Tinnitus is a common problem. It affects about 15% to 20% of people, if you want to have some relief and find the best headphones for tinnitus, you are in the right place.
Before we start ill share a few words regarding tinnitus.
While some headphones may provide a temporary solution to tinnitus, some may make it worse so you really should pay attention.
Noise canceling headphones may sound good on paper, but by cutting out the environmental sound they tend to make tinnitus more hearable and worse.
Tinnitus is generally experienced as a phantom ringing in the ears, you hear sounds like buzzing, roaring, ringing, clicking, and humming.
Sadly, it’s a bothersome thing to have since it interferes with your ability to concentrate, it really affects a person’s quality of life.
Tinnitus is mostly triggered in people that are prone to loud noise exposures, for example, war veterans, explosions and gunshots may trigger it, or people that spend a long time in noisy environments like concerts, parties, etc.
Based on hours of researches and my knowledge, I have rounded up a list of what I think are the best options.
Here are the 5 Best Headphones For Tinnitus
5. Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 650
Sennheiser is a name that brings joy and confidence to the consumers and I would say “terror” to the competition.
Their range of headphones is one the most respected and popular options among DJs and producers (now after this article, I guess even among people with tinnitus).
Jokes aside, the Sennheiser HD 650 has been developed for the enjoyment of audio at home, with a lot of thoughts and innovation put into the design aspect.
Sennheiser decided to house those headphones mostly with plastic, but don’t let that lie to you, it didn’t steal anything from the overall impression of the high quality. While its enlarged elliptical design envelopes your ears with no discomfort at all.
Its open-back design will fight tinnitus and will keep the air passage at good levels to avoid overheating your ears. As for aesthetics, it won’t win any beauty awards but instead, it is designed in a minimalist simple, and clean way.
I’ll say it one word, they sound legendary.
Don’t be afraid of them being billed as headphones for professional use and DJs, they are not loud instead they provide warm and inviting mid-tones. The warm quality means that it presents the virtual stage intimately and in close proximity, meaning it has an ideal sound quality to fight tinnitus.
Everything from the brand name to design, the sound quality makes those headphones something that you definitely should consider.
There is another model similar to these, called the Sennhesier HD 600. You can read our comparison of the Sennheiser HD 600 & HD 650 to get a better idea.
4. Soundcore by Anker Life Q35
The first ANC headphone on the list and the most affordable one at the same time. Meanwhile later on the list, you will be greeted by the other two premium ANC’s.
Anker has made a name for itself with its devices that are aimed towards the low end market, and it’s sure crushing it by offering feature-packed headphones at a budget friendly cost. That’s also the case with their Q35.
The Q35’s are over ear headphones that house 40mm, drivers, deep in their cups. They are available in black color, pink and obsidian blue, the latter one being the most iconic one.
They look like they mean business, fairly bulky compared to some headphones, but nothing offensive and they are quite light. The faux leather ear cups have a nice mount of padding, and they don’t clamp your head hard. The comfort for the price they come with is there, so don’t bother with that part at all.
Now the ANC part, I feel like we are cheating on Anker, it rewards us with great active noise cancelation for the money, that even beats some rivals that come at a bigger price. The noise of boiler, dishwasher, cars/horns and other rumbling noises ( get it “rumbling noises” ) are almost nonexistent.
I don’t want to look like a paid reviewer from Anker, its ANC capabilities can’t match the big dog’s Bose and Sony, but I am more than happy with what they have to offer.
As for the sound quality, ill say it is good, and I want to leave it there. It’s not wonderful, it’s not awful either, It offers everything you need. But seems like it loves low-frequencies a bit more, so id advise turning the volume lower, cause tinnitus and bass are not on good terms with each other.
Battery-Life? Oh boy, this is a league on its own. It is capable of lasting 40 hours in a single charge and imagine this it’s only on paper. I had the chance to test them myself and it managed me 50 hours of longevity even with the ANC being turned on.
3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
As far as the noise cancelation goes Bose is what forged it and made it mainstream, but eventually the competition caught up, one of them being Sony, the nemesis or rival of Bose. Sony sure made some ANC hard-hitters, but Bose 700 sits at the top and continues to trade blows.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 marked a new path of Bose headphone design, and to sum it in 2 words: Beautifully Clean. They are available in Triple Black (Black) color and Silver Luxe (White ), the ear cups can rotate to 90 degrees so they can rest around your neck or for easier storage.
The headband is made of sturdy silicone that distributes the weight equally, to avoid too much pressure on your head. The synthetic leather ear cushions also feel great, no doubt that they are top-notch in build and comfort aspect.
The NCH 700 contains six microphones for noise cancellation, but it pairs two of those microphones with two others for a four-mic system that optimizes in the voice pickup. Not only does it eliminate and isolate background noise, but also it helps when you are in the call, the opposite to hear you crisp and clear.
Its ambient mode is what matters for people with tinnitus, it’s basically a dream for them. The goal of the ambient mode is to make it like you are not wearing headphones at all and bose sure nails that sensation.
Its sound quality is another thing that will ease tinnitus, the Bose 700 is not loud but instead, it offers a precise sound quality that ends up in a wide soundstage with balanced highs, mids, and lows. These are a great pair of headphones for listening to dialogues too. We also rated them as the best headphones for listening to podcasts.
Battery-life wise, it promises to be there with you through 20 hours of non-stop music.
2. AfterShokz Aeropex
On the second spot we have quite an interesting pick, that I think not only highly benefits athletes but people with tinnitus too.
Those are a pair of headphones that were designed to listen to music while you are running or doing activities in general and still to be able to hear what’s going around you.
If there’s no noise isolation how it will benefit people with tinnitus?
The ideology of those headphones revolves around using the bone conduction system to send music through the ear canal, without blocking them outright, meaning the sound won’t be boomy and high, it will feel like nice slow background music, perfect for tinnitus.
Their uncanny design doesn’t mean they are not comfortable, they weigh only 25 grams and can easily fit in your palm, making them quite light and easy on the head.
They are available in blue eclipse color, cosmic black, lunar grey, and solar red. They are made of a silicone material that looks quite nice and has that smooth feeling, rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, meaning it can easily survive up to 1 meter of water for at least 30 mins.
I’ll be honest and tell you guys that sound quality wise they are not the best, I mean not just the Aeropex but the bone conduction headphones in general. Which is something you should expect. Still, there’s nothing awful or fault at their sound quality, they provide good background music with crisp clear vocals.
And the battery life will accompany you through 8 hours of continuous playback time. I think it ticks all the boxes for an athlete with tinnitus.
1. Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 is a pair of headphones that don’t need an introduction, as they are best in class for noise cancellation.
I can go as far as and say they are one the best wireless headphones in history. As for the tinnitus, I’ve read a lot of nice feedback on them doing a great job keeping it at minimal.
Its predecessor Sony WH-1000XM3 stomped the competition with its announcement. Being XM3’s twin brother, it sure took design cues from it and if you were to put them side-by-side you will be hard-pressed to find the difference (You don’t want to put real-life twins side-by-side that’s offensive and rude, but it’s fine in this context).
There are a few changes but they are barely noticeable, for example, the headband cushion is slightly slimmer compared to the XM3 and the earcups are slimmer also, while earbuds have grown a bit.
Sony claims that those changes were made to make the XM4 more comfortable. The XM3 is also an excellent choice to fight tinnitus if you want a cheaper alternative option.
You can pick the 1000XM4’s in black, white, and now also available in blue color. They come in a soft-touch matte finish that is really sophisticated.
Portability is there too, weighing only 1 pound and can tilt/swivel for easy storage and transportation.
The selling point of XM4 and what is known for best would be its ANC (Active Noise Cancelling). It is one of the best ANC technology currently available (it is even flagged as the Bose ANC killer).
It uses 5 microphones to pick background noise and to eliminate them. Being one of the best headphones in the noise isolation aspect, I’d really recommend you guys not use this feature at its fullest, it will result in hearing the tinnitus more.
The XM4 sure doesn’t compromise on sound quality too, no surprise, they use the same 40mm, full-range drivers. It provides a nice warm sound, that would be perfect to relax to.
As for the battery life, it is a beast, capable of lasting 30-hours, which is completely in another level from the competition, who consider good battery life by lasting only half of this. It takes 10 min to quick charge it for 5 hours of playback.
Noise Cancelling Headphones on Tinnitus
As I mentioned above, noise isolation can make Tinnitus even worse so you should be extra careful. Always make sure the sound in the headphones is being used at a pleasant and comfortable level that relaxes you, and never mask out the environmental sound.
Noise cancelation splits into two types:
Passive headphones use well designed earcups to block the sound simply by covering the outer ear and reducing the amount of sound that enters the ear canal.
While Active is a feature that uses microphones and speakers to pick the background/environment sound and cut it off.
Things to avoid if you have Tinnitus
Do not listen to high volumes
Always pay attention to what level of volume you are listening to, a loud volume will aggravate tinnitus even more. We all know that volume is measured in decibels (dB). The higher the dB value is the louder the sound they provide is.
Say no to IEMs, earbuds, and earphones:
In ear monitors (IEMS), or earphones, earbuds sit directly in your ear canal. The sound energy is directly transmitted to your eardrum, which can be irritating or even harmful for people that suffer from tinnitus, worse from hear loss. On ear, open-back headphones are ideal for tinnitus.
Don’t get me wrong hearing protection is not a bad thing, but if you wear it during quiet times or normal conversations it creates a version of mild hearing loss. This will make the brain work harder and confused when bringing the sound in, in doing so, it irritates the tinnitus and it will sound worse or louder.
You should reserve it for truly harmful noise levels like sports, concerts, lawn work, power tools with heavy sounds in general.
I can confidently say that you can use headphones if you have tinnitus, but the type of headphones highly matters.
Some people even find the headphones quite useful in distracting them from the unceasing sound in their ears. And a pair of headphones that have a warm sound reward the best in that aspect. It emphasizes the lower register, giving a more relaxed and immersive sound.
Bright headphones give harsh high notes that can irritate tinnitus.
I really hope I helped you guys even a little bit, with my article regarding the best headphones for tinnitus.
Again please take care of your ears and the volume level on headphones.