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Headphone advice needed to attempt Tinnitus Retraining Therapy

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello all,


This is my first post after years of lurking around HeadFi forums.


I have been suffering from Tinnitus for ~4 years now. It was mostly manageable until this autumn when medication side effects increased the perceived volume such that I now hear it 3x louder in the left ear and 2x louder in the right ear.


Now the ringing cuts through most things like watching television, etc. I am no longer able to ignore it…


After much research on Tinnitus, TRT and nutrition deficiencies I’ve been getting things together like vitamins, an Android application called White Noise to play nature sounds or (white, brown, pink, etc.) noise and Zen type sounds/music to try and sleep at night.


To provide perspective for my advice request here is the gear that I currently own while being mindful that I am not an audiophile:


NuForce NE-7M connected to mobile devices


o   Provides isolation and good audio qualities for mobile devices with comfort once you get passed the initial weirdness of putting something in your ears.


Grado SR80i connected to mobile devices or Rotel Amp headphone out.


o   Good audio qualities but lacks comfort due to hot ears after short periods.


Sennheiser HD515 connected to Rotel Amp headphone out.


o   Sound is irrelevant, as I can't stand putting these things on my head due to the clamping sensation.


I am looking for at least two solutions both of which include open back headphones WITHOUT isolation.


The TRT idea is that I wish to play sounds at low volume in the headphones and still be able to interact with my environment.


Picture listening to television with headphones on with the main source of audio coming from B&W speakers while wearing headphones that play low volume sounds that retrain my brain to not pay attention to the ringing in my ears. The principle should also apply to meetings, conversations, etc.


ALERT -> words like “wireless” or “Bluetooth” may appear bellow! ;o)


Initial requirements:


  •       No external amps required
  •       Maximum comfort i.e. NO CLAMPING / NO HOT EARS to allow lengthy periods usage
  •       Good or better sound quality
  •       Optionally wireless


I have been thinking of two pairs, one for work and one for home use.


I was hoping to find open back Bluetooth headphones to connect to my phone to wear during the day and another open back headphone for use at home with greater range. I was also hoping to find something to put in my pillow, as I wasn’t very successful sleeping with headphones.


Unfortunately my hopes have been met with the harsh reality that no one seems to make open back Bluetooth headphones thus I am looking for advice on something portable without sound isolation.


For home use I’ve been looking at Sennheiser RS220 but most reports seem to indicate lots of interference with sound cutting out (I’m aware that switching the WIFI to channel 11 helps).


I’ve been thinking of dismantling my RS80i to put into my pillow at least for a test since this is reversible.


At this point I am crumbling under the weight of too much choice. I am also limited to what I can audition in town so I am forced to potentially purchase headphones I’ve never tried. I live in Canada in the capital region, which makes ordering from the states somewhat more complicated.


I look forward to the heafi collective knowledge/advice and hope to be able to order something on Black Friday to save a few bucks as specialized Tinnitus maskers start at around $3,000.00 and only offer limited sounds without the option to adjust the treatment to my personal needs.


Thanks for reading this far!



post #2 of 8
Hi Pierre, take a look at sleepphones.com, which has a wireless model. I have an older wired one, which is pretty comfortable and sounds decent enough at low volume. I am not aware of a full size open-back bluetooth headphone, but the Sennheiser HD598 might be an option, if you can live with a cord. It might not be ideal for walking around, though. Some sport headphones (behind the neck or clip on) may work, if they are the type with on-ear pads or half in ear/earbud). Those would give a more secure fit while walking, but may not be comfortable for long periods of time.
post #3 of 8

I've got medium tinnitus that comes and goes according to my allergies.  However, I've found a few things out that minimize tinnitus effects that may be able to help you:


  1. Stay away from IEM's.  Regular earbuds are OK, but for some reason, IEMS exacerbate any predilection toward tinnitus.  I don't know - maybe it's the desire to get a better air-seal to increase the bass, or maybe it's just that IEM's focus so much on the eardrum.  In any event, I've found that I can listen to headphones at comparatively extremely high volumes and recover within several hours or a day and be OK.  Yet, a few hours with IEM's and it takes several days to recover.
  2. This may sound like a cop-out, but you need to focus on the absolutely best quality headphones that you can afford, with source - and particularly amplifier - of the same quality.  And I don't necessarily mean low-distortion.  Solid-state amps may measure extremely low distortion, yet when paired with reasonable-response performing headphones, the tizziness can kill your ears.
  3. See #2 above.  It's almost a holy grail, but you should focus on lack-of-harshness, yet with high-detail.  Unfortunately, it's a combination that usually means $$$.  You see, the absolute best systems of source-amp-headphones result in something with all-around warmth, revealing details, and a mid-range that can cause eargasms at low volume.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi SDBiotek,


I wasn't aware of this company's products. I looked into it and may order the bluetooth version to try it out.


Thank you for the suggestion.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your comments TomB.


Do you have examples of headphones that lack harshness and reveal details?

Especially comfortable ones as I seem to not be able to stand getting my head squeezed.




post #6 of 8

Sony ma900 is very open and light, though over the ear and might therefore be bulky. Koss ksc75 is also a good possibility (they are clip-ons). Very light, open and portable, and good soud for the price, also good to put under your pillow, as you can snap off the clips and put the 'phones under your pillow (or just keep the clips on).

post #7 of 8

Nasty thing tinnitus, it is not very well understood and in most cases no effective therapy can be provided. Some solutions offered cost an arm and leg without any scientific justification!


Before you spend more money, check out the various mods (modifications) available for the SR80 ear cups. Check about installing a larger foam from Grado's higher series 'phones or installing an inverted HD414 foams (among others). Perhaps with proper modification the SR80 would be both sonically adequate and comfortable.

post #8 of 8
RS 180 by Sennheiser, very rare interference issues and can be adjusted for volume for left and right ear separately. Not on par with wired but pretty decent nevertheless.
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