Recommended solid state amp for user with tinnitus

Hello all,

I'm 58 and been a music lover since my teens. Through a variety of jobs in noisy work environments (metal working), target shooting, loud rock in my teens, etc., etc., I have been a sufferer of tinnitus for many years.

I am finding the 20-year old Martin-Logan Stylos speakers in my home theater are aggravating the tinnitus. I am replacing them as the front left-right mains in my home theater with the new Monitor Audio Gold 300's (gen 5 2019), along with a PS Audio DirectStream DAC. My  Marantz AV7702mkII home theater processor will be the preamp for 2-channel playback. The speakers use a MPD (Micro Pleated Diaphram) high-frequency transducer for the tweeter,  90 dB Sensitivity ([email protected]) • 4 Ohms Nominal Impedance • 3.5 Ohms @1 kHz Minimum Impedance, 250 Watts Power Handling (RMS) • 100 - 250 Watts Recommended Amplifier Requirements (RMS).

I was looking for a solid state amp in the $2000 - $5000 range that would work well with the Gold 300 speakers and keep the sound warm and non-fatiguing with good resolution. Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated. I'm wondering if McIntosh might be suited for my situation(?). Any suggestions for solid state are welcome.

In my office, I have a PrimaLuna HP tube amp, PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Monitor Audio PL100 monitors, and they tend to be much easier on my ears and tinnitus issue. I do NOT want a tube amp for my system that I am asking for recommendations on, no way to place it in my cabinetry.

Thank you in advance,
17eaba70 6a0d 4386 a5cf cc3ecd1b2a11samster777
Have you tried addressing your tinnitus? I suffered tinnitus for years until I began taking vitamin D supplements and cut back on the drinking.

That said, it seems the inclination for those with tinnitus is to seek very smooth amps, like McIntosh, or those of class A topology. However, I found such amps were actually more fatiguing over long listening sessions. I moved onto a class AB Yamaha that is not exactly smooth but somehow is far less fatiguing. I have no explanation for why that is - maybe its circlotron circuit design that is very rare these days.

A good tube amp might provide welcome relief from solid state hardness in the treble range, as well as some other benefits.
The Usher R1.5 is class A the first 50w then 150w into 8ohm a/b
it is said to be very tube sounding, maybe worth a try!
Tinnitus can be very frustrating, especially for audiophiles.  I suffer from pulsatory tinnitus hearing loud swooshes of blood flow in my left ear with every heartbeat.  I can turn it down by adjusting my head and neck position. Crazy and maddening.  An MRI ruled out any major health concerns.  I have learned to live with it and when it comes to music I turn up the volume. 
Hi Samster, I'm a family doc and frankly, the only thing medicine has been able to do with tinnitus is make it worse. The technique I use the most is masking. Running a fan in the bedroom at night is an example. The constant droning will drown out the tinnitus for some people. Tinnitus will occur at different frequencies and may or may not be associated with hearing loss. The problem for many tinnitus sufferers is that their threshold of pain is lowered. Under no circumstance do you want to go louder than 95dB. I suggest you get a dB meter. I prefer analog displays not digital. 
I would think that the speakers and room acoustics would make a much bigger difference in regard to your ringing than the amplifier. You want to be able to tolerate a volume loud enough to mask the tinnitus but not so loud as to further damage your hearing. Certain frequencies will mask the ringing others will make it worse. If you can borrow a scientific tone generator you can exactly profile your own tinnitus then you could use a digital equalizer to cut back the frequencies that bother and advance those that mask. 
Having said all that I think the Benchmark AHB2 would be a great amp for you. If one is not enough power then you can add a second down the line. Good Luck,

Flatblackround, I hope what you had was an MRA of your neck and brain. Magnetic Resonance Arteriogram. Usually the cause of your problem is plaque in an artery plus or minus a conductive hearing loss. Sound is not getting from the eardrum to the inner ear normally but the inner ear itself is fine. Rarely do you find a congenital kink in an artery disrupting the blood flow causing the bruit. Usually this bothers people most at night especially if you bury your left ear in the pillow. Try the fan trick. It sometimes helps here also. Good luck,


Guys I need your addresses so I know where to send the bill;)))))
Mijostyn offers excellent advice about masking and determining what frequencies might be reduced or augmented to alleviate your problem.  Some McIntosh integrated amps offer equalizers that could be used for this purpose.  My issues are a bit different but masking certainly applies.  Good luck and happy listening.
Thanks Doc for your assessment and advice.  In spite of the problem my hearing tests ok.  I’ll review this with my new pcp.  Currently involved with recent onset of Afib which altered the character of my hearing issue.  Conversion has me in sinus rhythm and the heartbeats are now heard loud and clear.  Audio and medicine.  Fascinating. Getting old sucks.

Samster777,  To keep the sound warm and non-fatiguing , you really need to address your entire system, including the room itself.

I have the same exact issue you have with my hearing and preferred sound. The main thing for me was to find the correct speaker , associated gear and cables that kept me in that comfort range. Treating my listening room also helped from keeping certain frequencies from getting out of hand and becoming bright , or harsh.

I think it might be a mistake to limit yourself on your amp of choice based on what will fit in your cabinet. I think you should find the right amp for you first, then change the cabinet if needed.

Yes flatbackround, getting old sucks. Interesting solution to the problem. You could just stay in A.fib. Maybe only a third of the beats will conduct. If you are comfortable in A.fib. I would stay in A.fib long before I would take any medicine like Amiodarone. Some people unfortunately go into CHF and your hand is forced but I have loads of people in continuous A.fib doing just fine.
Good to know. Trying to figure this out. Thanks again.

I'm 65 with tinnitus.  Can your cabinet handle 240w heat?  My SS Pass Xa-25 runs 90 dB speakers louder than it has any right to.  It's class A at 50w at 4 Ohms (plenty LOUD) and 100w at 2 Ohms, class AB.  Good pricing at Reno Hifi.  Great amp.
This is a cool running,powerful, smooth sounding amp.I have tinnitus also and auditioned this amp for a couple of weeks.It reminded me of a Sunfire amp I used to own,it leaned very slightly to the side side of neutral.I ended up going with a tube amp instead,preferring a little more color in my system.
The Parasound Halo has a reputation for top end smoothness...I own the A23 and while it is not the be all end all for minute detail, it has a great low end and mid range...plenty of punch...really good soundstage and will NEVER sound screechy.

Here are a couple of suggestions...but a preowned A23 like the one linked below...or if you prefer black...wait a few weeks and one will undoubtedly pop up.  If you want new....then buy the new A23+ which has a little more power, a little different look...sounds virtually the same but as you might guess, costs more.

If you buy the preowned and don't like can resell it for virtually no loss...if you buy the new model and don't like it...send it back...but I'm pretty sure that this will do the trick.  At the Florida Audio Expo, Martin Logan demonstrated their products with Halo and the room sounded great.
I suggest that you try to listen to a Classe amp or integrated.  I use an older CAP 101 with Harbeth monitors, and I think the sound fits your description of what you want.  My model may be older and at the lower end of Classe equipment but you may find another model that you like.  And I hope the approach of addressing the issues caused by tinnitus in various ways will be fruitful.  I hope you will report back.  Good luck.
Samster777, I am very sorry for what you, and others, are going through, with these issues. Unless I am missing something, you have not mentioned the amplifier you were using to drive the MLs. Have you substituted the Monitor Audios in place of the Logans yet ? I am a retired audio consultant, and have put many systems together for listeners with hearing issues. Using test cds ( or lps ), I was able to determine what frequencies were the most offensive to them, and adding some kind of equalization to cut down on those frequencies, this was helpful. I also found, adding additional acoustic damping to the room, in specific areas, helped quite a bit as well. I believe both of these " fixes " were mentioned above. My best to you. Always, MrD.
Samster, General Hearing Instruments makes a tinnitus masker that I use when my tinnitus is bothersome. You can find the details on their website.
Thank you everyone for the responses and advice, I truly appreciate you all taking the time to do so.

jimcrane, what I have in my 5.1 theater system is a Classe CAV-150 6-channel x 150w bridgeable amp that I bought new in 1997.

I am considering multiple options to keep this amp in my system, in these possible configurations:

A) Bridge the Classe six channels to three channels, 300w x 2 for front left-right (Monitor Audio Gold 300's), 300x x 1 center channel, add a new 2-channel amp for rear surrounds

B) Use the balanced inputs on the Classe and have 150w x 2 for the Monitor Audio front left-right, bridge 300W to the center channel, use the remaining two channels 150w x 2 for the rear surrounds (no additional financial outlay, use what I have)

C) Buy a new 2-channel amp (hence my question on here) for the front left-right (Monitor Audio Gold 300's), bridge the Classe six channels to three channels, 300w x 1 for the center channel, 300w x 2 for rear surrounds

I did call Classe this morning and they said as long as I don't hear anything going, like one channel playing louder than another, to keep the CAV-150 going in my system. I asked if this 6-channel amp was a step down from their two-channel audiophile grade amps, and I got a somewhat reserved yes, not that they would describe it as a step-down, but not quite the same level as a dedicated 2-channel amp, BUT still head and shoulders above average consumer products by far.


Thanks again,
I mask my tinnitus at bedtime not with fan noise but music. I put a long Classical piece in the DVD player in the bedroom, and if I’m still awake when it’s over I get up and do something for awhile, then try again.
Dirty power causes the HF to sound unpleasantly tipped up - most irritating to tinnitus.  Have you addressed cleaning up the power with conditioners?   

I have a MIT-ISO Strip for the power conditioning 
bdp24, that might work for some people but usually structured sound keeps people up. In my case I'm fine sleeping with it. I wake up when it stops or changes tempo. Unstructured noise is generally better for masking. I have been very disappointed with masking devices (look like hearing aids) for tinnitus. What I usually get is complaints about the cost without significant benefits.
Not familiar with the MIT-ISO conditioner. How about cabling? Silver, silver-plating or rhodium-plating can also contribute irritating HF.
interconnects Are AudioQuest King Cobra and Black Mamba’s, speaker cables are AudioQuest Slate “No Frills”
The Digital Amplifier Company (DAC) makes very warm and smooth sounding digital amps that will fit your budget. I have had tinnitus most of my life and now at 55 it has gotten a little worse but I can still hear as good as I did 30 years ago. Go figure? I’m currently using a DAC Stereo Maraschino connected to a pair of Charney Audio Maestro horns with Omega RS7 drivers. The RS7 is a slightly softer and rounder sound than the Voxativ drivers Charney offers. No fatigue issues here just sweet sounding music. DAC offers a no frills 30 day return policy. You’ll only be out the shipping each way if you decide to return them. Hope this helps.
@rodge827 seems like some really solid advise. How was the transition from tubes to the maraschino with the rs7 driver? 
How was the transition from tubes to the maraschino with the rs7 driver?
Very easy, each type of amplification has its own character. There some attributes about the DAC amp I like better than the tubes and vice versa. Truth is I’m very satisfied with both amps. I have an upgraded ANK L3/4 preamp and ANK 300b Interstage mono blocks that I listen with as well. I leave the DAC amp on 24/7 and connected to a Sparkler S503 cd player. I do it this way this time of the year since I’m extremely busy with work and can only listen in blips and blurbs. Things usually slow down some in the Fall/Winter when the tube gear is primarily used since I have the time to warm it up and have longer listening sessions. Lately though I’ve been leaning towards selling off my tube gear and sticking with the DAC amp it’s that good!
I'd really like to hear the cherry. I've always been worried about over-dampening the lightweight, in my case, rs5 driver. 
DAC is going to make a set of amplifiers for audition in your own home. Tim promised to notify me when they are ready.
I second the pass labs xa25. It drives my B&W 804 d3s with no problem. Smooth, with resolution and no listening fatigue. I also have tinnitus in my left ear. 
You may not want to take this direction since HT is involved, but I have found switching preamps made the bigger, positive difference in the sound of my system. I went from 12AU7 signal tubes to 6SN7s and the sound was much fuller, robust, detailed, natural and very non-fatiguing. I was very surprised at the difference it made. Much more enjoyable. I have a very, very slight ringing in my right ear sometimes, not all the time. It got pronounced if I listened too loud or long using my old preamp. I am 64.
Lots of good suggestions here.  I'd start with your Classe option "B" simply because you'll use what you already have.  If the audio results are not acceptable, then you could undo the modification to your system and try one or more of the suggestions offered here.  If the audio results are acceptable but the modification doesn't give you the tinnitus relief you're hoping for, then you could try one or more of the suggestions.
I hope you'll keep us informed.
Try a pre Clarion McIntosh, I have the MC7270, very smooth top end. Classic McIntosh at less than half the price of new. If you don't get the results you want you can always get your money back out of it.
Hi Sam, I'm a musician and got tinnitus in my 30's which was a very loud constant ringing in both ears. I'd like to tell you about how I was able to reduce the ringing issue by 90%. It took a long time as in 5+ years but in my situation it was something I needed to try to do. It occurred to me that if the cause was damage to the cilia and the resulting random nerve activity it seemed intuitive that if the ear system got some "rest" it might help reduce not the damage per se but help quiet the whole system that causes the ringing. It worked. What I did was get ear plugs and wear them anytime I was awake and did not need to hear critically. So just around the house, traveling to and from work, etc. Now in my case the worst part was in playing music especially piano loud passages would ping my ears and cause louder ringing. Any loud sound louder than a mezzo forte would cause audible ringing to get worse for a short time. Over about 3 months of "resting" my ear with the plugs I noticed a obvious reduction in the reaction to louder sounds but still there was the constant ring. Over 12 months of faithfully using the plugs and avoiding like the plague really loud sounds for instance outside a jack hammer I notice a very significant reduction in the ping and also a  reduction in the ringing at night and in silent environments. I stopped going to concerts and stopped playing records for the first year also. This was itself "painful" but I felt necessary. I do not recall exactly but after 2-3 years of constant plugs (I got so used to it it was not a burden) the night ringing was reduced 50% and the ping was gone for loud piano playing. All in all I think I did the plugs for about 10 years slowly trailing off on how long during waking hours I wore them. After that period the ping went away except for very loud sudden sounds and the constant ring was reduced around 80+% Now I am able to play a sax or trumpet and go to a symphony concert and sit close up and not have those things re-excite the tinnitus. I still have a low level ring all the time but it's so low now that I can hear it only in 100% quiet at night and it's too quiet to bother me falling to sleep which was not true in the old days. I found by this experiment that absolute and long term rest of the hearing system allows something to occur which reduces the strength of the nerve firings by a huge percentage.  Good luck! 
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I like the smoothness of classic, cult, class A amps from previous decades.  In particular, Bedini, Forte model 4 and BEL 1001’s are my favorites.  All smooth as butter.
McIntosh c49 or the c52.    It three Dates a day in combination with some nuts!   It'll help your tinnitus. Also increase your garlic consumption.   
I have tinnitus on one side only (Meniere's Disease) and have owned the first SS McIntosh power amp ever made (the 2100) for decades. It is very tube like and may be the most so ever made by them. It is built like a tank and has never failed.

I use a more modern and more critical non soft SS preamp with it and it is a wonderful combination that is never irritating. I listen for many hours at a time at live performance volume to classical and jazz with no irritation whatsoever. If you can find a well maintained one you will not be sorry and will never lose a dime.

By the way, I have lots more stuff and this is my favorite setup of all of them.