Hearing "Saturation?"

Posted by: OperaTenor

Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 11:24 AM

For lack of a better term, I find there are times when I'm tuning pianos in rapid succession, when everything begins to sound awful, like I'm hearing every little beat from every interval all at once. I found I have to step back and take an aural break at that point before going on.

I've had many opportunities to go back at another time and hear my work, and then it sounds just fine, so I know it's me, and *not* something I did badly.

Anyone else experience that?
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 11:39 AM

It happens to me all the time. I have never tuned a piano that I was completely satisfied with. If it doesn't happen by the mid-treble, it certainly does in the low bass. It is a super-critical attitude and is what makes me tune as perfect as possible. I have no idea how someone could tune UT aurally. It would be like purposely running a car into the ditch.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 11:43 AM

That's because your ears are becoming tired. Over time, they are listening and discerning and need a break. When your ears get to that point, nothing sounds right yet, if you give them a break say, return tomorrow and listen to what you did today, you'll be amazed at how well the piano actually sounds. This is because your ears are now rested again.

If you spend about an hour on the tuning, things should be fine but, if you go over it and over it and over it and over it again and again trying to make everything perfect which is impossible to do, you will encounter this on every single piano. You have to learn when to say "stop." Moving onto the next piano. smile
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 12:05 PM

I'm glad to 'hear' I'm not alone in this. smile

I wondered if it had to do with my tinnitus.


Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 12:09 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
I have no idea how someone could tun UT aurally.


I assume the tuner who can successfully do that has amazing aural discipline and can stick to counting beats.

What I can't wrap my head around would be the ability to do *that* repeatedly.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 12:31 PM

No, it does not Jim. It is a natural thing that all tuners will experience when our ears are over worked. smile
Posted by: BDB

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 12:34 PM

I think my ears get better the more pianos I tune.
Posted by: Jerry Groot RPT

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 12:40 PM

With experience, yes. but not when you tune 6 pianos in a row with no breaks and not if you spend 3 hours in a row on one piano. wink
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 12:49 PM

You're not alone, with the tinnitus either.
Posted by: Phil D

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 01:23 PM

I find it helps to make sure you're properly hydrated and fed at all times. A heavy day of tuning will always result in ear fatigue, but this helps stave that off as long as possible. It is your brain getting tired that produces it - simultaneously processing and analysing the information is hard work, and after a while it can't offer you the analysis you need quick enough. Brain needs food, water and rest to function properly.

Taking a break and listening to some music, or playing a piece on the piano, helps as well. Gives the analytical tuning part of your brain a rest and the hearing part something to help it relax.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 01:26 PM

I have some tinnitus in one ear. But I never, ever notice any ringing while tuning. I am too intent on listening to the piano.
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 01:26 PM



The human ear is a muscle group; similar to any other muscle group it is subject to overuse and fatigue.

Take a break and try again. As I am getting on in years this is why I don’t like to tune every day but do other kinds of work in the shop setting, also to mix it up a bit. There were times when coming back from school board work that I just did not want to “hear anything” at all….tired of hearing generally….

Being a tuning machine day after day gets a bit wearing, for me anyways. I like the variety the shop brings to the equation.
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 01:31 PM

Dan:

You have said this before and I doubt it is true. The ear is a sensory organ. What muscles are you talking about?
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 01:38 PM


There are two muscle groups in the ear; Tensor Tympani and the Stapedius.

Ear muscle anatomy
Posted by: UnrightTooner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 02:00 PM

Thanks, Dan. I stand corrected. There are muscles in the inner ear. Of course that does not mean that the saturation we are talking about is due to muscle fatigue.

For me it is a mental, not a physical thing. The closest thing I can relate it to is looking for coins on the ground. It draws your mental focus. Every tramped upon wad of gum looks like something that needs to be picked up. (Some of you might be able to relate if your spending money ever came from what you could find.)
Posted by: Silverwood Pianos

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 02:35 PM


I am of the opinion that two things are happening there; the ear muscle fatigue and the mental deterioration of concentration.

Because I worked for a half dozen school districts I have a lot of administrators as clients, both active and retired. I learned from one of the specialists it has been noted in the education systems that the human brain will begin to wander after 20-22 minutes on any given subject.

Now I did not believe this at first. When I held a tech seminar last year I cut the classes down to 20 minutes from 40. After 20 minutes I had them move onto something else.

When the reports and photo sets were filed by the attending student technicians I discovered they retained far more of the materials and noted far more enlightened observations in those reports when comparing them to previous seminars.

Could have been just a coincidence, as the study is completely unscientific and too small of a sample to be significant, unless repeated with identical results on other students. Could also be I am getting better at presenting the materials for improved comprehension.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 02:54 PM

I haven't tuned a single note, but the mental fatigue part seems reasonable. When I was heavily into teaching tennis I would attend tha National Tennis Teachers Conferences. These were filled with great teachers who I admired, but I found it difficult to listen to more than two one hour lectures in a row.

The funny thing is how many school administrations expect teenagers to be able to go to class after class with no break except for five minutes to walk to the next room.
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 03:46 PM

Maybe some effective short meditation breaks would work at unfatiguing the brain. It works in other facets of stress/fatigue.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 05:44 PM

I agree that experience more mental fatigue (or just plane boredom) than physical fatigue. It is not easy to maintain the level of focus needed for fine tuning for more than a few hours per day.
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 06:58 PM

Thanks for the comments, guys. Knowing the commonality of this relieves a lot of frustration.

I had accepted it as part of the job, but didn't know there were others in the boat, or just how big the boat was.
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/24/12 06:59 PM

Originally Posted By: BoseEric
You're not alone, with the tinnitus either.


You mean I'm not the only deaf piano tuner??? laugh

If I hadn't mentioned it before, mine's drug-induced, a side-effect of the antibiotic gentamicin. If a doctor ever wants to give it to you, to switch to a different med.

My ears have been ringing continuously since 1992.


Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/25/12 05:21 PM

Jim, hope you are still following this..

Two specific ideas:

1. Earplugs - high quality, musicians' type - like the ones found at www.etymotic.com I tried the custom ones first, but like the cheaper ones better! I have small ear canals, so I use the blue ones. Earplugs are to tuning as a good pair of sunglasses are to driving in the full sun... They help reduce the overload of information, while allowing us to focus on what is needed.

1. ETD Yeah, I know... this is a tough one for a lot of folks. Blah dee blah dee blah about all the pros and cons... Using one allows the tech to "live in the unison" for a bulk of the time, or even all of the time if you gain control of the best software. Reduces a bunch of listening strain.

By using these two suggestions, the limiting factor for bulk tuning becomes more physical, which can be helped by stretching or some yoga between pianos. Of course, staying focused remains a challenge, as always!

18 is my max for one day at the college, only because I had to stop to meet up people for dinner. I'm sure I could have cranked out some more. (The next day, I wasn't worth much - I quit after 9!) That was over 10 years ago, not sure I could do that again...

Ron Koval
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/25/12 09:36 PM

I find ear plugs just make the ringing louder.

There aren't enough hours in one day, given my other responsibilities for me to even think about tuning that many pianos. :hair:

I'm still wrapping my brain around Tunelab...
Posted by: Loren D

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/25/12 10:15 PM

Originally Posted By: UnrightTooner
Dan:

You have said this before and I doubt it is true. The ear is a sensory organ. What muscles are you talking about?


He's right. The ER doctor told me this when I had Bell's Palsy. Closing the shower door sounded to my right ear like someone fired an M16 from a foot away. He explained that muscles in the ear are paralyzed and not responding the way they normally would.
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/25/12 11:03 PM

Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I find ear plugs just make the ringing louder.



Yup, but when you are at the piano, can you focus on the notes through the ringing? As I concentrate and move the notes, the ringing becomes just background to ignore. Kindof like working with false beats; while you move the string notice what changes - focus on that and not the stuff that doesn't change....

Mine might be much less than yours - constant blend of notes up around 14k or so - most bothersome when I'm somewhere quiet.

Ron Koval
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/26/12 12:24 AM

I'll give it a try.
Posted by: Mark R.

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/26/12 06:08 AM

Jim,

I differentiate between hyperacusis and tinnitus. As you might know, hyperacusis is hypersensitivity to sounds while tinnitus is non-real noise generated and/or perceived inside the ear/brain.

When my hyperacusis was bad, last year, I found that piano playing and tuning was one of the worst forms of sound to endure, and that it lead to premature "saturation". So I started using musician's earplugs. This gave my hyperacusis a bit of a break - but as you say, at the expense of increased tinnitus. The plugs definitely cut out a significant part of high frequencies, and my impression is that the brain starts "hunting" for them by turning up its "gain" even more. Hence the tinnitus becomes worse.

Initially, I wore the plugs very often, even while driving and going to the shops, but after having made the above connection with increased tinnitus, I now try to avoid the plugs whenever possible. I only ever wear them when I know that I'll be exposed to high sound levels for prolonged periods, e.g. tuning.

BTW, my tinnitus is a broad-band "white hiss" of about 12-15 kHz.
Posted by: Emmery

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/26/12 01:15 PM

I have the ringing also but have learned to ignore it when tuning. A pink noise machine at night helps deal with it when things are normally quiet. One study I read about tinnitus indicated 84 percent to 92 percent of those with tinnitus also have hyperinsulinemia, a sugar metabolism disorder. A diet similar to what diabetics use can help a lot. It has worked for me and the ringing is just faint background now....in the past it used to be like a siren blaring.
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/26/12 07:57 PM

I've heard that also. Mine's drug-induced; it was a side-effect of an antibiotic I was given in 1992.

Until a few years ago, I was sure I'd never tune another piano, until Ron Koval taught me the method I use now. I know for a fact I'm twice the tuner I was before.

I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude.

smile
Posted by: malkin

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/27/12 11:01 AM

The wikipedia article on Auditory Fatigue gives good information about this issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_fatigue
Posted by: RonTuner

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/28/12 07:57 AM

Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I've heard that also. Mine's drug-induced; it was a side-effect of an antibiotic I was given in 1992.

Until a few years ago, I was sure I'd never tune another piano, until Ron Koval taught me the method I use now. I know for a fact I'm twice the tuner I was before.

I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude.

smile




Aw, shucks blush - dinner and drinks would do...

RK
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 10/28/12 10:40 AM

Originally Posted By: RonTuner
Originally Posted By: OperaTenor
I've heard that also. Mine's drug-induced; it was a side-effect of an antibiotic I was given in 1992.

Until a few years ago, I was sure I'd never tune another piano, until Ron Koval taught me the method I use now. I know for a fact I'm twice the tuner I was before.

I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude.

smile




Aw, shucks blush - dinner and drinks would do...

RK


Anytime we're in each other's neck of the woods, baby!
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 05/31/13 01:57 AM

Dredging up this subject...

I've found that, since I began with the district and my volume of work has skyrocketed, my hearing seems to be getting into shape a little. I can divine what I'm hearing a lot faster, and it now takes more like five or six pianos in close succession to tire out my hearing.

Anyone else experience anything similar?
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 05/31/13 02:15 AM

Sorry, I have nothing to add there. My customers, and myself are not tired-disturbed by the tone when I tune (usually) That even surprise me.
Posted by: rxd

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 05/31/13 03:15 AM

I get physically tired well before any hearing tiredness.
Come to think of it, I don't know what tired ears feels or sounds like.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 05/31/13 03:23 AM

Originally Posted By: rxd
I get physically tired well before any hearing tiredness.
Come to think of it, I don't know what tired ears feels or sounds like.


I was about to say something similar but not sure it would be understood.

I seem not to "listen" sometime, making more efforts on the physical aspects than on some "listening". the justness, I "know" where it is, no much brain exercise on that part (anyway I do not have much brain left so it is better that way)

But it happened some (far !) long time ago, I can understand that.

That give me the right to say one can "listen differently" even if some do not seem to understand what it mean

BTW I don't know if you have used some ETD but I suspect it may be more "tiring" for the ears to tune with those (or to use them always). I am unsure of the cause, however.

Tuning together with noise exposure is tiring, but more for the brain than for the ears I suppose.

But I recall when I was younger (about 30) and I came home, did not wish to hear the TV or even to listen to music.

HA HA ! as we all hear less with age, that should certainly be the cause is not it ? !!!
Posted by: Gary Fowler

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 06/04/13 10:05 PM

As an aural tuner, I do 3 a day(4 max) It's not that it's tough on the hearing, but it's exhausting mentally to listen with laser like focus.
Posted by: OperaTenor

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 06/04/13 10:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
As an aural tuner, I do 3 a day(4 max) It's not that it's tough on the hearing, but it's exhausting mentally to listen with laser like focus.


I think that's what was divined in this thread; that it's really the mental fatigue that's at play.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 06/05/13 01:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Gary Fowler
As an aural tuner, I do 3 a day(4 max) It's not that it's tough on the hearing, but it's exhausting mentally to listen with laser like focus.


That changed when I learned to appreciate the tone structure, as the precision remain high but attention can be given more to the pin and wire than to the tone. Listening then is as natural as singing or speaking, can get tiring if working in really noisy circumstances , but I stopped to be overhauled by tone as I was (this is really tiring in the end)

I would describe that as listening to the tone projection mostly, then refining the top of the spectra.

When I am "tuning" the tuning pin, the wire is easy probably, in comparison.

Dealing with the tone structure, we are way less annoyed by poorly sounding pianos, also, and can more easily give them the illusion of having a decent tone (some fast voicing included).




Posted by: Dave B

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 06/06/13 12:16 AM

I know a pianist who takes an unusually large amount of time between songs even when he's performing. I asked him why, he replied, "It is important that I empty my ears of the last piece before I move on to the next piece."

We both laughed.
Posted by: Olek

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 06/07/13 09:49 AM

Actually not so untrue, there is an horrible joke you can make to the orchestra when you see them in the morning, an it is to whisle a very intrusive tune from an advertising, or whatever very popular and well known tune...

When you meet them in the afternoon some are saying they had the tune in the ear all the day ...

I am diabolic !!

P.S "Nespresso" music would do it perfectly, if you wish to try.

Posted by: Olek

Re: Hearing "Saturation?" - 06/07/13 10:48 AM

"musical listening" is not always the way the tuner is listening.

That is creating a lot of fatigue.

I guess you call the other way "global listening" .

This is how tuning can stay something natural, and simpler.

If not the numerous partial matches that superposes make it really hard for the ear.
It may sound strange at first to avoid listening precisely at only one precise level, but I believe that is how the actual young tuners learn to listen, then they have no real tone quality problem and can focus to the wire and the pin.

The partial match, is true, and cover something real, sound like a nice simplification, but they oblige to listen in anon musical way, so the tone loose its reality, and the tuner is surprised to hear his tuning in the end, while he should not (only the difference due to the distance should be audible).