Can you hear a faint "background" ringing or hissing in your ears when it is dead quiet?

Can you hear a faint "background" ringing or hissing in your ears when it is dead quiet?
I don't hear any noise when it is quiet
14% (71 votes)
I hear a very slight noise
60% (300 votes)
I hear a bothersome noise
25% (126 votes)
Total votes: 497

Reader BeeJay DeeJay would like to know if readers can hear a faint "background" ringing or hissing in their ears when it is dead quiet? If so, what is the extent of that hiss or noise, and is it bothersome when listening?

Albert's picture

That sound is the sound the blood vessels inside your ears. That sound is always there. You only become aware of it when there isn't external noise to drown it out.

jamesanubis's picture

Years of working as a DJ, driving with the window open on the highway, and a few rock concerts will do that.

James C.  Morrison's picture

I don't recall having heard this before going to concerts by the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, so I notice it only in dead quiet.

James's picture

I have some distinct ringing in a quiet room. I keep the volume at reasonable levels particularly with the kids around. I still test well for my age group but some damage has been done. The unfortunate side affect of working on jet aircraft even after using plugs and head sets together. Plus, some medicine I take agrivate it too.

fred k's picture

This was caused by coming too close to a tractor muffler. I have been suffering a high-pitched noise on a constant basis for 12 years.

pathfinder-tts's picture

It appears that audiophiles have more incidence of tinnitus and some hearing loss compared to the general population. This anecdotal but loud noise is found to cause hearing loss. This can be total and in others at certain frequencies. Only specialised testing can detect this condition. Tinnitus affects non audiophiles too, old age is thought to be one of the causes as well as those whose occupation exposes them to high decibel noise. Always remember rule one that as audiophiles, the single most important "components" are the ears. The hi-fi chain is the "give" and the ears are the "take." As a precaution, take care of the precious ears. We cannot sell, trade-in, or upgrade once these are not optimal or malfunction. Watch that volume control!

Lellis's picture

It varies a lot, depending on how I am, what I had at lunch, if I drank the other night or not, if I've smoked a lot, etc. So I don't bother too much, but for a few times it's very annoying.

Mark's picture

I hear a rather loud ringing. I am a pianist. I spent about 10 years in orchestra pits for Broadway musicals, where the piano was often right next to the drums.

Mark G.'s picture

I hear a high pitched ringing in my ears all the time. Most of the time I don't notice it, and it doesn't seem to affect my listening to music. Even the really low volume classical stuff. When I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, then it really get's annoying!

Jeff's picture

Left ear only, bothersome when it's quiet, often don't notice it, or forget it's there.

Ron Ramsey's picture

I have a constant high pitched tone. 9,000 Hz. Had it tested at UCSF Med Center, in 1987. Talked to the department staff doctor, the world's foremost specialist on tinnitus. He said: "You have tinnitus. There's nothing I can do about it. Maybe it will go away." He guessed it was caused by too many airline flights the previous year. Gave me a pamphlet. Written by the world's foremost specialist on tinnitus. I never payed the bill. Years later a mystically-inclined woman in Santa Fe told me: "It's because you're not listening to your 'inner voice.'" I still have the ringing. Sometimes it gets so loud I worry I can't hear my inner voice.

what?'s picture

I have a constant ringing in my left ear that I attribute to my buddy's squeezing off a round from his .357 magnum before I had my ear protection on—30 years ago. I was standing about three feet to his right. My ear felt as though it had cotton in it for three days. The ringing I hear is pretty low in level and generally does not interfere with my enjoyment of music. At least not yet. I do also have sporadic ringing at higher levels and at different frequencies. So far these are fairly infrequent.

Mike in Manhattan's picture

It's called tinnitus. According to my ENT doctor, it was caused by exposure to loud noise when I was in my late teens and twenties.

JR's picture

I have tinnitus. It comes and goes. Definately affected by loud listening sessions. I've gotten used to it. I balance my need for my listening sessions against the slight annoyance of the ringing—the listening sessions win.

D.  Howard's picture

I remember noticing it just in the past few years. I had an audiologist test them last year with fine results. Darn irritating!

Pedro H.  López's picture

Is there any help?

Paolo Cocco's picture

I hear a 15kHz tone, it's my internal HD. Yeah, I am an audiophile classic.

Monty's picture

I can even change the pitch of the ringing with my jaws. It's not bothersome to me and I have to try to hear it even when it's quiet or I won't even be aware of it.

Anonymous's picture

I have been to the doctor for hearing tests. Not only do I have tinnitus in the 8kHz range but I have depressed recognition of frequencies above 3kHz. Pretty depressing for me. I do not know whether it is worthwhile for me to tweak my system any more.

Noah Bickart's picture

I had tinnitus recently, seeminly as a result of nasal polyps. It is getting better, though.

Aden's picture

I hear some noise, but I guess I'm not in dead-quite places long enough for it to become bothersome.

Ryan's picture

It varies from day to day, even hour to hour, and with even a little noise I can drown it out, but it's a combination of a very low hiss and a light ringing. Not caused by loud live music, because I can distinctly recall the ringing (which has never changed in tone) since before I had any interest in concerts.

JL's picture

Live concerts have damaged my hearing.

DKG's picture

I have been diagnosed with Tinnitus in the left ear. Been around jet engines too long!

Ryan's picture

I have moderately severe tinnitus. It is ever present and interferes with the enjoyment of listening to music critically.

Dave H.'s picture

I have a tinnitus diagnosis. There are a lot worse aflications you can have, but for a hard-core audiophile it's a tough one.

Dave's picture

It didn't bother me until you brought the subject up.