Is it me or new audio gear is too perfect and give ear fatigue?

Since getting back into the hobby during covid I’ve really enjoyed listening to music vs. bluetooth low quality speakers.  Since listening to my Nautilus 803 speakers with old Yamaha Amps (MX1, MX1000) they’ve been sweet sounding and warm.

A lot of people have said the new equipment is near perfect chasing specs, sounding bright and causing ear fatigue.

Curious if people feel the same?


My limited experience tells me that most speakers with medal tweeters sound bright.  Adding a bright DAC and a bright amplifier is looking for trouble. Last year, I went from a tube preamp and tube amps to an all solid state integrated.  Oh boy what a difference!!

I would strongly suggest you go with separates and either the preamp or the amp be tube.  It will really cut down on your ear fatigue.

All the best.

If you compare new equipment, especially tubed gear, the new gear has a less tube sound or warmth as it has in older vintage gear. This has been a trend that I’ve noticed. I have several systems and love the smooth warmth of vintage gear. Even vintage solid state sounds warmer. 

I'm not sure being new or old has as much to do with it as design and synergy between speakers, amplification, cables.  I actually get a physical headache if I listen to a system that is overly bright/detailed.  I recently auditioned a pair of generally well regarded speakers and after about 20 minutes, I got such a headache I had to stop.  I don't know if it was the speakers, the amp or the digital source, but overall it was extremely fatiguing.  The good news is that it made me appreciate the speakers I have so much more and help quash my upgraditis for now.

So much to unpack here, but i think you got several useful replies.


One i have not yet seen (but no doubt i skipped that reply!) is,"if you think your old Yamaha is so sweet, why not just keep it? Its free..."


Now, is much new gear bright and/or harsh (not the same thing!)? And is it too perfect (***certainly*** not the same thing).


If it were perfect, on great recordings it would vanish and the band would seem to appear, on on bad recordings they would sound reliably, well, bad. So unless you expect your stuff to make up for crap recordings, let’s assume nastly sounding stuff is not perfect. We honestly don’t know why not all data correlates.


Atmosphere hit on one of the key things - there are two classes of distortions. Musical ones that are musically related ("consonant") and nastly, a-musical ones that your brain says "where the F did that come from?" ("dissonant"). We can tolerate, and sometimes ENJOY large amounts of musical distortion. Example A: tubes. We hear and cringe from even small amounts of dissonant distortion: example B: bad digital, many cheap solid state amps, esepcially modern ones with SPMSs.


I will also report that many components are in fact bright and measure so. I can only speculate that they a) jump out in demos as "crisper" (the puppy that runs up to you rather than sitting in the corner of the cage) to they make up for many middle age+ men’s high frequency hearing loss. If like me, you still hear 20 khz, they sound bright, mostly because the ARE bright. I wont name names since that generates a flame war. Mostly speakers and moving coil cartridges.


Its why we must listen. And not do quick A-Bs but extended listening (yea, blind if you can pull it off, its not easy).




I have not had any ear fatigue with higher frequencies but have had issues with lower frequencies. When adding sub woofers to a system I would get ear pressure and fatigue until I was able to dial in the subs to blend in perfectly with the stand mount speakers and disappear.