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 Post subject: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2024 12:24 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:59 am
Posts: 9
We've had a somewhat low-fi setup running using Stereo Tool for a couple of years now, and it's done well. We have been toying with doing another station and playing more modern music (70s-80s) and with all my sandboxing I'm dealing with a lot of ear fatigue...I don't think it's EQ as I've got anything related to EQ turned off or at 0db so it must be the amount of limiting/clipping. Does anybody experience this with Stereo Tool and, if so, what do you do? It seems like any preset I try gets the same result. I've checked my source material and all of that, most of which is FLAC ripped from CDs here.


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2024 2:52 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:44 pm
Posts: 803
Location: Texas, USA
What presets are you using? Are you using studio monitors/headphones?

Listening fatigue can stem from any number of issues depending on processing and the listener. For example, I get subtle headaches from loud sub-bass for too long that develop more intensely for a short time after I stop (I can wake up the next morning with it pounding). So identifying the individual thing that's causing the fatigue can also be a challenge.


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2024 2:55 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:59 am
Posts: 9
Quote:
What presets are you using? Are you using studio monitors/headphones?

Listening fatigue can stem from any number of issues depending on processing and the listener. For example, I get subtle headaches from loud sub-bass for too long that develop more intensely for a short time after I stop (I can wake up the next morning with it pounding). So identifying the individual thing that's causing the fatigue can also be a challenge.
It's my own recipe that started with one of the presets (can't recall which) and I've adjusted as I've come back to this several times over the last year trying to solve it. And you're right; I can't quite figure out what it is although I say I suspect it's related to the overdrive that the multi-bands are doing and the inherent clipping that results.


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2024 3:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:44 pm
Posts: 803
Location: Texas, USA
I don't know if this will affect your fatigue, but you can try out the very recent Adaptive multiband mode on your older preset and see if it helps.
In 10.21, it's found in the Multiband under Miscellaneous (expand the > and change the type to Adaptive).
It'll likely need to be adjusted to sound correct, however.

If this doesn't help, I would suggest finding a new preset to tweak. The issue you're having could plausibly have been solved since you adapted the preset originally years ago.

edit: The advanced clipper is currently being tweaked in the betas. My ears aren't acute enough to notice the problems or fixes, but if you're having issues with limiting/clipping, perhaps try 10.22+ when it's out of beta soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2024 3:44 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:59 am
Posts: 9
I appreciate the feedback and definitely will try what you suggested! I’m starting to wonder if it’s the Stereo Boost since a lot of the presets use it…seems like the ones without it are stressing out my ears less. Not quite sure!


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2024 4:10 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 7:44 pm
Posts: 803
Location: Texas, USA
Quote:
I appreciate the feedback and definitely will try what you suggested! I’m starting to wonder if it’s the Stereo Boost since a lot of the presets use it…seems like the ones without it are stressing out my ears less. Not quite sure!
Interesting. Back on the sub-bass and stereo width causing fatigue topic: I notice if I'm using headphones with music mixed exclusively for speakers, without some form of bass centering or crossfeed algorithm, I'll get extra fatigue. I'm not certain of the best way to fix this in ST.

There are a few ways, such as in the clipper itself. Try Broadcasting, HD signal settings, >, enable "Reduce parts of the stereo to help low bitrate codecs" to make Center Bass function. Then open the "Stereo reduction for streaming settings..." and max out all the sliders to disable everything but the bass centering; then tweak it with "Center bass settings..." I don't know how to do this for FM, however. (edit: It's under Broadcasting, FM signal settings, Audio settings, >, Center Bass.)

Aside from that, there are crossfeed algorithms that might come included in the playback software or otherwise require a plugin. (BAD IDEA) But for FM broadcasting, I don't rightly know if it's the best idea. I don't know what people listen to radio with the most... gotta be speakers, right?

EDIT: Ah, there's also a simple checkbox under Stereo, Stereo Image, Limit Phase Differences to Center Bass. (BAD IDEA)


Last edited by MrKlorox on Wed Mar 27, 2024 12:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2024 4:04 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2023 3:39 pm
Posts: 61
Two more things you could try: the "Softer and duller" option in Advanced clipper/priorities and "Limit instead of clip".
Also make sure it doesn't use "Matrix mode" in stereo section, to me it sounds really fatiguing and I never use it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2024 7:38 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2023 3:39 am
Posts: 1
The most likely cause of ear fatigue is too much heavy processing. When the ear/brain senses very little level change in the signal, fatigue sets in as the ear/brain is being pounded by an unrelenting stream of sound. It's like being in the ring with a boxer that constantly lands punch after punch with your hands tied behind your back. It can be that bad.

Watch your output meter. If it seems that it's not moving much, you may need to crank down on the processing a bit, both compression and clipping elements. Also look at your output waveform. If it looks like there are no peaks and valleys, usually the case with heavy clipping, the same applies.

Also try to back off the bass. The trend today, especially in Hip-Hop, R&B and Rhythmic Top40 formats, is to increase the "boom" factor. It's not necessary as today's commercial recordings are already boosting bass. If the listener wants more bass, they can add it at their receiver/computer. They're going to do it anyway.

Also, these recordings are already clipped to the extreme, so backing off the clipping in your processing (as noted above) can help.

It kinda depends on the music being played as well. The more processed the original recording, the less you should be processing your signal. If you are playing a variety of music from different eras, you'll need to come up with a happy medium.

And, don't try to emulate the sound of any particular broadcast outlet. Many try, without realizing that radio listeners aren't really that happy with the way most stations sound. Every station is trying to out-process each other, trying to be the loudest thing on the dial. Just one problem of many that radio has these days.

I've used my broadcast experience to process my personal web stream. Find it at Live365.com if you want to hear it. Search for "The MUSIC People." Processed, but clean and not fatiguing. You'll never need to reach for the volume control, but your ears will not be pounded upon...

...joe patti
operations manager
WRTI Philadelphia


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 Post subject: Re: Ear Fatigue?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2024 2:57 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 3:59 am
Posts: 9
Thank you all; yes, I realize it's related to processing but really that's the point of Stereo Tool. I keep wondering if it's just the digital clipping/limiting that's wearing me out - I've had to take a few days off listening to let my ears regroup and frankly I'm starting to wonder if two solid weeks of sandboxing our station (80s music) hasn't damaged my hearing since I still feel pressure in my ears, even from listening at lower volumes.

I've tried several presets, and wound up with Unreal Engine 3, the streaming version. It seems less fatiguing than whatever I was using before (which I think was my re-tweaking of the Orban one floating around) but really to me the processing is the key to the sound I'm after - I don't think anybody will listen if it's just CD rips played one after the other with light processing, we're all after that big radio sound.

But I can't ask listeners to experience the same fatigue I'm having so not sure what the answer is. I've toyed with the idea of buying actual outboard compression or at least trying to borrow something to try to see if that is key to solving this riddle.


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