Tube solid state or hybrid with extreme tinnitus

     Hello fellow agoners.  I’m in the market for a headphone amp and dac.  I’ve decided to go seperates.  Focal Stellias are the headphones.  Cambridge Audio  universal disc player is my source.  Redbook cds are the medium.  I will be buying a seperate transport in the future and am contemplating  selling the Cambridge CXU before any hours are put on it. Super Audio is not a medium I’m interested in anymore. The player has never been plugged in so it is new in box in storage 7 years now:  I did open it recently yet again never plugged it in.  
     I need the least digital sounding and lowest noise floor produced amplifier I can afford.  I realize this is something we all strive for.  I suffer from  an extreme case of tinnitus or ear ringing.  I’m hoping head/neck surgery will resolve this or at least make it better.  I love music.  This has taken a toll on my listening enjoyment and even the length I can listen to music.  Music is a very powerful form of healing that I will not give up.  Music does not make the ringing worse and actually helps as it gets  my mind off of the screaming in my ears. 
    Here’s a rundown of my current headphone setup and the amps and dacs I’m looking at.  A separate transport is next.  I’ll start with the source.  My listening consists of 99% redbook.  I do surf the web and listen to some samples as I am an avid collector of cds and a new band or further releases from a band are always in the making.  I listen to progressive rock, fusion, some jazz rock and some classic rock.  
My source is a Cambridge Audio CXU universal disc player.  Headphones are the Focal Stellias.  
The following  are being considered for amp and dac.  One of the products  is a combo amp dac yet I would still be purchasing a seperate dac.

  1. Woo Audio WA 22 2nd Ed.
  2. Rogue Audio RH 5
  3. Simaudio Moon Neo 430 HAD
  4. Woo Audio WDS1
  5. Benchmark DAC 2DS
  6. Benchmark DAC 3HGC
  7. Bryston BDA1

As can be seen most products are used and offered for sale here on audiogon.  The Woo WA22, Rogue and DAC3 would be new purchases. I was set on the WA22 but my ears have me concerned with the tubes as they have a hum.   I’m also thinking this will not bother me and may even help to hypnotize the tinnitus away from being so bothersome.  The music itself helps tremendously.  Woo owners could surely help with this.  Thanks for your time and any thoughts.  I’m open to other brands too.  







I don't use headphones often but I have experience with Moon and have compared them to tube gear.  I would encourage an audition of any of their equipment.

I have experience with both Tube gear and Simaudio and @overthemoon is right you should give the 4230 or the 230 HAD an audition. 

I was set on the WA22 but my ears have me concerned with the tubes as they have a hum. 

If your headphone amp has hum, something is wrong. 

I am not a doctor, but I would NEVER use headphones or earbuds having Tinnitus. I am only saying this because I don't want it to get worse for you. Make sure your ENT approves of this.

This is a grab from Google

People with Tinnitus Should Avoid Earbuds, Earphones, and IEMs. In-ear monitors (IEMs), also called earphones, sit directly in the ear canal. ... The sound energy in IEMs is directed directly into the eardrum, which can be irritating or even harmful for people already suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus.

I have bad tinnitus and I find ear phones and ear buds to be the WORST thing for the affliction.  The direct sound itself is uncomfortable, but it's also that it's really hard to estimate how loud I'm listening - easy to listen too loud.

FWIW I use conrad johnson tube amps in my system, driving Thiel and Joseph Audio speakers.  I find I can select tubes that are easier to listen to than others if my tinnitus is bugging me. 

I also have a CJ preamp which is generally easy to listen to.  However I'm currently trying out a Benchmark LA4 solid state pre-amp.  I find it actually quite smooth and hash-free to listen to.  So in a way it is relaxing.  In another way..the tube amp fills out the sound so piercing instruments are less sharp sounding.  On the Benchmark preamp, even though the sound is generally smooth and hash free, it does sound thinner and so thin, high frequency instruments can sound more piercing to the ear.


I agree, tinnitus sufferers should not use headphones to listen to music. I recently had a visit to the audiologist and my ENT as my tinnitus has become more severe. He knows I'm an audiophile and specifically said no headphones, music can be too loud. 

To the OP. When I first saw your post yesterday, I 
thought why in the world is he using headphones?
The posts above are absolutely correct. Headphones
are the absolute worst sound delivery system for
someone with tinnitus. Please avoid them and do
not risk doing more damage to your hearing. I have
had tinnitus for 20 years and know the related issues.

Instead, get some speakers with a non fatiguing sound
like Harbeth or Spendor. Members here will have other
speaker recommendations. 

In my research, the only time headphones are used is during some type of tinnitus treatment in a controlled environment.

Yes, that is correct. Usually for sound enrichment
to help the person habituate to the tinnitus sound.