What Does Tinnitus Sound Like?

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Tinnitus is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” but it can actually manifest in a variety of different perceived sounds including: ringing, hissing, static, crickets, screeching, whooshing, roaring, pulsing, ocean waves, buzzing, dial tones and even music.

According to the American Tinnitus Association, in almost all cases, tinnitus is a subjective noise, meaning that only the person who has tinnitus can hear it. Objective tinnitus (head or ear noises that other people can hear) occurs in less than 1 percent of cases.

Tinnitus may be perceived as a constant or steady tone or noise. The perceived volume may fluctuate. Tinnitus may be perceived as a pulsing or pulse-synchronous sound. Tinnitus may be perceived as music or singing.

There is some scientific evidence that a patient’s tinnitus perception may be influenced by the underlying cause of their tinnitus. However, current science has not identified a definitive correlation.

Listen to Sample Tinnitus Sounds

The ATA has compiled a playlist of the most common tinnitus sounds, to provide an example of what tinnitus patients hear on an everyday basis. If you have tinnitus, you can use this playlist to find the sound that best matches your own condition. You can also share this resource with your primary care provider, audiologist, family, and friends, so they can get a sense of the noise in your head.

Please Note: This link is from the ATA’s website. Please turn down the volume on your speakers or headphones before playing any of the sound files. The recordings, like tinnitus itself, can be loud and irritating.


If you have tinnitus and need help, the first step is to find an audiologist who specializes in tinnitus diagnosis and management. At Associated Audiologists, we offer a comprehensive tinnitus management program to assist in diagnosing and managing care for individuals who have tinnitus.

The program’s services are provided by Susan Smittkamp, Au.D., Ph.D., tinnitus specialist. Dr. Smittkamp uses the most sophisticated technology available in the greater Kansas City area to diagnose and manage tinnitus.

To learn more about tinnitus, download our free e-book.

Call 913-403-0018 to schedule an appointment with our tinnitus specialist.