Do you get Ringing in the Ears from your hi-fi?

Lets face it, any prolonged exposure to loud sound can produce a permanent hearing loss. Even ONE exposure to sound over 120 DB for a few minutes can permanently damage the delicate ear apparatus. Have you found yourself buying higher powered amps and turning the volume up over the years, or have you joined the ranks of those listening to 6" speakers and 2 watt triodes? I limit my exposure to under 15 minutes per day. Some say that a person can listen an ultra clean sounding, low distortion system without any hearing loss, such as in a recording studio. I have found that listening to sealed enclosure speakers(klh or AR) produces more hearing loss that a bass reflex speaker will. Have you ever noticed RINGING IN THE EARS after listening to your stereo? This is actually an indication of damage to the hearing mechanism.
I have found that listening to sealed enclosure speakers(klh or AR) produces more hearing loss that a bass reflex speaker will.

Please explain how you measured this increase in hearing loss.

I damaged both eardrums several times by flying while having a cold and/or sinus infection. The typical remedy is a lot of antibiotics for a month or two, along with not flying for a while. I say all this, because even with ear damage, I have never experienced ringing in my ears while listening to my stereo systems. I am also sure that aging (48 years old) is having an effect somewhere here, as well.

This may be partly attributable to that I listen at very moderate levels ... I live in an apartment house and try to be a good neighbor, but also, the music doesn't sound appealing to me if played very loudly. The one hearing change that I have noticed is that my hearing is much more sensitive/discerning of music that is not properly played back ... thumping, muddy bass; shrill treble; noisy recording; etc.

Interesting enough, I have now made the transition to tube amplifiers (Prima Luna), because I find the resulting sound richer, warmer, and more musical sounding. In one system, I use big, ol' AR speakers (AR 302's with 10" woofers); yet in another system, I use Omega Super 3's, a high efficiency with a single 4 1/2" driver. I like how both systems sound. With my iPod, I use KOSS 55's .. a $20 clip on type headphone, where the earpieces just dangle down alongside my ear.

In another thread a few weeks back, there was a thread asking has the type of music that you listen to changed, as a result of buying better equipment. In my case, I find that I listen to a lot more opera and classical these days, because those CD's just seem to be better recorded (I stopped using vinyl about 10 years ago). I notice that I deliberately search out for music that sounds beautiful, as opposed to angry ... more Placido Domingo and less Metallica.

Regards, Rich
in my childhood due to a freequent and destructive ear infections i lost hearing on my right ear. after this period is gone(underwent adenoids surgery when i was 10) the infections had ceased and the hearing started to come back but still not completely.

when i listen to the music especially rock i could say that none could stand in same listening room.

i use Totem Forrest and biamp them with 250W Sunfire SRA and VTL MB100.
I deliberately search out for music that sounds beautiful, as opposed to angry

Me too, Rich. Well said. And of course, less blasting with Metallica means less ear damage.

( I still like Dylan but he wrote a lot of angry songs, and if they don't also have a sense of humour I can't listen to them. The good ones sound better on vinyl, the mad ones are easier to skip on CD. Can't have it both ways, nuts. )

To really do your ears in takes levels at which the gear may well be distorting. Audiophiles don't like that much, I've noticed.
Does Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home" qualify as a happy song or an angry one???
Years ago an occasional drunken party and my Cerwin-Vega D9's at 101/dB/w/m being hammered with 330 w/ch resulted in a few ear ringers. I still have the speakers, but they are in retirement...

I think the car stereo caused as much or more damage though.

All in all, I'm surprised I can still hear as well as I can - which is not to say extremely well, but enough to still enjoy it.

I wasn't quite going there ... obviously, I was referring to the overall sound or tone of the music. Lately, I look to music to be soothing and beautiful. Opera works, because even though I may know the plot, I can't understand the words ... which leaves me free to focus on the vocals and the music.

Dylan is interesting though. I enjoy his music so much and own just about every album, yet I find "Hurricane" very angry and "Idiot Wind" not so. Go figure.

Regards, Rich

P.S. Shawn Colvin is equally intriguing. "Avalanche" is a great song, but man there is some anger there.
By the way the ringing in the ears is called tinnitus.
TOO MUCH VOLUME WITH DISTORTION MIGHT DO THAT!! I prefer McIntosh tubes and Vandersteen speakers and 'normal' volume.
I have no taste for classical, prefering music with lyrics.
Regarding reflex vs. acoustic suspension speakers, it is well known that reflex speakers have more distortion in the bass. But, our hearing does not pick that up as much as it would in the mid range. So, maybe that is a moot point. I'd think that the treble being harsh due to a forward biting tweeter could cause ringing,especially if the room has excessive reflections. I can listen all day with no fatigue to my system. I you can not, there is a problem somewhere. Mating solid state with a biting tweeter and cold walls in your room could be the problem. More volume just makes it worse.
Elvis-costello: The test I frequently use to test myself for hearing loss is based on a century-old medical exam called the "watch tick test". A person with normal hearing can usally hear the ticking of a pocket watch held at approx. arms distance from the ear. After listening to efficient loud Altec single frame speakers my hearing actually improves, however after listening to the same music over KLH or other sealed enclosure speakers even at lower sound levels, I am unable to hear the pocket watches ticking. Also, the only way to test for ringing in the ears (tinnitus) is to lay still in a bed for ten minutes in a very quiet room. You may then hear the sound of the "ringing" is a constant high pitched sine wave tone (800Hz to 2000Hz). This is what the Beatles referred to as a muscian being "tuned to a natural E(tone)". I have found that after a few half hour exposures to loud music that this high pitched ringing in my ears lasts for several weeks. I cannot believe that none of the other readers have heard this ringing in the ears. This sound indicates that the nerves and cochlea have been overstressed. It is the bodies way of telling you to "STOP WITH THE LOUD MUSIC OR YOU'LL BE DEAF" Sometimes this tinnitus can become permanent, and becomes louder with more exposures to loud music, there is no cure but this ringing may stop after 5 to 10 years of NO LOUD SOUNDS. Please give your ears a rest. One way to restore eharing is to place soft rubber ear pllugs in the ears for 4 to 12 hours, this allows the entire inner ear to have full rest and recovery.
The medical term for ear ringing is called Tinnitus. Do a google search on this - there's plenty info.

Hpims viewpoint is spot on. Also, I find playing music louder comes from a high system noise floor. Over the years of improvements introduced in my system, volume levels have dropped.
Wow , is that really Elvis Costello?? If so you are awesome dude!!!!Way ahead of your time!
Rasta is right about the condition described as a constant ringing "in the ears," as is Mint604. I've had it for 7 years, and sometimes it will all but disappear while other times it's constant and troublesome. My wife has it, too, and she has never been a loud-music person; nor have I, actually. I'm now using tubes (Almarro), high-sensitive speakers, listen to both CDs and SACDs, have once again started listening somewhat exclusively to instruments, whether classical or contemp acoustic, as well as jazz. I still like some vocals (Peter Gabriel on SACD is quite nice, in fact, as is the "Gaucho" by Steely Dan, and even have 400-500 vocal CDs), but I never did try to blast down walls with any kind of music, even though I've generally had the equipment to do so. My tinnitus probably didn't result from loud music, though I can't know this, but it is a med condition that has existed for centuries, perhaps for 1000s of years. I can barely notice it as I type this, in fact. Well, back to the music.
Ringing in the ears, chances are you have done permanent damage to your hearing. Sounds above 85db for a prolong period can be harmful to the hearing.
When I listen to my system the average sound db level is around 75db with short peaks into the 80s db range, measured from my listening seat. I have to admit in my 20s, 30s,and even mid 40s I listened to music way to loud.

Speakers that hurt my ears to listen to very long at a moderate to high levels. One that comes to mind is the Dunlavy loud speakers. Nice sounding speaker, but listener fatigue came early with the Dulavy 3 speakers.

Hear is just one of many sites I found on Google about hearing loss.
Buy a bunch of those soft, foamy earplugs and learn to get them into the cannals of your ears. Wear every night when you've got them deep seated. If not in properly they don't do much good. You know when they are in as you can feel them expanding and causing pressure, and the aural world slowly disappears. Or, go to an audiologist and get custom fit ones.

I had tinnitus about 5-6 years ago that got to a level of great botheration. Ear doctor told me to wear earplugs everynight and on every airline flight. Also said to only use car windows for ventilation when first entering, then roll up and use A/C. I did all these things and I now have to concentrate to notice the ear ringing.

It use to intrude on music listening, now I never notice it.
There are certainly other causes of tinnitus than sound exposure, and if you have a continuing experience you should get to a otologist or at least a good ENT guy who could refer you to an otologist for appropriate evaluation. These guys will likely have your hearing sensitivity checked by an audiologist, but it should be more than that to eliminate other potential causes, e.g. tinnitus can be a symptom of a tumor which if caught in time can be operable.

By all means, do protect your hearing by listening at reasonable levels. Rock concerts can damage your hearing, so don't try to recreate anything near such perceived levels in your home. I think distinguishing between the effects of ported, air-suspension, or infinite baffle speakers is just more of the smoke and mirror stuff so common on Audiogon forums. It's high sound pressure levels, aka high dB SPLs, that get you.

I should relate a personal experience: My best friend's father suffered from tinnitus, and went to his GP who told him he should just get used to it. He asked me about it, because he knew I worked as a graduate student at a research center that was funded to study the effects of noise on hearing. I recommended he go to the House Institute in LA, where they identified a tumor that had it not removed would have become life threatening. He died over 40 years later at a fine old age. Don't ignore tinnitus. It usually has a simple cause, but not always.

Only when I turn it past 3 o'clock.
my father lived with hearing loss in his right ear for years in fact he was allmost deaf in that ear,before he died he had to go in for a mri & while he was in the machine he started screaming in pain,they pulled him out of the machine & he had blood running from his ear,they pulled a peice of schrapnel from his ear from a head wound in korea.

whats amazing is that not only was he lucky the machine didnt suck the metal right thru his brain but within days of getting released from the hospital his hearing came back in that ear.

not related to audio but a true story none the less.

I have tinnitus in the left ear only and it is intermittant.It started after a loud Three Dog Night concert at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville,NC 3 years ago.My hearing seems normal(for age 57) and I listen to everything from classical to Allman Brothers at no higher than 70 to 75 db with some 85db excursions. The medical recommendations are to keep the SPLs below 85db and you are okay. Three Dog night was way louder from the 5th row. I had no earplugs and stuffed paper in my ears, but it didn't help. I'm sure I have some damage because of the continued tinnitus. Be careful of concerts.
Jndean, do you use a sound machine to help you sleep?

Bigjoe,real interesting story!
I am 62 and tinnius is part of my life, do not remember a day without. The pitch I hear is quite loud, I would have to listen to music a little loud to cover it up. Never went to a rock concert. The loudest sound I ever heard was jet power truck at the drag strip, just had to plug my ears, WAY to loud. The sound set off some car alarmes in the parking lot which was further from the source.

I always sleep with a fan on mostly for the sound, but after reading this thread, I'll add a timer to it.
Mike, that's one crazy story. What was his life like once he had his hearing back in that ear?
It's a real bummer to get tinnitus. One day I had perfect hearing....the next tinnitus. I don't know what caused it..too many concerts or? I do know that it makes being an audiophile very difficult since you can get distortions during playback. No cure, no fun. I now protect my hearing in all loud situations and you learn to live with the constant careful!!
One thing that I have noticed with the ringing in my ears; since I have switched to silk soft dome tweeter speakers from speakers with metal tweeters, the ringing does not increase after a listening session. The speaker change was coupled with a tube amp change as well. Actually, I went from all SS to an integrated with a tube in the pre section and a SS amp section.
Just a thought.
Can't say what effect your system might be having on the ringing in your ears, but I have tinnitus (not from my system though) and that I am able to reduce it considerably by lowering my salt intake. This is something that is frequently recommended by doctors for people with tinnitus. Tinnitus can also be exacerbated by taking aspirin. You really should see a doctor about this, though. What would you do if you started to have trouble seeing because your vision was turning cloudy?
Could be distortion, could be metal tweeters, could be SS amps, but more than likely it's simply the +125dB SPL...
I was just making an observation...not a recommendation. The ringing, for me, increases greatly with caffiene and alcohol.
I ran across this on Google. I thought it may be of some interest.
Interesting, I use music as white noise though.
Works for me !
Ringing can also be caused by your diet. Happens to me form time 2 time.
A number of years back when Prilosec was persciption only, I used it for about 1-2 years. It worked well, and I then later I noticed I had ringing.

On a message board about reflux, someone mentioned getting ringing after taking Prilosec. A few other people mentioned the same.

I do believe there could be some connection. ANyone else take prilosec or similar class of meds and notice anything?

I have extremely sensitive hearing now (and always did to some degree).

Things like audience applause make me plug my ears. I always take foam earplugs to concerts, and have for years, but have been at my fare share of shows/clubs in my 20's with no "protection."

ALso my ringing is much worse after spending time at my computers - I edit video for a living and can have as many as 20 hard drives whirring at one time. I think there is alot of ultrsonic freqs. with drives, as other people I know in my field claim the same problem. I should havge done this years ago, but I just ordered a "Silence Case" custom sized for a G5 and a PC tower plus 3 terrabytes of raid storage all in one case - should be here in a few weeks. For now I am using ear plugs while editing. Hearing Fans (like when sleeping also make it worse for me instead of covering it up)

There used to be a Tinitus email list - but can't find it now. The guy who ran it was a big proponent (or maybe shill) for a Dr. Shemesh (i think) in Isreal who claims to be able to cure almost everyone. Thing is, you have to live there for a month or two. He tries everything in terms of diet, drugs (stopping them) and I believe he may also perscribe meds as a last resort.

I am in NY so I have access to some of the best specialists - I should check it out, but haven't yet.

I am also very sensitive to digital recordings (maybe it's my DAC) bu many CD's now sound irritating - vinyl much better though. There just seems to be a white noise in the treble of CD's for me. Hopefully the Cerious Technologies complete cable system I ordered (as well as speakers- the Two/bass) will have the very relaxed sound I need to balance out the PS audio GCC-100 I have. That control amp is so revealing - it makes CD worse I think. Getting a PS Audio DAC as well as soon as it's released. Hopefully that will be sweet sounding as well. I have justified doing a huge $$$ upgrade on the posibility that at some point I may not be able to enjoy stereo listening, so why not enjoy now while I still have my hearing and Tinitus isn't so bad I can't listen.

Great thread!!!