Fatigue is often mentioned on this forum, but rarely discussed. When searching the site for existing discussions i found some, but they were from 2000 - 2004. In this thread, if people participate, i hope to better understand what fatigue is, and how to avoid it, as its plaguing my enjoyment of music, and causing me a great deal of annoyance. I should also point out that this is primarily for headphone listeners, as i am one myself, and i think that listening with speakers usually wont cause too much fatiguing anyway.
So what is "fatigue"? Lets first start out with what it isnt. ie, what im not talking about.
1 - Listener fatigue: (from wikipedia)
"Listener fatigue can occur when listening for extended periods of time to certain material. The exact cause has been the subject of debate, but it is generally accepted that it can be caused by the introduction of artifacts in the program material.
This is an extension of the quantifiable psychological perception of sound, adding time-variance effects.
If listeners get fatigued when listening to a radio station they may tune out, and either consciously or unconsciously they may come to avoid listening to that station.
Data-reduction systems are another possible reason why listener fatigue can creep in. The constant quest for greater loudness, an obsession with pushing levels to the maximum, and a lack of understanding of the ways in which digital equipment can generate distortion all seem to lead to an increase in listener fatigue. However, the understanding of what causes fatigue is still relatively limited."
I admit, i dont entirely understand this, but what i got from the underlined bit, this is when you listen to something too often and consequently get bored with it. If you listen to a specific cd on replay for long enough - you wont want to listen to it anymore.
2 - Auditory fatigue: (from wikipedia)
"Auditory fatigue is defined as a temporary loss of hearing after exposure to sound. This results in a temporary shift of the auditory threshold known as a temporary threshold shift (TTS). The damage can become permanent (permanent threshold shift, PTS) if sufficient recovery time is not allowed for before contind sound exposure. When the hearing loss is rooted from a traumatic occurrence, it may be classified as noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL.
There are two main types of auditory fatigue, short-term and long-term. These are distinguished from each other by several characteristics listed individually below.
full recovery from TTS can be achieved in approximately two minutes
the TTS is relatively independent of exposure duration
TTS is maximal at the exposure frequency of the sound
recovery requires a minimum of several minutes but can take up to days
dependent on exposure duration and noise level"
As i understand it, this is what can often happen after a concert or party when the music is really loud. Im sure alot of people have encountered this, after you leave a party, all the environmental sounds seem muted, and you and your friends have to shout amongst yourselves in order to hear one another.
What I am talking about
What i mean when i say fatigue - to me, its like a dull, numb kind of pain from inside my ear. not actual, cutting pain, more like a feeling of persistent pressure from inside. if you stick a finger in your ear, all that your finger is touching is the area where i often feel this odd pressure sensation, the "walls" of your ear canal, so to speak. I have already been to the ear doctor. She said (and i swear to god this is an exact quote) "your ears are beautiful - theres nothing wrong with them". I insisted, so she sent me to a hearing test which also checked out. So physically im fine. I should also point out that im 23 years old and ther really shouldnt be anything wrong with my hearing physically.
What causes fatigue?
Upon searching google i actually didnt find much of interest, most the possible causes for fatigue i found here in old threads. Heres the list i put together of possible causes, together with my opinion of each:
Clamping force - I doubt very much this is the case, i use dt770s who are pretty well known for being very comfortable, and i dont think they clamp very hard at all.
Spl - This is of course relevant. If you listen to music at high volumes you wont only fatigue your ears but ultimately damage them too. Different volumes will be safe or unsafe according to the length of exposure. I dont feel like the volumes i listen at are excessive, and the spl meter i bought is cheap and really s***y so i cant really make a proper estimate, but i found that even when lowering the volume i listen at, even to very low levels, after an hour or two i still get fatigued.