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Re: hearing sudden distortion effect


Sorry about your bad experience.

Possibly related: I remember a performance at IRCAM on amplified flute by Pierre-Yves Artaud. Intense impulsive tones were accompanied by popping sounds in my ear. Colleagues attributed those to middle ear reflex.


 James W. Beauchamp wrote:
Dear List,

In 2009 I acquired chronic low-level high-frequency tinnitus.
Tests rhowed that it was at approximately 11 KHz 10 dB above
threshold. Most of the time I'm not concious of it and it doesn't
affect my enjoyment of music.

Friday night I attended an orchestra concert where they played
Beethoven's "Overture to 'Eqmont'", Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy",
and Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 12" in that order. I enjoyed it
all, but the last piece was especially loud, and near the end of
the last movement I suddenly experienced a loud distortion effect
on certain very loud notes. It had two attributes: 1) It was very
sudden, almost like an amplifier clipping; 2) I perceived the
sounds to be localized very close to my head, rather than coming
from the stage (I was seated about 20 rows from the stage.). The
effect was very disconcerting because it ruined the musical

This is the first time I've experienced this effect at an orchestra
concert. I remember experiencing something like this in 1978 when a
certain electronic piece by Xennakis was performed at the
International Computer Music Conference at Northwestern Univ. It was
played very loud, and I remember sounds were swirling around my head.
Others had the same experience. This was way before my tinnitus onset,
and I didn't mind it because it seemed like the strange localization
effect was just part of the piece.

Has anyone else experienced this effect? What is the effect called?
Is it related to tinnitus or is it a cause of tinnitus?

Thanks for your help on this question!


James W. Beauchamp
Research Professor
Professor Emeritus of Music and Electrical & Computer Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
email: jwbeauch@xxxxxxxxxxxx (also: jwbeauch@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
WWW:  http://ems.music.uiuc.edu/beaucham