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.




"have a very high frequency tinnitus at 18,000k."

I have RAGING tinnitus.

How did you get that number confirmed?

There is no "one size fits all" tip for managing/living with it. Try everything till something sticks.

Tinnitus here too.  Not severe though.  I usually use lower volume.  I even called the tinnitus hotline, but they never pick up, it just keeps on ringing.......

I am really sensitive to high frequencies, have been since I was young.  I’ve found speakers make a huge difference in listening fatigue, a ringing in my ears after a listening session.  I think you have gotten some great advice on room treatments, using an EQ and the DAC.  Even if you get that all “right” decent probability you’ll still need to address your speakers if they lean toward the brighter side.  I’ve tried to take brighter speakers and while making changes to the room, electronics, using an EQ helped, didn’t solve the issue.  

Soft Dome, silk tweeters along with various Ribbon tweeters paired with designs that trended toward a warmer, less analytical pull every drop of detail out of the music type speakers helped me out quite a bit, as much or more than any other change.  Once I got the speakers right, the gains made through room treatment’s, electronics were enhanced verses masking the issue when I had brighter speakers.  

I’d start with speakers so that you can then build around them when doing room treatments, making changes to electronics but you can also go the other way, do everything possible to make the speakers work and then swap them out but it’s a little like trying to modify an engine that isn’t really the best engine for the application to get it to work just good enough verses starting off with the right engine, then making modifications that only enhance the performance.  I chased trying to make several different speakers work in my set up because they were highly regarded and with the right recordings sounded breathtaking, best advice I got along the way from Audio Dealers was that you can’t cable your way, electronic your way (DAC’s, Pre’s, Amps) around speakers that for whatever reason, fatigue, sound signature, aren’t a fit for you.  Good News is that you have Mac gear, most of their gear is known for being more musical, less analytical, fatiguing, assuming the Mac already has their famous EQ settings, you have the right Pre / Amp to build around.  If you treat the room a bit, even without a speaker change, you should notice a difference, drop the right speakers in and should be a noticeable improvement, tweak your DAC / Streamer and that should be the whip cream and cherry on the Ice Cream Sundae.  

Good Luck! 

My Tinnitus started with a pair of KEFs, LS150metas. I wont blame the speakers though, more likely the Shingles vaccine I got earlier in the week. I’ve since tweaked the system, changed DAC and speakers, room treatments and played with cables. I listen to smoother recordings and never very loud. It’s a shame but it’s something some of us will have to live with. 

I have a McIntosh 352 Hybrid integrated amp.  I bought some new speakers and wanted a new amp to push them and so I got the McIntosh MC462 and the C53 preamp.  There was some additional clarity but the high end really aggravated my ears, so I had to go bak to the MA352.  The tubes give me a much warmer sound and I can listen for hours without fatigue.  But I still try not to go above 82db.