.


I think it's simply that I'm somehow deciding on comparative volume for these different cans by referencing a frequency range that is slightly less prominent with D2000s which is leading me to listen at an overall higher SPL (leading to fatigue etc).


If that's even possible.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

p.s. regarding my question about frequency responses of these different cans.


I found this tool from the University of New South Wales:




It gave me a good idea of the range of frequencies I can actually perceive. Was a bit of an eye-opener.


Use with care (i.e. heed their warning about starting at low volume and working up).

post #8 of 12

I feel maybe the same pain with the Denon. I can't put my finger on what might be the reason but it is definitely not a physical force or clamp. Without playing music I can set for hours with no discomfort... but when playing music, I get tired of them after few minutes.


I am not sure if this related to other closed/open headphones or being sensitive to some freq, but I never experience this with any IEM including bassy, harsh, sibilant earphones.

post #9 of 12

On the e17 you can eq the treble and the bass, so you should def. check that out! try to lower them with around 3-8db and see if that is the problem then.
I do know what you are talking about! I am currently useing both the Phonak Audeo PFE 122 (In ear) and Beyerdynamics DT 770 80ohm pro.

The Beyer are way more fatiguegin (someone spell it for me) than the PFE 122. And the Beyer are prominent in the treble and in the bass, kinda like the D2000. Makes me thinking about not getting the D2000 anyways:(

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Mikkelmmk93 - thanks for your post. I have tried playing with eq, but probably not enough.


The main thing I wanted to say was please don't discount the D2000s - remember I also had this problem with the Senn. HD-650, another headphone with who knows how many happy owners.


As I mention above, I suspect that with the D2000s I was listening louder than I thought I was and probably for a little longer than I realised before noticing problems. Thereafter, the fatigue would return pretty quickly - I think I'd just overdone it during the initial auditioning of the Denons and the Senn.s before them. After giving my ears a rest for the past week or so I've come back to the Denons and given myself a little more time to relax into the different presentation they have compared to the M50s and PX100s.


So far I'm getting on a lot better.


So in summary, the D2000s are great 'phones, please don't give them a miss on my account..

post #11 of 12

Another thing to consider is that this maybe a neurological issue as well. Perhaps its just that you are use to a certain kind of configuration. The introduction of something new or even a trigger could have set it off. I own both the HD650 and Denon 2000's and they are probably the most comfortable headphones I own.



post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yes, I think this could be a factor too. Certainly a relatively long break and then coming back to listening just to the Denons rather than obsessively switching between cans during auditioning has helped.



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