Ear Pain from ESL's.

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ttocs

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I wonder if Dirac does a better job at limiting where it applies its corrections. I was using ARC with my Anthem AVM 60 and even if I lowered the max correction frequency, it still seemed to have an undesirable effect on overall dynamics. I would like to use ARC only on my surround channels, but there's no way to completely exclude the FL/FR channels, so there's always some amount of correction applied when ARC is engaged.
Dirac uses "Curtains" to limit what it is allowed to control. I just drag the upper limit curtain left to 300Hz, and it won't touch any frequencies above that. So the stat panel gets nothing, and the woofers get corrected.

I first use ARC for the woofers prior to running Dirac. This has a much better result than either ARC or Dirac alone. There are some caveats however.

I drag the lower limit curtain all the way left to include all frequencies down to 0Hz. Then I add a Control Point as low as possible in Hz and drag it down as low as possible in Level. After that, I drag a Control Point, that Dirac already established at around 17Hz, up to about 18Hz. So the bottom most two Control Points are 18Hz and 0Hz with no other points between them. This creates an "out of bounds" area where all frequencies below 18Hz are squelched so my precious woofers in the Expressions are not bothered by frequencies lower than I want them to produce.

So, Dirac will calibrate from 18Hz up to 300Hz and not above, and will drop the level on any frequency below 18Hz down to zero dB so the woofers don't get bothered. Dirac is used for what it does very well, I don't hear anything odd, and the panels have all the life they can have without correction.

I learned about using the curtains in Dirac by following instruction by a fellow forum member on another forum. Thanks marcl !
 

twich54

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Thank you. Any merit to the Magnolia sales specialists claim on having to replace all my cables to Audioquest and needing a power conditioner?

OMG, I read this and damn near fell off my chair........ Magnolia and Audioquest, talk about snake oil BS wrapped up in one nice bundle !!
 
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Hi all, I just bought new Martin Logan ESL's and ESLC in a home theater setup, or in stereo listening for music. My wife and I are experiencing severe ear pain even at low volume. I'm being told it could be the brightness of the speakers and may need to adjust the Audyseey settings.

My equipment is a new Marantz 6015, Outlaw 7000x amp, and monoprice CL2 14AWG wires and monolith RCA cables for preouts.
Im connected with the cable going straight into the terminals on the back of the speakers, and banana plugs on the amp side.
Everything is in phase and I never had any issues with these cables with my old speakers.
The amp and receiver are new however.
L/R are set to -2.5, and center channel is set to -1.5 with dialogue boost up to 5 on the Marantz.
Audyessy is set to Flat as the other settings just don't sound great. L/R bypass would be my next choice, but then the center channel does not sound balanced.

My misses and I's ears both hurt and feel inflamed and swollen from watching a movie on relatively low volume yesterday. I'm having to wear ear plugs throughout the day to give me ears a chance to rest. Would appreciate any guidance, especially from anyone whose had these issues. I have to believe theres a way to enjoy these speakers!
I just bought a pair of ESL11A and have exactly the same problem. My ears are really hurting. The ESL11 was initially connected to a NuPrime ST-10 power amp and later to a Denon AVC-X6700H AV receiver. The same problems exist for both amplifiers. I also put large acoustic foam panels behind the ESL11A which is about 5 feet from the front wall. I had Focal Aria 936 speakers which never gave me such problems.
 
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Russr

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Probably been said before, but if you're going to spend a whack of $$$ on an amazing set of speaker, do yourself a favor and research and buy a solid amp that can handle low impedance loads. The specs for the "Denon AVC-X6700H" receiver, on the Denon website state: Output Connectors: 4 - 16 Ohms and "Dynamic output" range maxes out at "250 Watts X 2 channels at 4 ohms".

You would be FAR better served using an older, second hand Anthem or Bryston or Krell or (etc.) than the Denon. In my opinion, you run the risk of damaging your equipment driving ESLs with most 1-box solutions.
 

Tmort

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I just bought a pair of ESL11A and have exactly the same problem. My ears are really hurting. The ESL11 was initially connected to a NuPrime ST-10 power amp and later to a Denon AVC-X6700H AV receiver. The same problems exist for both amplifiers. I also put large acoustic foam panels behind the ESL11A which is about 5 feet from the front wall. I had Focal Aria 936 speakers which never gave me such problems.
Following Russr’s lead here, perhaps the 11A’s need more refined amps to drive them, could you perhaps borrow an amp such as those he recommended and see if it resolves the issue? The dealer who sold you the 11A’s should have something of quality to loan you. The fact that it’s bothering both you and your wife suggests this is very real and not something just one of you has a susceptible hearing for.
 

Jazzman53

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The ear pain could be an unstable amp distorting under the low impedance load, or perhaps it's just that ESLs tend to have a rising frequency response that can be downright harsh if not equalized away. The response around 2.5kHz - 3kHz can be especially harsh.

I tune out harshness in my ESLs (not ML's) by playing the tune "Holiday" by Erin Bode and tweaking the EQ until it sounds right. Erin has a crystal clear, high voice that cuts diamonds if the system is tuned hot. Once I take the edge off Erin's voice, nothing else I'm likely to play will sound harsh. I follow that up with Dave Brubeck's "Take Five", and if Morello's hi hats sound OK, then I know I haven't cut too much.

I tune with a DSP crossover and I find that applying a parametric EQ centered at 2.7kHz and pulled down about 3 or 4db does the trick for my system.

I would give this a try (with Erin Bode) before replacing the amp.
 

JonFo

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I find that applying a parametric EQ centered at 2.7kHz and pulled down about 3 or 4db does the trick for my system
Interesting, as that's right near the 2.5KHz of the 'BBC dip' baked into the Audyssey 'Reference' curve. I run with that mode enabled on my rig, as it sounds better than flat.
 

audio4me

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I just bought a pair of ESL11A and have exactly the same problem. My ears are really hurting. The ESL11 was initially connected to a NuPrime ST-10 power amp and later to a Denon AVC-X6700H AV receiver. The same problems exist for both amplifiers. I also put large acoustic foam panels behind the ESL11A which is about 5 feet from the front wall. I had Focal Aria 936 speakers which never gave me such problems.
I also had some initial brightness with my esl13a's but not to the degree you have. I think this could help. Try towing your speakers out so they are almost but not straight. That will redirect some of the direct energy from your speakers to your ears and should help a lot. Second, you might also try adjusting the rake in either direction and see what affect that has. The idea is to point the speakers so you do not get the direct beam of sound. That should help.

Amplifiers can also play a role. I tried several that seemed on the bright side and ended up with a tube McIntosh preamp and a solid state McIntosh power amp. Not saying you have to go to that level but amplifiers do play a role to some degree in what you are describing. Adjusting for more toe out will make a noticeable difference. Rake will too.
 
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Probably been said before, but if you're going to spend a whack of $$$ on an amazing set of speaker, do yourself a favor and research and buy a solid amp that can handle low impedance loads. The specs for the "Denon AVC-X6700H" receiver, on the Denon website state: Output Connectors: 4 - 16 Ohms and "Dynamic output" range maxes out at "250 Watts X 2 channels at 4 ohms".

You would be FAR better served using an older, second hand Anthem or Bryston or Krell or (etc.) than the Denon. In my opinion, you run the risk of damaging your equipment driving ESLs with most 1-box so
Thank you MANY OF YOU for your advices.
I will buy an new amplifier to drive the ESL11A but do not know what works well with this pair of speakers.
My audition of the Anthem STR, Accuphase and Audia Flight integrated amplifiers supported the idea that you get what you pay for.
Has anyone used Luxman and Michi integrated amplifies with the ESL11A?
Do you think the ear pain is more likely to be caused by the amplifier or the Streamer/DAC?
Thanks.
 
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I also had some initial brightness with my esl13a's but not to the degree you have. I think this could help. Try towing your speakers out so they are almost but not straight. That will redirect some of the direct energy from your speakers to your ears and should help a lot. Second, you might also try adjusting the rake in either direction and see what affect that has. The idea is to point the speakers so you do not get the direct beam of sound. That should help.

Amplifiers can also play a role. I tried several that seemed on the bright side and ended up with a tube McIntosh preamp and a solid state McIntosh power amp. Not saying you have to go to that level but amplifiers do play a role to some degree in what you are describing. Adjusting for more toe out will make a noticeable difference. Rake will too.
Do you find a tube pre-amp to make the ESL13A a lot more pleasant for listening? I have never use a tube amp but is considering one now. Thanks.
 

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The post above is #50 in the thread, and without reviewing the prior messages I'll risk repeating what's already been said.

Before buying an amp, I'd look at the room effect and minimize any glaring (pun intended) issues. (As an experiment, you might try hanging a couple small rugs on the wall behind the speakers.). Next, in case these are quite new, I'd make sure they have at least 100 hours and prefer 200+ hours of break-in play at moderate volume levels.

*Then* the next step for me would be evaluating amps. We have a huge thread here discussing that.

In short, good tube amps are fantastic with ESLs, but it can be expensive to replace tubes every year or two. @Big Dog RJ is in your neck of the woods, or at least more so than those of us north of the equator. Perhaps he can suggest some used amp resellers you might consider, or other decent amps available in Australia, with good support.

Edit to add one more comment regarding amps. I've made major changes to my system in the last 18-24 months. I have Schiit Vidar amps, Odyssey Audio Kismet monoblocks, and PS Audio M1200 monoblocks playing at various positions. The PS Audios are Class-D and have a tube input stage, the others are all solid state. *All* of them sound excellent driving my "vintage" Aerius speakers which were re-paneled in 2020. The Odyssey Audio amps are a significant improvement over the Vidar, but the Vidar was not at all unpleasant or abrasive with my speakers. I can't say yet how the Odyssey Audio amps compare with the PS Audio, which probably are now fully broken-in, but both have been truly wonderful.
 
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audio4me

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Do you find a tube pre-amp to make the ESL13A a lot more pleasant for listening? I have never use a tube amp but is considering one now. Thanks.
I tried several solid state amps that sounded a little harsh to me. The mcintosh mc462 is to my liking. I also like the mc275 tube amp. The combo of the mac c2300 tube preamp and either the mc462 or mc275 removed the harshness to my ears. Adding room treatments and toeing out a little more than martin logan suggests helped as well. Now they sound great!
 

Russr

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Hi folks.

I think we need to draw a pretty thick line between pain-inducing speaker performance, and subtleties of preferences (Class A, AB, D, Tube, etc.).

The OP has a problem. Let's start out with (simple) troubleshooting.. not disappearing down rabbit holes that have not been settled in 100 years of Hi Fidelity nit-picking (and BTW, I am a terrific nit-picker, but this is not what this post is about).

So, what to do?

1) yes, it is possible that the the speakers not being "run in" nicely COULD be contributing to things... so carry on burning them in.
2) Having an amplifier (Receiver) that is in all likelihood clipping at mid-higher frequencies is a STRONG contender for causing your discomfort. Start here. Get a nice, solid amp (something rated down to 2 Ohms, and preferably weighs 50lb-plus (big power supply, big capacitors). Buy, borrow, maybe even 2nd hand on eBay or some-such. Not sure if Bryston is available in your area... they are a solid amp, used in pro studios, and have a 20 year warranty. I've bought several 10+ years old, and never had a problem. I would suggest a Bryston 4B ST or 4B SST. Rated at ~250 Watts into 8 ohms, and they can handle ML ESL impedence challenges. YES, I KNOW that there are a lot of options, but let's try help the OP get to a decent starting point so he and his family can enjoy their system ASAP. THEN he can start tweaking to his heart's content!

3) don't change a bunch of things at once. Plug the amp into the Denon's pre-outs, and see if it makes a difference. If so, start building a more total solution around this (or another combo). If not... well, post here again!

I don't see the point of trying all kinds of esoterica while troubleshooting a fundamental issue like this.

Sorry if I'm coming across too harsh or anything... I was the guy who would check the printer cable when somebody's printer would not function at work! KISS principle, right?!

All the best
 

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Just my 2cents but another contributing factor to listening "pain" is the dynamic range (DR) of the recording. I have found that recordings with DRs of 5, 4, or 3 can be painful to listen to, e.g., Madonna's "Finally Enough..." recent release which probably averages a DR of 6 but has tracks as low as 4.
"Paint peeler" IMHO!
 

audio4me

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Just my 2cents but another contributing factor to listening "pain" is the dynamic range (DR) of the recording. I have found that recordings with DRs of 5, 4, or 3 can be painful to listen to, e.g., Madonna's "Finally Enough..." recent release which probably averages a DR of 6 but has tracks as low as 4.
"Paint peeler" IMHO!
How do you determine the DR of a song?
 

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Thank you MANY OF YOU for your advices.
I will buy an new amplifier to drive the ESL11A but do not know what works well with this pair of speakers.
My audition of the Anthem STR, Accuphase and Audia Flight integrated amplifiers supported the idea that you get what you pay for.
Has anyone used Luxman and Michi integrated amplifies with the ESL11A?
Do you think the ear pain is more likely to be caused by the amplifier or the Streamer/DAC?
Thanks.

Before you go and spend lot of money on new amp [as Denon 6700 is quite OK [just check all the usual wrong setting people do - ECO, 4ohms setting [should be 8] - I would not expect it to clip at normal listening levels. I would try to do some measurements in REW, so that you understand where is the issue.

ML's are generally on the brighter side, so if this somehow combines with some acoustics/room related problem it can be as you describe.

I am not trying to say, that better amp will not improve overall SQ, and by any means - buy the best one you can afford [I personally use Purifi based amps] But underlying issue might not be with amp. and unless you have some very exotic DAC, I would not expect this to be a source of problem. DAC must be completely broken to sound so bad.
 
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Gordon Gray

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Thank you MANY OF YOU for your advices.
I will buy an new amplifier to drive the ESL11A but do not know what works well with this pair of speakers.
My audition of the Anthem STR, Accuphase and Audia Flight integrated amplifiers supported the idea that you get what you pay for.
Has anyone used Luxman and Michi integrated amplifies with the ESL11A?
Do you think the ear pain is more likely to be caused by the amplifier or the Streamer/DAC?
Thanks.
Audition one of the more powerful Luxmans , assuming budget allows, from Music Direct. 60 day money back guarantee. However, the units include a phono input. Company is known for their non hyped, musical sound. And the unit has much more power than the specs would suggest. I suspect you will keep and it does have bass / treble tone controls.

Another option is Pass Labs. Check out Reno Hi Fi for info. Many happy owners of the ML / Pass Labs combo.

Another brand that could be good for you is the Hegel. Issue is audition with money back guarantee. Maybe you can find a dealer willing consider. And it is less expensive than the Lux or Pass Labs.

And if you cannot afford a new unit, check out Audiogon. Good luck and enjoy the journey.
 
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Before you go and spend lot of money on new amp [as Denon 6700 is quite OK [just check all the usual wrong setting people do - ECO, 4ohms setting [should be 8] - I would not expect it to clip at normal listening levels. I would try to do some measurements in REW, so that you understand where is the issue.

ML's are generally on the brighter side, so if this somehow combines with some acoustics/room related problem it can be as you describe.

I am not trying to say, that better amp will not improve overall SQ, and by any means - buy the best one you can afford [I personally use Purifi based amps] But underlying issue might not be with amp. and unless you have some very exotic DAC, I would not expect this to be a source of problem. DAC must be completely broken to sound
 
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