Do you ever do this before you listen?


Hello everyone. I was at an audio store today with a friend that was auditioning a pair of speakers and the salesman told us to clear our ears by pinching the nose then blowing through your nose to make the ears pop (clearing them). I have to admit the music sounded  so much better lol. It makes perfect sense why you would want to do this, but I had just never thought of it. So I thought I would see who else is doing this, and maybe discover some other new tricks. SO what strange things do you do routinely before a listing session? (I know thats a loaded question to ask of this group)
barnettk
I do it sometimes, especially when my sinuses act up. Sometimes I do it to ascertain if I hearing something correctly as ears can be a funny thing and slowly plug up without one being aware of it. 

Doing it always seems to improve things but sometimes my ears immediately return to the previous state. Either way, it shows just how we all hear differently due to myriad reasons.

All the best,
Nonoise
Yes, do it before I listen and again as necessary while listening due to sinus issues.
@nonoise 

"ears can be a funny thing and slowly plug up without one being aware of it."

Thats the thing. I had no idea that they were even clogged. I never even think about them being clogged unless i have a cold etc.. but when I cleared them the music revealed itself in an incredible way.  Just have make sure I don't  clear them with two much pressure or my eyes might pop out lol. Then what :) JK.. Now that Im aware I will gently clear them from time to time from now on when listening to music for sure. 
I don’t do it as you can perforate it and that would ruin this whole hobby in 1 fell swoop
It’s called equalizing. This opens the eustacian tubes so that the pressure in the inner ear is equal to the atmospheric pressure outside, and therefore there is no pressure differential across the eardrum. This is the same technique used in scuba diving to avoid a “squeeze”. The eardrum will be in a neutral position and best able to transmit sound through the inner ear bones to the cochlea, where the sonic vibrations are converted to nerve inpulses through specialized hair cells and transmitted to the auditory cortex via cranial nerve VIII.
Especially after a skydive(well...from.anything over 13.5K).
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I take my glasses off, as well.
Yep, most times at least once during listening; especially if I think things aren't right.Takes the ears out of the equation, at least for me.
I do that when I’m in a plane and the cabin pressure starts building as it starts descending. 

I have done it before for various reasons. Flying, colds etc. just never thought to do it before listening to my system. Makes perfect sense tho. 
rschrot......You are correct in your basic knowledge with the anatomy of the ear. However, that doesn't explain away the danger of someone puffing with a closed nose just to hear their music better.
Extreme pressure can cause damage to ear components. At what point does a person stop puffing to clear what may be an inherent hearing loss. Sure, momentary equalization would allow better hearing. But, there may be other reasons to investigate.
People may not be satisfied with performing the "hold your nose" technique and may try harder. Perhaps simply risking damage to the eardrum or perhaps worse. Besides the eardrum, there are ossicles in the middle ear. Most importantly, those ossicles act on the oval window...consider it an inner eardrum. Then vibrations are transmitted to the cilia (hairlike nerves) in the cochleas where the sound is transmitted to the brain. I could talk about the workings of hearing a lot longer.
In the end, simple ear popping is common and cures a simple situation. But, there are those who may take that to an extreme. Temporary hearing loss is one thing but I would caution listeners who would also take ear popping to the extreme.

I do all the time specially when I’m in the airplane during taking off and landing.
"In the end, simple ear popping is common and cures a simple situation. But, there are those who may take that to an extreme. Temporary hearing loss is one thing but I would caution listeners who would also take ear popping to the extreme."

Well hopefully no one will do this to the point that causes damage to their ears. That would make me feel horrible for bringing it up.

So please be careful if you try this technique. Seriously
Now I feel bad :(
Only professionals should do it on a closed course.
What I do before I listen: turn on amp to warm up. Pour a beverage. Why would I want to mess with my ears just before I want them to be nice and relaxed? The lengths some dealers will go to get an edge on the rubes.
"What I do before I listen: turn on amp to warm up. Pour a beverage. Why would I want to mess with my ears just before I want them to be nice and relaxed? The lengths some dealers will go to get an edge on the rubes."

uhh because it works. especially for that short time that you will be demoing a speaker. I can totally understand why a dealer would do it especially. I thought it was a smart move personally. 
Have done this for over 30 years. Often exercising the muscles behind the ears while inhaling/exhaling, as in learning how to just flex them, gives the same result. No need to overdo it.  It’s a personal choice but the reality is you are not hearing what you wish to be hearing until the “equalized” state is reached. People spend 1000’s if dollars and never come close to what the benefit in sound comes from hearing “completely”.
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chewing gum or just swallowing gives the same effects.............most of the time. Any medical professional will caution against manually popping your ears - how hard do you have to "blow" to achieve it?
@ianrodger 

Not hard. At least for me anyway. I barely blow. Pinch your nose and lightly try to blow through your nose. It’s not that big a deal. Same as equalizing the pressure when flying. Chewing gum does help I would imagine. Drinking something also will often do the trick. I’m not suggesting that you blow your brains out just lightly. Actually I am able to do it without even pinching my nose. You can open your mouth, tilt your head back and breath out through your mouth and achieve the same result. 
@elizabeth regarding the Neti pot. Do they really work? I have been tempted to get one but not sure I would like the sensation of water moving through my nose like that. I have sinus problems and if it works it might be a good thing for me. 
@barnettk

I can confirm that sinus rinsing work. At the very least the irrigation with salts really is very soothing, and sometimes can help end allergies a little faster. I cheat and use the squeeze bottle variety:

https://amzn.to/2THzjjY


Please be _SURE_ you used distilled water or boild water. Distilled is best, because you will add salts, and that makes sure they reach the right equilibrium.

A lady recently died after having her brain eaten by an amoeba because of a netti pot and tap water. Kind of puts a damper on listening to music when that happens. 
Also, in terms of hearing, I have found that Nivea shower wash does a really good job of cleaning out my ears when used consistently.


https://amzn.to/2VSAaAm
@erik_squires

“A lady recently died after having her brain eaten by an amoeba because of a netti pot and tap water.”

Well thatnks for the heads up!! I agree you would pretty much not have to worry about listening to music after that for sure.

I have another friend that swears by it however he is the only person I know that uses one. I don’t want to get to far off topic of this post so if you don’t mind I might send you a private msg to discuss further. I have some additional questions on the subject. Maybe this product will help keep me from getting sinus headaches when I fly which is often.
@barnettk

You already know as much as I do about Netti pots.

I just keep track of obscure ways in which people die too.

Best,
E
@erik_squires 10-4. I will research it. Hopefully you won’t be reading about me 😁
Its also amazing how much putting your hands behind your ears to cup them out seems to clear up the sound.Im suprized that no-one has yet come up with a device that you place behind the ears to do this!
Funny you should say that. My first product was going to be Ortho Ears, based on the cupping of ears idea. However, I found that cupping of ears while interesting and seems to improve dynamic range (primarily) it doesn’t sound natural compared to no ears cupped. Also, I found that room treatments improve dynamic range, thereby neutralizing the effects of ear cupping. Nevertheless...maybe audiophiles in the future may have large ears as a result of natural selection.
geoffkait Haha,yes my one ear is slightly smaller than the other,thus I need to sit slightly offcenter to balance the soundstage...Your comment on room treatments is interesting,I must visit forum threads on the subject.
Former scuba diver. Equalize my ears on occasion, I can usually tell when needed.

I like to run the heat up or air down a bit and then shut the system off before a listening session. My utility room is not far from my home theater and there is a main intake fairly close.
If you have normal eustachian tubes you don't need to do this.Middle ear pressure is equalizing to atmospheric frequently, like every time you swallow. And you don't even notice because the pressure differential is minimal. When you notice popping with equalization it probably means your eustachian tubes are dysfunctional, like if you have a cold or allergies. If you hold your nose and blow you will likely end up with positive pressure in your middle ear which would be just as bad as negative pressure. But if it works for you, who am I to say?

I never thought of it but I just did it and it was kind of nice.
Or you can take a dose of cough syrup with guaifenesin, which seems to clear all of my sinuses, or doing simple stretches, the preferred method, by doing these two things: 1., stand straight with your back against a wall, turn head slowly left and right, repeat about 10 times, holding for a 3-5 second count at each turn. 2., Lay down on back on carpeted floor, extend arms fully on each side to fom a T, now, take one leg and place it over the opposite leg and extend as far as possible over that leg as if in a stretch, repeat with other leg, do at least 3 times, unless you have back issues, then be careful, monitor pain threshold first before doing, this causes an alignment and stretch of the body which stretches back and weirdly effects the upper eustachian passageways. After doing these two things, I feel that this has cleared my upper sinuses, while also stretching. These two stretches are from my Army days, when we did Physical Training at 0500. 
The NeilMed link that erik_squires posted is certainly on topic and very helpful. I’m surprised more people with sinus issues don’t use them. I do it once a day before bed (helps snoring too) and sometimes twice, if I have a cold or sinus inflammation. Sure it’s annoying at first and may be hard to get used to for some, but come on, we’re all jaded adults now and should be able to eat something we don’t like or get used to doing a neti. 
Many benefits from removing mucus which can halt or servesrly slow down mucus production (mucus makes more mucus), reduces swelling opening up the sinuses, which in turn all calms pressure. At least for me it does. 

as a stereo enthusiast with Meniere's Disease I'm very familiar with this method of 'clearing the ears' - first of all it does work and according to many of the docs I've been treated by, it won't damage anything provided you don't 'force it' - in other words, proceed gently and cautiously but if you don't immediately feel the 'pop' or release of pressure STOP !  You may just have blockage that needs professional removal.  Don't go digging around in there with a Q tip!

a related aside:  Meniere's can cause, over time, or even suddenly, an acute or gradual reduction in hearing - in my case (gasp !) I have to use a hearing aid in my left ear, which has unfortunately reduced my enjoyment of my not inexpensive stereo gear

a couple years ago I got sick; upper respiratory problem, either the flu or a nasty cold (I don't recall and it doesn't really matter) - congestion, plugged sinuses, cough, you know - that thick feeling in your sinuses, ears, nose etc, and this lasted for more than a few days; my hearing suffered more than usual and of course given I've been sick hundreds of times in my life I expected that once I fully recovered my hearing would return to its previous (though reduced) level

the bad news, and the reason for the long and boring story is this:  the hearing in my left ear did not return to it's previous level, even though my illness subsided; so I visited my otolaryngologist for an evaluation - he asked me why I waited so long to come see him to which I replied, 'I've been sick more than a few times during my 61 years of life, had temporary hearing loss which always returned, why would I visit you this time?'  being the smart-ass (and excellent doc, by the way) he said, 'well this time your hearing isn't coming back!'  He said if I had visited him during the time I was sick (not 2 weeks later) he might likely have prevented the new and additional hearing reduction with another intratympanic steroid injection, similar to those I'd had in the past to battle vertigo, etc.

I share this to remind you that the most important part of your system is your EARS!  Take care of them!  They are no different than you teeth, your blood, your eyes, your liver, or your skin, etc!  Get hearing tests and have your ears examined, have them cleaned and checked!  If something doesn't sound right, go see the doc NOW, and preferably an otolaryngologist!  (ENT, an ear specialist!)  You don't have a brake and shock guy work on your transmission! 

When you get sick and your hearing wanes and doesn't return fairly soon, I urge you:  go see a specialist asap! 

As far as Neti Pots, they work too, but I've only used them to remove pollen from my sinuses; it is very effective and not nearly as uncomfortable as you'd think - tap water works fine; if tap water is going to cause a brain issue, then it will likely kill you from drinking, brushing your teeth, cooking, or bathing too.......... can't live life in a bubble..........


@markmendenhall 

"the most important part of your system is your EARS! Take care of them! "

Amen brother! Thanks for sharing your story. 

"As far as Neti Pots, they work too, but I've only used them to remove pollen from my sinuses; it is very effective and not nearly as uncomfortable as you'd think"

I was wondering if it gave you a sensation of drowning. Not being funny, but I have never tried one because I thought it would. Also how do you keep the water from going down your throat? I have a real problem with that. For example if I'm in the shower and water goes into my nose and down my throat I will often get a soar throat... very uncomfortable for me. I do want to try one tho because I have sinus problems, and allergies. 

The clearing the ears is no incredible revelation to me as I knew about doing it I just never thought about doing it while/before listening to my system. Now that I have been doing it, tho its like a vail has been lifted on the music. 

I recently did a hearing test and was quite surprised at what frequencies I could actually hear or not hear rather. The results may surprise you also. Do you think you can hear all those highs you think you can?? take this hearing test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-iCZElJ8m0

FYI You will need a decent pair of head phones. 


Barnettk- the aqueous nasal cavity cleansing is done with your head level or pointed slightly downward so the liquid basically travels into one nostril then over and out the other one, then you reverse the procedure 

a little leaks down the back of your throat and you just spit it out but I’ve never experienced it causing a drowning or water boarding type sensation 

I do it to remove allergens; small pockets of liquid will leak out for a few hours afterwards but as long as you aren’t in public it’s not a big deal - maybe a little ‘gross’ but well worth the effort, not nearly as uncomfortable as you’d imagine - I do it in the shower and try to eliminate as much liquid as I can there 
And then just blow your nose one nostril at a time to clear out the liquid. I have my system...head down and tilted towards draining side and over the sink, then plug the ‘input’ side and blow, then repeat for the other side and repeat again. Easy-peasy 
What the dealer should do before a demo is to pour you a nice drink, give a few minutes for the effect, and then play the music....
@golden8ears 

haha. That would work to I suppose. 
So what "clearing" your ears actually does for me is to help equalize the air pressure on both sides of the ear drum allowing my ears to do a better job of transmitting vibration.  You don't have to actually make your ears pop, just push gently and you will get the results you want. When days are sunny (high pressure) there is more pressure from the outside which compresses the ear drum and reduces the ear's ability to hear the music.  I have done this for years without damage.  I imagine frequent flyers and scuba divers do it a lot as well.   
Getting your ears cleaned by a doctor every few years will definitely give you the results you're looking for.  Doing it yourself just pushes the wax deeper (even as some appear to come out) & creates a real danger of hurting the eardrum. 
I have the ear wax issue. Whenever I begin to hear channel imbalance and/or high frequency attenuation I clean ears, always get some measure of wax out. Agreed, don't use q tips.  Sinus cleaning very effective as well, I use the NeilMed. Yes, be sure to use distilled water.
A simple yawn will accomplish the same thing.....much like it does on an airplane.  Or just hold your nose when you sneeze.....jk of course!
I’m not going to read more than the OP but doing this is crazy and really bad for you. If a salesman asked me to do that I’d laugh at him and tell him to go talk to his doctor. You could rupture your eardrum.
The ear wax removal kits are available in drug stores and elsewhere (put hydrogen peroxide based thick goo in ear, let it set for a while, and remove it with warm water injected by a rubber bulb squirting thing), and I've been using that method for decades (a doctor recommended this stuff when I was playing guitar in loud clubs many years ago). Works great and is safe. 
“Or just hold your nose when you sneeze.....jk of course!”

Lol. I know your jk. Don’t do that. You may blow your brains out 😂
Just for the record, it's called "valsalva" or the valsalva maneuver.  I became very familiar with it while flying Air Force jets (for 10 years of a 23 year career).  I logged 2,300 hours in the cockpit and had to valsalva during every, single descent.  The majority of folks "clear" (equalize the pressure) naturally or by just swallowing or jacking their jaw, but not me.  I always appreciated the fact that the oxygen mask, which is mostly made of very hard plastic, has soft rubber spots (the size of a silver dollar or so) on both sides of the nose, which permit you to valsalva.  Handy.  As others have correctly noted, it will not hurt you if you do it gently and just enough to clear the pressure.  Hard, fast, and violent are to be avoided.  Like a minority, but still significant number of people, my ears are sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure.  My whole life, I've been unfailingly able to predict when the weather is going to turn from yucky to sunny by the increase in ear pressure (high pressure systems are often, but not always, associated with nice weather).  As superpowers go, it ain't much, but it's something.  Also, after a routine commercial flight, I'll wake up the next morning with a great deal of residual pressure in my ears and that will persist for about 24 hours or so.

The point has been made many times in many ways on these pages, but I'll reiterate it:  we're all made a little differently.  Not only do we hear things a bit differently, but our ears actually function a bit differently.  So it should come as no surprise that one person's "crystal clear, bell-like perfect trebles" are another person's "shrill, tinny, overstated, fatiguing highs."  It's one of the many things that makes our hobby interesting and fun; vive la difference.  But back to the OP's question:  I will valsalva every single time before (and sometimes during) a critical listening session.  And wow, does it ever make a difference.