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Synth sounds causing ear issues

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Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:22 pm
by Schattenkvlt
I've recently noticed some ear issues that seem to result from playing with software synths (Korg Legacy Collection). After a short while of playing I always get some minor pressure in to my ears which is accompanied with high frequency hiss (tinnitus) EVEN when I'm playing with a very low volume and via speakers. This really keeps puzzling me. I'm having some sort of hiss in my ears otherwise too but this seems to boost it up for a while. And it seems it's not only between my ears, cus my friend noticed that the synth made some sort of pressure feeling on her left ear too. She compared it to the feeling one gets in the aeroplane.

I've been noticing this issue especially with some of the Wavestation sounds (f.e. Southern Pole patch, which is also one my favourite one). And there is like something "extra" in many other sounds and synths too that makes my ear tired. Of course I have tried to clean the sound with EQ, but even after taking away the highest (and lowest) frequencies it seems to result the same ear irritation. It's like there still would be some nasty "extra element" in the sound that I can't really comprehend. I also dowloaded frequency analysing software into my phone and used it in front of the speakers. It didn't notice any specific frequency peaks between 3-19000Hz so everything should be kinda allright? Though, I haven't been able to check if there are some peaks above 20kHz. I don't know if there are any free analysers for that.

I'm using Macbook Pro (13-inch, mid 2012) and the softwares seem to run without any problems.

So, what kind of options do i have for resolving this case? I personally love Korg's Legacy synths and they are perfect for making exactly the music i want. But I'm worried if there is a risk of ear damage or tinnitus. How can I avoid this without quitting playing? I would really like to know if anyone else has encountered the problem or knows some solution or explanation for this.

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:28 pm
by Hugh Robjohns
Weird undefined 'pressure in the ears' effects are often the result of having your monitor speakers wired up in opposite polarities, so one is trying to 'blow' the sound towards you while the other is 'sucking' -- a very unnatural and often quite uncomfortable feeling.

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2019 3:41 pm
by MOF
Is it there with other soft synths, have you tried moving your listening position and is it there when listening on headphones?

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 8:56 pm
by MOF
Is this another time waster?

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:24 pm
by Wonks
They logged in this afternoon.

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 2:22 pm
by Schattenkvlt
MOF wrote:Is it there with other soft synths, have you tried moving your listening position and is it there when listening on headphones?

The same problem occurs with headphones too. And it seems other soft synths don't cause this kind of problem. Three of my friends have confirmed this issue now, so it's not between my ears either.

This kinda sucks, cus I can't play these (Korg's) synths longer than couple of minutes, and preferably not even that cus it feels so uncomfortable in the ears.

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 5:37 pm
by Rich Hanson
I've been using the legacy synths since they first came out and I have never encountered any issue like this, and I'm running the exact same MacBook as you.

How are you using them? Standalone, or in a host, if the latter then which host?

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:20 pm
by desmond
Schattenkvlt wrote:
MOF wrote:Is it there with other soft synths, have you tried moving your listening position and is it there when listening on headphones?

The same problem occurs with headphones too. And it seems other soft synths don't cause this kind of problem. Three of my friends have confirmed this issue now, so it's not between my ears either.

This kinda sucks, cus I can't play these (Korg's) synths longer than couple of minutes, and preferably not even that cus it feels so uncomfortable in the ears.

These synths have probably hundreds of thousands of users for many years, even decades, and this is the first time I've heard of anyone mention this - which means I'm fairly confident that whatever is happening is something local to your system, and not inherent in the instruments themselves.

If you're not sure, then you can render out a bounce of a particular instrument patch showing the issue you have, and we can listen to it, and compare the same patch on our systems to see if there is anything that seems wrong - and also we can bounce out from our systems and you can listen to it on yours to see if there is a difference.

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 7:06 pm
by IAA
I would really like to know if anyone else has encountered the problem or knows some solution or explanation for this.

As others have said it’s not the synths given their ubiquity, i would however take the opportunity to have an ear test just to make sure all is well there. It’s a good thing to do fairly regularly (I noticed once when I had mine checked that my left ear had a reduced frequency response and I couldn’t understand why some of my sounds were a bit off - fortunately the culprit was a virus that eventually cleared up)

Re: Synth sounds causing ear issues

PostPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:18 pm
by slightly
this is a weird side note from me

I have a problem with my left ear but not all the time
was never there before, but maybe two years ago, had an issue with that ear
one night watching tv went completely def in the left ear.. that night in bed
I had a wind sound that built and built gewtting higher inpitch


was completely def in one ear for over a week thereon, had to take antibiotics and its just unpopped itself back to hearing one night walking


my weird ear thing is, when Im starting out with layering/ making beats at the start of a new song, I can get a violent enuff flutter like something flapping and out in my left ear

worst when auditioning drum samples, it kinda passes as I get to adding multiple synth parts and progressing the track

its usually only at the starting point with drums when the tune is fairly empty of content

not bothering me right now as have been stuck on a song with a few synth bits in it for awhile now

but I know if I start a new tune in a few weeks with drums first Ill have the same effect


I think actually it comes back at the last stage of a song for me, when Im moving channel by channel through a tune eqing etc

which is a balls cause your trying to concentrate on the sound


mentioned it to doc once or twice they just ignored me