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Topic: What are 'tired ears'?

  1. #1

    What are 'tired ears'?

    Hey guys -

    When people say they need to give their ears a break, that they are tired, what exactly do they mean?

    For example, while doing this short piece today (http://www.moondogmedia.net/premonition.mp3), I stopped after about 2 hours or so. Went into the other room, and it felt a little 'congested' for lack of a better word, in my ears, for about 20 min or so.

    If you listen to the piece, it's certainly not heavy on percussion or anything, and the levels I was monitoring at were about 60 dbC on my checkmate meter.


    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media

  2. #2

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    Congested is the best description I've ever read.

    For me it's like a low-level headache. I think I lose some sensitivity in the highs as well, but overall it's a head or body feeling, rather than the experience of hearing things differently.

    I noticed that the premonition piece (nice voice, BTW!) is fairly dense (congested?) in the mids. That may have something do with the ear fatigue. I've noticed that I can listen to "thinner" music longer and louder without my ears tiring.

    I wonder if EQ'ing some subtle notches in the mids of the strings, voice and flute might not open it up for a less fatiguing experience? It would be an interesting test.

    It would also be nice to know how to avoid fatiguing an audience. Have you ever noticed how audiences leave some movies in an animated state, and from other movies people look burned out?

    There are also some frequencies that have various effects on the human body. This is especially true for ultra-low frequencies. Maybe this piece is resonating at a critical frequency. Maybe the tones modulate to create some ghost low frequencies.

    It's an interesting topic for sure!


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    between this place and that place

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    my favorite quote is my ears are bleeding, and they were from the music I just got done mixing....after listening and listening and listening to the music on your monitors on other speakers, on cd for other stereo's yours ears will bleed.

  4. #4

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Doggett
    Hey guys -

    When people say they need to give their ears a break, that they are tired, what exactly do they mean?
    Yea...my ears use to just feel "full". That is the best way I could describe it. A dull pain even at times...and this was not from the music being too loud...just that I was sitting in front of my monitors for too long in one stretch and I just could not listen any more and had to leave for a bit.

    But now with my new Blue Sky monitors with a very flat response curve, I have yet to have that problem. (Not to sound like a commercial)...but one of the biggest factors in making one's ears tired when mixing, etc...I fully believe is the quality of ones monitors combined with how "proper" ones studio setup is...with a little common sense thrown in. Before, I had the Event 20/20bas. Good for my budget at the time...but overall...not even in the same ballpark as the Blue Skys.
    Brian W. Ralston

    Check out my new FREE iPhone App! Click Here!

  5. #5

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?


    1 You keep brightening the mix because it sounds dull.

    2 You raise the level of the bass because there isn't enough bottom.

    3 You raise the strings, because they aren't loud enough.

    4 You raise the brass, because it is getting lost.

    5 You raise the woodwinds, because they are "murky."

    You look down and all faders are cranked.

    You start wondering whether this song is really that good. Maybe it needs more overdubs.


  6. #6

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    I used to call it "creeping faders" disease.

    I think you missed the worst one - you keep boosting the reverb.


  7. #7

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    ahh so a bad/untreated room can contribute to this?
    Eric Doggett
    MoonDog Media

  8. #8

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    I was told by my professors at college that most people can only listen for 30-45 minutes before their ears get tired. I have found that to genuinely accurate, give a half hour or so.


  9. #9

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Doggett
    ahh so a bad/untreated room can contribute to this?
    Absolutely. If there is a resonance in the room and the music keeps stimulating it, you will fatigue early. Especially over time, day after day.

    That doesn't mean that every untreated room will be a problem. But if it's a sharp resonance at Eb, and you tend to write in C minor...


  10. #10

    Re: What are 'tired ears'?

    Once in a while i get "mix mania" and everything just sounds wrong even though i might be listening to music for only 30 minutes or less .

    But , other times when i am focused only on the composition , i can go up to 15 hours straight from 12 to morning without any problem at all and enjoy it on the way. So i wonder if the "ears get tired" thing is really 100% right . I do start missing high's though.

    And a bit OT . Sometimes ( ouf ) i get this very weird sound effect after listening for much too long, every frequency starts annoying me and it all sounds wrong , i end up playing one high note over and over again and any harmony or second note is so disturbing i can't even explain it . I listen to that one note for ten minutes and the situation is just so sick .
    It affects my life as well afterwards, too sensitive to taste , hearing , feeling, jokes .... strange thing
    Theo Krueger - Composer


    Kontakt 2 Scripts

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