Aggrivated tinnitus from speakers?


I'm new to the forum and was looking for some advice. I recently put together a system comprised of a McIntosh MA6900 + a pair of KEF R7s.

I've always had hearing sensitive to high frequencies, and have a very high frequency tinnitus at 18,000k. That's why I went with the Mac, as everyone talks about how smooth and musical it is. When I was shopping for speakers, I was doing a lot of research but then the KEF R7's went on crazy sale and I was able to pick up a pair for under 2k. It seemed like too much of a deal to pass up, especially with all of the glowing reviews, but maybe that was a mistake on my part...

I'm noticing when I listen to the system, my tinnitus activates at a lower frequency for several hours afterwards. I notice this most on FLAC / MQA - quality tracks on Tidal (via WIIM w/ integrated DAC, at very reasonable volumes - <85db ) It seems to happen less when I listen to vinyl or CD-Quality tracks, but it still happens.

It's driving me crazy and I'm so disappointed as I thought this was going to be my ultimate setup and I dropped a lot of $. The Mac has just been to an auth service center for new lamps and was bench tested and given a perfect bill of health after a small bias adjustment, so I don't think it's the problem.

I decided to use some headphones to see if I experienced the same thing... Senn. HD650's let me listen for long periods without problems. HD660S2s seem to give me maybe a little sensitivity after awhile, but the sensitivity I get from the KEF's is totally different.

I realize I should have demoed the speakers, but I just jumped on the deal - partially on their reputation and also because their narrow, tall size was ideal for the room layout.

Any advice on how to get to the bottom of this? Do I need to test different speakers or do I need to treat the room? I'd hate to give up the Master level recordings because I mentally swim in the detail and love it. I just hate the thought of not being able to enjoy the system properly, but I'm not sure where to start on making  it work for me.




yeah, I have tinnitus as well.  I bought Wharfedale Lintons and class A amps, smart cabling and limited the volumes, really helped.  Then I moved to new house with a lot bigger room.  Now, I have McIntosh MA 8950 Integrated and Polk Audio R700s, I settled on this combo because it works, doesn't aggravate my tinnitus.  I find myself getting away with higher volumes with this combo. 

Coming from a newbie, as I read your post, your descriptions are somewhat similar to what I had experienced. with my KEF speakers(Though not as nice as an r7) I could not turn the dial past 45 without after 30 minutes having to turn the music off. my solution was to get a case(12) of 703 Owens Corning, rigid fiberglass panels, Joanne fabrics, colored burlap, and fir strips to frame. Placed them strategically around the room. Now I regularly start my listening at 55 and on really good recordings will push it to 65 and listen for as long as I care too. If you have WAF issues professional panels can be purchased at sites like GIK Acoustics. Hope your Listening will once again, be enjoyable. 

I’ve always had hearing sensitive to high frequencies,

a) Never point a concentric driver directly at away. Toe it away 15 to 20 deg.

b) If a) wasn’t sufficient, get a Schiit Lokius EQ and start cranking the high bands down.

It is also a wise idea to absorb/place absorptive panels on the ipsilateral/contralateral reflection points.


Thanks for the replies everyone - I currently have the speakers straight out although I did like the sound initially when toed in before my ears started to hurt. I'll try toeing them out too. I do think it could possibly be the room...There is a wall of glass on one side and a brick fireplace on the other, but a big sectional sofa in front of the windows and 9x12 shag rug in the listening area under the sofa .help  The ceiling is strange too with low sections and a channel above where the speakers are. I wish I could upload a photo of the room to share. I know it's not ideal. When I do the clap echo test in the seat where I listen, it's not too bad/loud at all . But when I clap near the fireplace or the windows of course it's amplified a LOT and hurts my ears. Is there a way I can post a photo of the room?

I do have an EQ - part of my problem is I historically favor a V shaped setting, which I'm sure dialing up the treble isn't helping the problem. I probably need to learn to enjoy a more neutral sound. I've heard that it's like many of the best things in life, an acquired taste. That said, I don't think my ear is sophisticated enough yet to adjust the EQ for the room conditions.

I was wondering if I should bring the amp somewhere with me to test different speakers (it's 75 lbs!)  Or on the other hand, try to audition speakers in the space? I feel like my SO would kill me. haha



Have you tried using quality sound filtering earplugs.  I have used Alpine Cleartone ear protection plugs when attending concerts etc. takes the edge off.  Available on amazon.