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Better monitors and Ear Fatigue (kh120a) Studio Monitors
Old 7th August 2014
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Better monitors and Ear Fatigue (kh120a)

I am in the process of upgrading monitors from Tannoy Reveal passives and a consumer Cambridge A5 amp. I have just received a pair of KH120a to test with online month return guarantee.

The Leap up in quality is impressive, more detail everywhere more full range, better imaging etc.

There are two issues I`m having with the 120s though;

1) A sort of mud in the lower mids/ high bass even after using the dip switches for this region on the back. I think I have a re-enforcing standing wave about 60Hz though, as notch EQing 60 and 120hz (overtones?) helps quite a bit here. Room treatment required I`m sure but may be moving soon..

2) Ear fatigue. This is the issue that concerns me the most. It is like when I switch the monitors off after listening for a while there is a relief for my ears. Hard to describe but if you`ve been around an irritating high pitch electrical noise and it stops, it feels like your ears suddenly fall to rest and relief!
This is not material dependent, so even though I can hear an mp3 sounds worse than a decent CD recording, there still seems to be this "electrical sheen" there.

With 1) I am less concerned, and am sure some room treatment could go a long way. With 2) though, is this a problem I may get with a lot of higher end monitors due to extra detail? or more likely my ears are just not getting on with speaker?
Old 7th August 2014
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4tune View Post
I am in the process of upgrading monitors from Tannoy Reveal passives and a consumer Cambridge A5 amp. I have just received a pair of KH120a to test with online month return guarantee.

The Leap up in quality is impressive, more detail everywhere more full range, better imaging etc.

There are two issues I`m having with the 120s though;

1) A sort of mud in the lower mids/ high bass even after using the dip switches for this region on the back. I think I have a re-enforcing standing wave about 60Hz though, as notch EQing 60 and 120hz (overtones?) helps quite a bit here. Room treatment required I`m sure but may be moving soon..

2) Ear fatigue. This is the issue that concerns me the most. It is like when I switch the monitors off after listening for a while there is a relief for my ears. Hard to describe but if you`ve been around an irritating high pitch electrical noise and it stops, it feels like your ears suddenly fall to rest and relief!
This is not material dependent, so even though I can hear an mp3 sounds worse than a decent CD recording, there still seems to be this "electrical sheen" there.

With 1) I am less concerned, and am sure some room treatment could go a long way. With 2) though, is this a problem I may get with a lot of higher end monitors due to extra detail? or more likely my ears are just not getting on with speaker?

curious. i've had mine for over 2 years and i never get what i'd call ear fatigue from "normal" listening. it's possible they're so clean that you don't realize how loud you are listening. that happened to me once when i mixed on some big B&W 802 speakers. just fwiw...

m.
Old 7th August 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
Marty pointed out the main issue - how loud are you listening? I've drunk the CLA Kool-aid, and my listening levels are around 60-75dB.
Old 7th August 2014
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for the responses,

My listening levels are pretty moderate, I couldn`t give you a dB amount but I`m no where getting towards the clipping lights on the Neumanns.

It`s a subtle sort of thing and maybe it is just my ears getting used to hearing all the new information? but there is that sort of relaxation occuring when the sound stops which I never got with the Tannoys at any level, so it`s noticable now.
Old 7th August 2014
  #5
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

It's more of a "texture" thing in my experience, regarding fatigue. Some monitors have a metallic or hashy sort of texture that can add up after hours of listening. It will bother some, others it won't. This is why the one thing we can all give advice on yet not guarantee anybody else will like in the same way, are studio monitors.

There are a few I consider universally non-fatiguing.

War
Old 7th August 2014
  #6
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AlexK's Avatar
 

Try some speakers which don't have metal tweeters. Look for something heavily damped and 'soft driver'-y. A.K.A. ATC, Quested, Harbeth, Pro-Ac etc...

I suspect you're hearing what I also don't like about metal tweeters.
Old 7th August 2014
  #7
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK View Post
I suspect you're hearing what I also don't like about metal tweeters.
In general this kind of thing could be taken into account, however I have heard many a metal tweeter that did not cause me any personal fatigue over the years.

We should put together some kind of real test to try and average what MOST people will consider non-fatiguing, and what MOST will find harsh over time.

War
Old 7th August 2014
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
It's more of a "texture" thing in my experience, regarding fatigue. Some monitors have a metallic or hashy sort of texture that can add up after hours of listening. It will bother some, others it won't. This is why the one thing we can all give advice on yet not guarantee anybody else will like in the same way, are studio monitors.

There are a few I consider universally non-fatiguing.

War
Yes texture is certainly a good way to describe this. It`s not an ugly sound I perceive from the speakers, more like an enhancer has been slapped on the end of the signal chain, slightly lifting the sound to grab your ears attention, but when the signal goes my ears go back to rest. Tricky to fully describe

Out of interest what are the "few I consider universally non-fatiguing." ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK View Post
Try some speakers which don't have metal tweeters. Look for something heavily damped and 'soft driver'-y. A.K.A. ATC, Quested, Harbeth, Pro-Ac etc...

I suspect you're hearing what I also don't like about metal tweeters.
This did cross my mind, I may have to try a couple of these, I did have the Quested s7r`s in my sights aswell, it was just the lack of low end extension vs. the physical size of the s8r`s that put me off initially. The others, I will have to put off until saving a bit more..

Quote:
In general this kind of thing could be taken into account, however I have heard many a metal tweeter that did not cause me any personal fatigue over the years.

We should put together some kind of real test to try and average what MOST people will consider non-fatiguing, and what MOST will find harsh over time.

War
Would be interesting reading!
Old 7th August 2014
  #9
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4tune View Post
Out of interest what are the "few I consider universally non-fatiguing."?
Dome tweeter: PSI Audio

Inverted: FOCAL Solo6 (same tweeter as the Twin6, but somehow smoother!)

Horn / coaxial: PreSonus Sceptre

Ribbon: Unity Rock

all come to mind but even these will find their detractors and there are many more I am not remembering. That is at least an example of each kind, which kind of comes down to the tweeter when it comes to what most feel as fatigue.

War
Old 7th August 2014
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks War,

All good food for thought!
Old 7th August 2014
  #11
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AlexK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4tune View Post
This did cross my mind, I may have to try a couple of these, I did have the Quested s7r`s in my sights aswell, it was just the lack of low end extension vs. the physical size of the s8r`s that put me off initially. The others, I will have to put off until saving a bit more..
I wouldn't bother reading about bass-extension. You can't quantify that easily with a single number, there's a whole load of stuff going on which affects perceived bass performance (mainly the room anyhow). The way your mixes come out is ultimately the most important thing!
Old 8th August 2014
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK View Post
I wouldn't bother reading about bass-extension. You can't quantify that easily with a single number, there's a whole load of stuff going on which affects perceived bass performance (mainly the room anyhow). The way your mixes come out is ultimately the most important thing!
Sounds like it may be worth giving the s7r a go then, I`ve heard people describe them as natural sounding so they could be easier on my ears!

My current room is a bass mess anyhow, Ive just done some sine sweeps and 80Hz disappears altogether at the listening position along with the 60Hz 120Hz humps booming away
Old 8th August 2014
  #13
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FireMoon's Avatar
Metal tweeters can suffer from intermodulation affecting the "inband sound". The result can be, your typical slightly "metallic colouration" and has been the bugbear of metal domed tweeters since they were first used. Interestingly enough, Focal are generally considered to produce some of the finest metal dome tweeters that are currently available which would seem to back up Warhead's opinion. It's one of those situations where, if you are unlucky enough to have a piece of kit that's causing the distortion and have ears which are particularly susceptible to the particular distortion that's actually being generated, there's not a heap you can do. It was assumed by many designers that, because digital is 20-20 sound that this wouldn't be an issue problem is. in the real world DACs, Power Amps and other equipment that might be hooked up can generate the frequencies which then have an effect down the line that is within the human hearing range.
Old 8th August 2014
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FireMoon View Post
Metal tweeters can suffer from intermodulation affecting the "inband sound". The result can be, your typical slightly "metallic colouration" and has been the bugbear of metal domed tweeters since they were first used. Interestingly enough, Focal are generally considered to produce some of the finest metal dome tweeters that are currently available which would seem to back up Warhead's opinion. It's one of those situations where, if you are unlucky enough to have a piece of kit that's causing the distortion and have ears which are particularly susceptible to the particular distortion that's actually being generated, there's not a heap you can do. It was assumed by many designers that, because digital is 20-20 sound that this wouldn't be an issue problem is. in the real world DACs, Power Amps and other equipment that might be hooked up can generate the frequencies which then have an effect down the line that is within the human hearing range.
Yes it looks like I will have to try some other speakers to see if different designs work better for me. I`m still giving the Neumanns a go for a couple of days and then will see what the next move is.

Certainly learnt that my ears may be a bit more sensitive than I thought!
Old 8th August 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
Quote:
but there is that sort of relaxation occuring when the sound stops which I never got with the Tannoys at any level
Eve-Audio sc205 is what you are looking for.
any EVE AUDIO user out there ?
Old 8th August 2014
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mirka View Post
Eve-Audio sc205 is what you are looking for.
any EVE AUDIO user out there ?
I did consider the Eves but unfortunately they are rear firing ports and really I wanted front firing. With my old Tannoys I ended up sticking some rolled up socks in the ports to clear up the smearing/ booming. My current speaker placement is quite close to the walls.

In the kh120 is the porting seems far superior to the Tannoys. I am sure a lot of this is due to design/price but am still a bit wary of rear porting.
Old 8th August 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
If you are able to listen to the Focal solo 6, you might consider "breaking the bank".
Old 8th August 2014
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mirka View Post
If you are able to listen to the Focal solo 6, you might consider "breaking the bank".
I`m certainly not averse to a bit more saving/spending if required, as I hope to stay with these monitors a long while. At least I`ve had the Tannoys for about 10 years so if that`s anything to go by..
Old 9th August 2014
  #19
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Inceptic's Avatar
 

What's your budget?

I used to get ear fatigue all the time on my first monitors, the HS-50m's. I upgraded to PSI A21-M's with great success in that regard (and many others of course!). Not an easy purchase though, as they are quite expensive.
Old 9th August 2014
  #20
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This is what makes monitors so personal. I don't find the kh120s fatiguing at all and enjoy their "honesty" and imaging. I like them more than the focal solo 6s, but I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than the other. You've got plenty of time to give the kh120s a good go. If they're not for your ears, don't worry about it! Try a few different options out until you're happy. The good thing is that you're keeping your mind open and remaining analytical and impartial.
Old 9th August 2014
  #21
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inceptic View Post
What's your budget?

I used to get ear fatigue all the time on my first monitors, the HS-50m's. I upgraded to PSI A21-M's with great success in that regard (and many others of course!). Not an easy purchase though, as they are quite expensive.
If I "had" to, I could probably stretch to the A17-M . This would put me in Geithain RL906 territory aswell, but at the moment this is kind of last resort stuff . Though when you look at the cost spread over a hopeful 10 year period, it does ease the pain a bit!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
This is what makes monitors so personal. I don't find the kh120s fatiguing at all and enjoy their "honesty" and imaging. I like them more than the focal solo 6s, but I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than the other. You've got plenty of time to give the kh120s a good go. If they're not for your ears, don't worry about it! Try a few different options out until you're happy. The good thing is that you're keeping your mind open and remaining analytical and impartial.
I am even open to returning to the KH`s if I end up going around the houses and finding out this is a problem more with high levels of detail for my ears.

They are certainly multiples better for hearing EQ changes than the Tannoys. I am finding I am trying to fit the mid range together better rather than excessive scooping I ended up doing before. It`s like you realise the instruments can sound acceptable around 400Hz +, rather than being this blur that you`re throwing random cuts at in the hope you`ll magically sound like your reference track

Having said that, if I can find a speaker that makes me want to sit and work with it, and is equally useful as a tool then I shall be a happier chap!
Old 9th August 2014
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

UPDATE:

Just to confuse things; I had also bought an SM Pro passive monitor controller:

SM Pro Audio M-Patch 2.1 - Thomann UK

It had a fault with the master volume fader so I was going to have to send it back anyway. It would only lower the left speaker for most of the range but was fine when left on maximum and using the input volume knobs to control levels.

While boxing up and before boxing the 120`s I thought I`d give them a try direct from the soundcard. (I`d done this originally but there is audible buzz when doing so which was improved while routing through the SM Pro, so left things after).

Apart from the buzz I`m getting from the soundcard when plugged in directly, there is certainly a change/ improvement in sound. The bass region in particular seems more balanced and cleaner. I`ve also lowered the input level on the back of the monitors which has helped reduce the buzz.

Anyhow before i jump to any conclusions I`ll give my ears a rest and see if the fatigue improves with some later listening.
Old 10th August 2014
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
I don't find the kh120s fatiguing at all and enjoy their "honesty" and imaging. I like them more than the focal solo 6s, but I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than the other.
To me the Solo 6 are way better and less fatiguing than the Kh120.
Old 31st August 2014
  #24
Why dont you try sonodyne srp ?
Old 31st August 2014
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monitorlove View Post
Why dont you try sonodyne srp ?
I think some Quested S7r are next on my audition list, I just got a SPL Crimson to replace the SM Pro box, so a little more saving and I can see how I get on there.
Old 31st August 2014
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4tune View Post
I think some Quested S7r are next on my audition list, I just got a SPL Crimson to replace the SM Pro box, so a little more saving and I can see how I get on there.
The new srp800 seems to have good reviews. You might want to audition them as well
Old 31st August 2014
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monitorlove View Post
The new srp800 seems to have good reviews. You might want to audition them as well
Unfortunately the 800`s are rear ported, which I am generally trying to avoid. Something that might appeal to me is the 400`s as a secondary pair at some time in the future, though the SRP are still not available in most UK dealers at the moment.
Old 31st August 2014
  #28
oh right. just suggested it. you could probably try out presonus sceptre s8 too then. They are getting great reviews.
Old 31st August 2014
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monitorlove View Post
oh right. just suggested it. you could probably try out presonus sceptre s8 too then. They are getting great reviews.
Yes, all suggestions are welcome, thanks . The Sceptres are certainly another option I`m open to.

The SOS and Musictech reviews both seemed pretty favourable. I think for my room the s6 would be better, so maybe after the S7r I`ll try them if I don`t click with the Questeds.
Old 31st August 2014
  #30
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SPL crimson and Quested s7r is what I have - pure pleasure and great translation! for low bass I use headphones/analyzers. my room is not perfectly treated down in the sub bass region anyway so I wouldnt really benefit from lower extension in speakers. but thinking of upgrading to s8r or 2108 one day when I fix the room. and Im interested in the sonodyne sdr400 as well as secondary speakers!
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