Earlier in my career, I spent about seven years in varying roles in pro-audio, both live sound and studio recording. I’ve always tried to be mindful of long-term exposure to excessive volumes, but am realizing as I’ve grown older that my opinion of “excessive” might not match that of what my ears were expecting. Now 31, I have a consistent ringing in my ears at the high end of the frequency range, or what I interpret to be around 16-18kHz. This is easily masked by white noise or most ambient sound, but I’ve had to accept that this is what “silence” is going to sound like in quiet environments.
Some hearing loss obviously comes with age, and I presume a certain amount of hearing damage is simply unavoidable in daily life. I’m curious how my situation compares to others in this community and how you’ve adjusted to this reality.
Specifically, how has any ringing in your ears affected your enjoyment of high fidelity audio? Have you changed your habits as a result? Are there any products you spend more or less time with now vs. before?
Indeed, cheap headphones from my “lack of proper funds” youth certainly have taken their toll on my hearing. Having the wealth to buy proper class A components as helped, but I wish I had my 20 year old ears back again.
I’ve actually gone to a piece of equipment most audiophiles find abhorrent, a graphic equalizer, to compensate for my mid-range hearing loss.
My tinnitus is from a bad case of the flu about 40 years ago. While I still love classical music and good sound reproduction, in recent years, with more diminished high frequency hearing, I’ve become less rigorous about having -the- absolute best audo equipment. Whereas Tubes had to be in the chain, I now use decent, albeit now somewhat ‘ancient’ solid state amplification. Good speakers and headphones are still a Must.
Start taking magnesium dietary supplements daily. DO NOT buy cheap magnesium oxide at Target or a supermarket–your body won’t absorb it and it has bad digestive side effects. Buy magnesium citrate or malate (e.g., online) instead. Your body uses magnesium to process nerve signals and it helps to mitigate the issue.
Of course, avoid loud volume music and sound. Use high quality headphones, speakers, and sound sources. I also find that fuzz/noise rock is the most stressful for the ears–it seems impossible for the brain to fully process it (e.g., punk rock, Wolf Alice, Sleighbells, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain, etc.)
I’ve had terrible sinus problems as I’ve gotten older, and now at 42 I do get more than the normal episodes of ringing in my ears. Primarily my right ear.
Mostly I feel fairly constant pressure in my ears, and I am especially sensitive to outside pressure, so much so that typical IEMs are a no-go for me. The only ones I can tolerate now are the open-back Audeze iSine 20 earphones. Luckily, they sound fantastic and I work in a very quiet office environment. But even then, I may offload them soon just to get the transducers a bit further from my ear canals.
I’ve always listened to music at lower volumes in order to keep my ears sharp and prolong my enjoyment of music as much as possible.
I have 14-years working on runways and shooting heavy weapons, as well as a few concert sets with little or no hearing protection: yeah, I have tinnitus. I always liked the sound of crickets. Now I can have them all winter long.
At first I thought it would free me of my audio addiction. No such luck.
Thank you for that tool. Very interesting. I have wondered if I had a mild case of tinnitus. Have tried to take care of my ears, almost always using some kind of protection at rock concerts. Don’t think dirty. It’s my ears I’m talking about.
Usually I have traced my ringing back to a noisy flyback transformer, or a computer fan bearing going bad, or something. Will have to work with the tool. Using a DAC and the HE-560s the sound gets strange up high - I think above about 15000 hz I’m mostly hearing some harmonics, although some frequencies seem to purify.
If I have tinnitus, it might be in the 9500 hz range. It’s really minor, so it’s hard to tell. And I have a laptop with a noisy fan not that far away.
I played in bands most of my life but my worst mistake was at age 22. A friend invited me to go shooting a 357 magnum in a small box canyon sans ear protection. Needless to say, was near deaf for a week.
My test showed ringing at 7000 and 7600.
I developed tinnitus in my late teens, when my favorite pastimes were concerts and shooting. 20 years later my doctor showed me a plot of my hearing frequency response with a clear notch in the midrange “characteristic of percussive sound damage, usually accompanied by tinnitus.” “Did you use firearms or listen to loud music when you were younger,” he asked? We were young, and invulnerable (and our parts - ear parts - invulnerable too).
I found that improving the sound quality of played music, especially decreasing distortion, helped immensely, launching me on this voyage of discovery. I can enjoy music despite the loud whine I hear, and even listen at a lower volume than I used to ( with iPhone + earbuds or cheap headphones).
What an interesting idea! I cannot get the tester to work fully right now, but I will definitely pursue it.
It seems that I've spent most of my life with ringing in my ears, but it is that ringing that actually brought me and my love for music reproduced at it's best back together after 20 or so years apart. Life changes and work ethic left me little time to enjoy music like I did when I was working in the sound reinforcement industry. Now it not only provides pleasure again, but also provides a relief from my tinnitus.
Only intermittently for a couple of seconds, then the ringing stops.
Never had problem myself, but I do care about my hearing and take no excuses when it comes to minimizing the damage. I would rather disappoint a lot of people by not going to a loud venue, than to risk permanent mark on my senses.
Although earplugs usually solve the dilemma.
I’ve had tinnitus since my early twenties. I’ve been playing in rock bands and going to concerts since I was 15, and I never took tinnitus seriously. I always had a ringing in my ears after a concert or a rehearsal, but it was always gone the next day. Well, one day it didn’t.
I’m in my late thirties now, and I started thinking, that if I’m going to live with this, it might be better if the music that comes in is at least as clean as possible. So that’s why I started looking into better headphones. Thanks tinnitus.
Personally, I’ve found three things (used together - most important) that help with the effect of tinnitus (mine is at about 10K and is made worse when visiting large stores with ventilation systems)…
Sleep (good sleep patterns are essential but not always possible)
Hydration (drink plenty of water during the day)
Brazil nuts - yes you read it right! I read somewhere that Tinnitus is affected by the level of Selenium, and rather than take selenium direct, have two Brazil nuts each day. I am the most sceptic of these type of suggestions, but I have to say it seems to work for me.
I started noticing a ringing around 4 weeks ago, but I’m not sure if that’s when it actually started. The sequence of events that led me to notice it:
Went to Best Buy to demo some WH-1000x and QC35’s.
Both demo units had volume levels way too high, and every time I switched back and forth, I had to re-reduce the volume.
Left store with mild pain in my ears, but bought the 1000x for further testing.
Hated how much worse they sounded compared to CB-1, even with LDAC and high sample rate.
Woke up the next morning paying close attention to how my ears felt, and noticed the buzzing.
Pain in the ears (especially with bassy tracks) went away after a few days, as did the WH-1000x’s.
Back in Jan, I did go skydiving for the first time, and my helmet had no ear protection. The overwhelming sound and wind during the freefall is something I still remember. As soon as the chute deployed, I felt a huge weight off my ears, and I could start hearing things other than my own screaming again. There was also a loud ringing that went away by the time we landed.
So I’m not really sure what started it, but it’s there. After going to an audiologist and ENT last week to check it out, my hearing test came back as “excellent hearing,” but the ENT simply said, “Yeah it’s Idiopathic, aka we have no idea why. Try to avoid loud noises.”
Some of the options mentioned here are really intriguing to me, particularly the notch therapy and magnesium intake. I wonder if something as simple as increasing the amount of magnesium rich food will have any effect. It’s something I’m willing to try for a bit.
As not an audiologist and not a neurologist, but one with idiopathic experiences – employ your own testing and put limited faith in the experts. They truly don’t know much about the subtle interactions between the brain and sensory systems. Many things can go wrong and specific individuals can have slightly different neural wiring that provides access (awareness) to quirky stuff.
As you seem to be strongly affected by wind (random noise / white noise), my instincts say this relates to your brain trying to organize sounds that it cannot organize. Try listening to the all-time noise pop benchmark album: My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” (1991). This album is notorious for being 90% noise and 10% structure – the author (Kevin Shields) reported developing tinnitus during its creation. It’s also a quite famous album and has been subject to years of analysis, remakes, etc. It may induce instant ringing (if so, stop listening!)
I say this because of experience several years ago when 2nd and 3rd order musical complexity (e.g., the echoes of live performances) and distortion (i.e., any hard rock) resulted in static and ringing. Metaphorically, it’s as if all the leaves and branches were cut off a tree – just able to process the core sounds while the rest was misheard as static/ringing.
My self-created strategy involved (1) listening to CLEAN and SIMPLE music that doesn’t strain the ear, such as Sinatra, Carpenters, Norah Jones, Paul Simon, etc. (2) the use of high-quality headphones, and (3) magnesium. IMO it has nothing to do with volume, as the symptoms can occur at very low decibel levels. But, it may follow from excess high volume in the past.