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Focal Spirit Pro, tinnitus and alternatives
Old 14th September 2015
  #1
Focal Spirit Pro, tinnitus and alternatives

Sorry in advance for starting yet another best-headphones thread. But I have some questions quite specific for a certain model, namely Focal Spirit Pro.

These cans certainly live up to all the hype that followed them a year or so ago. Sound is exactly what I want for checking mixes and doing late-night work on my pop tracks. Problems are
  • Tinnitus. It worsened significantly at the same time as I got the Spirit Pros. I know that correlation is not causation but I still suspect that the unflattering sound made me inadvertently turn the volume up too much and that the great transient response had bad impact in my hearing.
  • Discomfort. As a lot of people have said, they are really not comfy at all...

What I like with them, apart from the sound is that they can be driven by my iPhone (so that I can learn their sound by listening to music on the move) and that they a closed-back (not as important as sound and mobility, though).

So the questions:
  • Does anybody else recognize the tinnitus situation?
  • And here it comes: what would be good alternatives? Same sound plus ability to drive with iPhone. Preferably under or well under 1000 USD.
Old 14th September 2015
  #2
Although it may be out there, I am not aware of any study that shows a direct correlation of driver proximity to the eardrum and hearing loss. A lot of people talk about ear buds, IEMs, headphones, etc. as causing a higher degree of hearing loss than traditional monitoring, but that's usually based on the foundation of listening to them louder than traditional monitoring. And, the reason for listening louder was to compete with outside noises. In any case, if you're finding you have to listen to them relatively loud, don't use them.
Old 14th September 2015
  #3
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I have the Focal Spirit Pro's, and don't suffer from tinnitus, and in no way have they caused my ears to ring whatsoever (and i often listen at med-high levels).

That said, I do find the sound very forward and very pronounced in the high end. I like to switch between it and a Sennheiser 650 as its soundstage is much more relaxed and not so tight.

And yes, they fit very tight on your head - I think this is widely recognized,,,it fits very tightly on average sized heads, I couldn't imagine someone with a big head - I would think the pinching against the ears in of itself would eventually caused stinging pain.

I am also looking at some other HP's...it's hard @ the $1k range to be substantially better than the Focals or the 650's, so I'm considering an Audeze LCD-X, along with a Bryston BPA-1 as the HP amp to drive it.
Old 14th September 2015
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12tone View Post
I have the Focal Spirit Pro's, and don't suffer from tinnitus, and in no way have they caused my ears to ring whatsoever (and i often listen at med-high levels).

That said, I do find the sound very forward and very pronounced in the high end. I like to switch between it and a Sennheiser 650 as its soundstage is much more relaxed and not so tight.

And yes, they fit very tight on your head - I think this is widely recognized,,,it fits very tightly on average sized heads, I couldn't imagine someone with a big head - I would think the pinching against the ears in of itself would eventually caused stinging pain.

I am also looking at some other HP's...it's hard @ the $1k range to be substantially better than the Focals or the 650's, so I'm considering an Audeze LCD-X, along with a Bryston BPA-1 as the HP amp to drive it.
Just because you don't have it doesn't mean you won't get it, and once you do, there's no turning back. There is no cure for tinnitus (even though some will say there is). And trust me, you don't want it.

I own both the phones you mentioned, and there is no comparison whatsoever. The X crushes the Spirit Pros it's not even funny. The biggest difference I hear is the speed, clarity, and lack of distortion in the highs, among many other benefits. However, many can't take the weight over extended listening sessions. I'd suggest any weight training that works the neck Lol.
Old 14th September 2015
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by thedberg View Post
And here it comes: what would be good alternatives? Same sound plus ability to drive with iPhone. Preferably under or well under 1000 USD.
Thinking of your tinnitus remark, one of the strengths of my closed back Sony MDR-7520 is that they sound fantastic at very low levels (too). It's hard to explain, but even at extremely low volume, the image stay crystal clear, dynamic and warm. The bass is strong and present. It's like they're linear no matter the input level. I think it has to do with the angled drivers distance to the ear. And maybe also because of zero distortion and very agile drivers. I can mix at very low levels, something I've not felt comfortable doing with other headphones. They are 24 Ohms and very easily driven. Unfortunately, they are not available new in Europe any more. Some find the comfort not so good, due to the ear pads being too shallow. There is a fix for that, though. Just a heads up on the 7520.
Old 14th September 2015
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aural Endeavors View Post
However, many can't take the weight over extended listening sessions. I'd suggest any weight training that works the neck Lol.
Wusses...chicken-necked wusses at that...
Old 14th September 2015
  #7
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Testing headphones on damages it not as easy as with monitors.
Old 14th September 2015
  #8
Glad to hear that there's no indication of the Focals causing tinitus among others! This means that my problems are most likely coincidental.

But no real idea for good replacement mobile/mixing combo in the price range (will look out for the Sonys though). I'll keep on searching. Thanks for the input, all!
Old 16th September 2015
  #9
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Any pair of headphones can damage your ears. As long as you don´t send them in you can´t know if they are working correctly.
Old 16th September 2015
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by lllubi View Post
Any pair of headphones can damage your ears. As long as you don´t send them in you can´t know if they are working correctly.
Sorry, but I don't really follow. Send them in to where? If you mean "send them to the manufacturer" - how could they assess whether the headphones will damage the ears? It will depend on how loud you play plus the fact that the tolerance level will differ between persons.
Old 16th September 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aural Endeavors View Post
Just because you don't have it doesn't mean you won't get it, and once you do, there's no turning back. There is no cure for tinnitus (even though some will say there is). And trust me, you don't want it..
There is a new magnetic pulse treatment for tinnitus which reportedly has promising results as at least attenuating tinnitus. It's still in its early stages though.

Magnetic Pulses Might Provide Long-Lasting Tinnitus Relief: No, It Will Not Suck Your Brain Out : LIFE : Tech Times
Old 16th September 2015
  #12
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I heard about the magnetic solution. It'll still be a few years out, most likely. Also, start listening to music at a lower volume. Yes, it sucks in the beginning, but once your ears adjust, you may even grow to like it. That and you won't damage your hearing. Cochlear implants aren't there yet, so you on,y have one set of ears, use them wisely.
Old 16th September 2015
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thedberg View Post
Sorry, but I don't really follow. Send them in to where? If you mean "send them to the manufacturer" - how could they assess whether the headphones will damage the ears? It will depend on how loud you play plus the fact that the tolerance level will differ between persons.
Overview - Sonarworks

Send your pair to the guys of sonarworks. They will tell you if your headphones are working properly. With damaged headphones you don´t have to listen loud to get problems with your ears.
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