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EAR PAIN with newly installed home theater


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#1 of 7 glegiehn

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Posted June 06 2011 - 05:58 AM


I had a brand new set up professionally installed in my basement three weeks ago. Here's the gear:   5.1 Setup: Denon AVR-3311CI, Bowers and Wilkins Front: CM9 x2, Center: CMC2 Rear: CCM662 x2, Velodyne SC-1250 with 2x SC-IW subs, Monitor: Sharp LC-52D92U, Blue Ray Denon DBP-2012UDCI, Motorola DCT3416 I cablebox   Upon listening for about 10-15 minutes I notice a tense sensation in my ears that builds and builds to become pain and a sensation of fullness or ear popping. I find myself having to gradually increase the volume over time to be able to strain to hear. Once finished watching/listening, the sensation lasts for hours before finally going away. Putting the receiver setup on direct or pure direct helps somewhat but it's still a problem. Engaging Audessey EQ or other EQs makes it worse. It happens at all volumes. I know speakers need to be broken in, but it's been a few weeks and the problem isn't going away. At first it was just me, but now my wife is noticing it too.   Any thoughts? I want to talk to the installer from the standpoint of at least knowing a little bit of what I'm dealing with.   G.L.

#2 of 7 smithb

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Posted June 06 2011 - 06:14 AM

Had you ever listened to those speakers in another environment first to see if you liked them? I've read that some feel B&W speakers can be on the bright side. It could just be they're not the speaker for you.


But most likely it is a combination of that and your listening area. Are your floors a hard surface or carpet? Do you have a low or drop ceiling? Anything hanging on the walls? You may need to add some sound absorption treatments to your room.



#3 of 7 winniw

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Posted June 06 2011 - 06:21 PM

Are you listening at loud levels?  Do you have an SPL meter to measure the loudness?

My first thoughts are that it is too loud, but you say that it happens at all volumes.

My next thought is that it is too bright but you are not saying anything about that.  If you said that you had concrete walls and floor and the system sounded really bright, well, that would be it.

So, how big is this room, because I am wondering if all of the air being moved by the CM9 woofers and the Velodyne subs are over-pressurizing the tympanic membrane of your eardrum.  If you have a relatively small room that is relatively air tight, I could see that being a problem.


This sounds like a potentially dangerous situation for you hearing, I would try to find a remedy before doing much more listening.



#4 of 7 David Willow

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Posted June 07 2011 - 03:57 AM

Having listened to (and lusted after :D ) CM9's I'm going to guess that it is not the brightness that is causing the problem (I hate overly bright speakers and these, IMO, are not). I also listen to movies regularly at near reference levels and cannot say I have had ear pain (it is nothing like going to a rock concert for example). So my guess is you either have a poorly setup system (EQ issues), you are listening way too loud, or you have an issue with your ears. Have you (or you setup guy) run Audyssey on the Denon? I would start there and see if it helps. There's a handy Audyssey guide attached to my signature to get you started.

#5 of 7 CB750

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Posted June 07 2011 - 05:45 AM




Originally Posted by glegiehn 


  Upon listening for about 10-15 minutes I notice a tense sensation in my ears that builds and builds to become pain and a sensation of fullness or ear popping. I find myself having to gradually increase the volume over time to be able to strain to hear. Once finished watching/listening, the sensation lasts for hours before finally going away. Putting the receiver setup on direct or pure direct helps somewhat but it's still a problem. Engaging Audessey EQ or other EQs makes it worse. It happens at all volumes. I know speakers need to be broken in, but it's been a few weeks and the problem isn't going away. At first it was just me, but now my wife is noticing it too.   Any thoughts? I want to talk to the installer from the standpoint of at least knowing a little bit of what I'm dealing with.   G.L.



Something is really wrong with your installation as the hearing problems describe might result from firing a .44 Magnum handgun without hearing protection as opposed to a high end surround system that was professionally installed.    I have been listening to music for over 50 years and have never encountered anything that caused that kind of discomfort  to my ears at normal listening levels.    My advise to you is to call your installer over, explain your problems and see what they say.



#6 of 7 johng316

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Posted June 07 2011 - 09:20 AM

Is it possible you have a medical problem with your hearing?  Tinnitis?  It may have nothing to do with your gear at all, or your ears may be hyper-sensitive to certain frequencies.

Do other listeners experience the same issues, or is it just you?





#7 of 7 glegiehn

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Posted June 08 2011 - 09:09 AM

Thank you all so much for your feedback and suggestions which are all worthy of further investigation and I will pass on.


A few more facts:

The installer (who has an excellent reputation) is coming back for an evaluation.

The whole Audessey setup was run at the time of installation but I wasn't present so I'm not sure if any other additional tweaks were done afterwards.

Because some people have raised the issue of room acoustics being implicated in the problem, I should probably describe the room:

It's quite large (a 20x30 foot near rectangle). Carpet on the floors and textured 8 foot ceiling with a crossbeam across the short axis. The system and speakers are placed along the left had side (8-10 foot width) of one 20 foot wall. The couch sits about 10-12 feet back facing the system (again on the left half of the room) at about the midpoint of the room. The side speaker are in ceiling above the couch at either end. There is nothing at all on the walls at this time.


Because of the continuing ear discomfort, I'm not going to use the system much (which breaks my heart) until the installer comes back. I need to be armed with all the information I can muster before then.


Let me know what you think!


G.L.