Listener fatigue is very real but can be more on the subconscious level.
But beware of both sides of the coin.
There's a fine line between amps that provide so much detail leading to an overly bright sound and amps that veil, smear, and roll off the highs and sometimes dynamics so that you end up listening to Musak elevator music.
Especially beware, when people say "I could listen to this amp for days or forever."
As Peter Moncrief of IAR said regarding some of these supposedly hi-end and very expensive and popular amps, "These amps may be easy to live with. But it's the other amps you won't want to live without."
Also, I understand that the Thiel line can be a more bright speaker than the average.
You must match components carefully for so that the sum is greater than it's parts so to speak.
For me, music can be very dynamic and yes even to the point of fatigue if loud enough or played long enough.
I want my components to capture that 'live' bite if it exists in the recording. It can always be toned down in different ways, but I certainly don't want some high priced electrical engineering amp wiz making that decision for me.
Of course it's subjective -- but focusing on whether or not it is subjective is like saying that green is an inherently better color and therefore everyone should paint thier houses green, inside and out, and if they don't like it who cares because it's just "subjective." Lord, I trust that the ears you use are going to be your own when you listen to this system...? Not only does this guy sound "surly," but his comments seem to volunteer him for the shortlist of potential congenital idiots. If he's not prepared to help you put together a system that you want to listen to, find someone who is and feel real good about your decision.
I'm not sure I have a real handle on this "fatigue" thing. Just what is it that fatigues you? I had Naim gear for 10 years and it never fatigued me. Perhaps the Naim has more detail and musical involvement, causing you to have to concentrate on more information reaching your ears. I don't know. The only fatigue I have experienced is with poor sound quality from lower level products. I now use OTL tu be amps with Lowthers and they produce tremendous detail, but I can't call it fatiguing. Do you want an amp that lulls you to sleep with soft, low detail schmooze, or an amp with dynamics and power and lots of detail that keeps you involved in the music? Or maybe it is the source that is bothering you. Many feel that CD is fatiguing, compared to vinyl, and has an edge that some go the great length to smooth out with their other components. It could be that the amp is simply revealing something that you don't like about the source. Maybe I just need to find out more about what this "fatigue" is.
Fatigue has a lot to do with the recording itself. I've been able to listen hours of music at high volume and never have a problem. Slip in a specific disc and i've got a headache after about 10 - 15 minutes.
I also think that our AC system affects what we hear and how we perceive what we are listening to a LOT more than we think it does. As i've commented before, i can quite easily hear a change in my systems as the night goes on. This usually takes place somewhere between 1 - 2 AM. There will be one specific point where, and this happens quite suddenly, the music becomes FAR more liquid and coherent sounding. It is as if a layer of "grit" is removed. This happens regardless of the source selected i.e vinyl, cd or FM. It is so apparent that it is almost like someone flipped a switch. I think that the only way to get around this is to have your own personal generator housed out on the back 40 or run gear that is all battery powered. Sean
I have owned two Naim rigs and found both to be fatiguing at times, but as with all things audio, speaker matching and choice of interconnects, which is harder in a Naim system due to the Din connectors, goes a long way. I also owned a pair of Thiel 1.5 speakers which I felt were very fatigueing with a coloration in the midrange that did not mesh well with my listening biases. Interestingly, when Stereophile reviewed the speaker it was easy to see in the technical part of the review that the woofer had marked discontinuities at the top of it's passband as it was slowly rolled out by the 6db crossover.
Hi Robert and all:
I think "fatigue" is used in many different ways. Some may be subjective. One example for a speaker is aluminum dome tweeters, which are often said to cause fatigue. Some are not very well implimented and a peek at certain frequencies after an hour or so of listening is about as subjective as a kick in the head if you ask me.
This does not mean that all aluminum tweeters are poor. Some, however, could be said to cause fatigue.
TWL: Do those Lowthers still sound so good after a couple days? No fatigue setting in?
I'll try to describe the "fatigue" more, and I probably won't do a very good job. Almost immediately with the NAIM system, I wanted to turn it down, and turn it off. It had something in the treble, I would guess, that was very uncomfortable to my ears. I get this from my factory car stereo sometimes, especially if I'm listening to CD patched through the headphone jack of my discman - and in the car it's not a high res situation. I play the thiels with a mccormack amp, and SS ARC preamp, and I have to stop and reset my ears. If I use the mccormack and a passive control unit, it's much more bearable. If I use a golden tube power amp, I can use the ARC SS preamp with no problem. So, I feel there are alot of factors - preamp, power amp and the source (digital). Maybe it's just the digital thing - I've heard many converters produce some nasty odd order harmonic distortion. The levinson setup did not make me want to turn it down, but it did not have alot of the spatial info the Naim setup had. If it's a software issue, one problem is that alot of good music is not that well recorded, so I don't want to paint myself into a corner with just a few listenable CD's.
I thank you all for your comments.
Listener fatigue is sujective and very real. I'll tell you a little secret, I find it often happens sooner at live musice performances than on good "systems". I find many live performances unnecessiarily and/or over ampilified. Sean is right on about how sound quailty seems to vary with ac and time of the day. As I've previously posted, I used to live in an apartment in New York that was across the streeet from a high school computer lab. With in hours of the school's closing, the sound of my system would improve. Upon the school's reopening the grundge would return. The Thiels aside from the low impedance, usually provide an easy load for amplifiers. I don't believe them to be bright, just not rolled off, as such they will show up componenet colorizations quite easily. You seem to have identified these coloriztions quickly. That's probably a very good thing. As there is no such thing as a completely neutral componenet, one has to find ones that have a balance that works for you. May I suggest you try the Thiels with Pass, Krell or the high current Conrad-Johnson (2300 or 2500 series) amps. There are other's that come to mind but I have not heared them with the Thiels, so I'm hestitant to recommend them. Good luck.
Based on personal experience, the Thiels sound good with the Rowlands and the BAT amps, also.
I'll second the Rowlands.
I guess, because Meadowlark Shearwaters were incredibly fatiguing to me. But no one else has ever mentioned Meadowlark as being fatiguing.
I don't get your comments on Naim having good soundstage depth. I always found it worse than pretty much anything else of comparable price.
Naim stuff is colored in the midrange and is overpriced compared to other brands IMO.
Try Thiel with Musical Fidelity, or tube gear. I found it to be clear but not fatiguing.
I'm currently using a tube amp with the Thiels, and it has a low fatigue factor. And for only about 35 watts a side, I'm not complaining about missing power. As far as the soundstage depth, it was there in spades with the NAIM relative to the Levinson integrated. This is of course just what I heard one day with about 25 minutes of listening in total. I know the Thiels are not rolled off like others, and Thiel does not stipulate tubes like some other makers, so I believe they get a bum rap on the fatigue side. And there was a good point that live music is fatiguing. for rock, I usually wear earplugs if it's a small space, so I don't notice. And there are alot of sounds we encounter everyday - saws, sirens, some voices, which would be fatiguing if recorded and reproduced perfectly, god knows they're bad enough in real life. I think I have different expectations for recorded music than live music. Like the soundstage at the symphony vs what I want from a cd through my system. Definitely expect it to be more pronounced on the system. I had not considered rowlands. I'll check 'em out!