The AudioNotch Tinnitus Treatment Blog

The Definitive Guide To Detecting Your Tinnitus Frequency

Written by AudioNotch Team on September 01, 2019

Detecting your tinnitus frequency isn’t easy. Data shows that about fifty percent of users will be able to consistently and reliably identify a tinnitus frequency that matches their own. This process is called “pitch-masking,” “frequency-matching,” or “tinnitus tuning” (all of these terms are interchangeable). The process consists of matching a computer-generated artificial tinnitus tone with the tinnitus tone that you can hear inside of your head. Our tinnitus tuner is free of charge, and can be accessed at this link. It’s also a necessary component of our therapeutic program (since we “notch” the audio at your tinnitus frequency, and target the malfunctioning neurons by doing so).

Our free tinnitus tuner. It’s also Step 1 of our therapy process.

We’ve made a video that walks you through, step-by-step, the various steps you need to take in order to detect your tinnitus frequency. Click on the video below, and make sure you “full screen” the video while you are playing it. In it, we explain the various features of our tinnitus tuner.

Now, how about some of the common questions we get about this? We often get e-mails on the following topics:

Do I need to perfectly match my frequency?

No. You do not need to have a perfect match. Assuming you have “pure tone” tinnitus (which sounds like a pure sine wave, or a clean whistling or humming sound), then as long as your “match” falls within the “notch” you’ll be okay. Here is a technical explanation of the margin for error:

The notch width is actually based on the average frequency selectivity of a person, and istwo equivalent rectangular bandwidths (ERB). The ERB is dependent on frequency, so if your tinnitus frequency is 10,000 Hz (10 kHz), the ERB is about 1000 Hz, which means you’d have to get within a 1000Hz of your true tinnitus frequency (ERB = 107.94*f +24.7 = 107.94*10 + 24.7 = 1104 Hz). Many people notice a (small) immediate drop in the volume of their tinnitus upon listening to white noise for 2 minutes when the therapy has been correctly tuned. I would recommend registering for the trial and seeing if this works for you, using the white noise player (which can be set to repeat) on the listen page.

Below is a visual representation: as long as your tinnitus tone falls within the “notch,” you’re okay – and the notch has a specific width.

The margin for error in tuning is two ERBs.

The margin for error in tuning is two ERBs.

What’s this about “octave confusion” that the video mentions?

Once you believe you have found your frequency, due to a phenomenon known as “octave confusion” it’s possible that you have not actually found the correct frequency and instead mixed it up.

To check this, simply take the number you have, and listen at HALF that frequency. Also listen at DOUBLE that frequency. You now have three tones for comparison. Pick the one that matches the best among the three.

In summary:

  1. Find your frequency F, which you believe to be your tinnitus tone.
  2. Compare F to 1/2F
  3. Compare F to 2F

Pick the closest match among options 1-3, and you’ll have checked to make sure you didn’t experience “octave confusion,” which could accidentally lead to an incorrect frequency match.

What if my tinnitus tone sounds different than the regular “pure-tone” wave?

If you use Google Chrome, the browser will support the selection of different tinnitus tones. Pick the tone that best matches your tinnitus tone’s character, and then proceed to the regular frequency matching process. A visual representation is below:

You can select from different types of tinnitus tones.

Okay. So you can select different types of tinnitus tones. Unfortunately, mine sounds different than the ones listed. What should I do?

The reason we can’t add more tinnitus tones (like atypical tones that sound like “sparking electricity” or “whooshing”) is because these sounds are too “broad” on the frequency spectrum to fit “within” the confines of the notch (which is necessary in principle for the therapy to work). If you click here, you can listen to other atypical tinnitus sounds. However, some of these have very broad frequency distributions and are effectively un-notchable from a therapeutic point of view. What if I have multiple tinnitus tones? If you have multiple tinnitus tones, you can match them as needed. However, our therapy was only designed to treat one tinnitus tone at a time. Thus, we cannot claim that multiple tones are treatable based on the evidence we have. If you want, it’s possible to make a track with multiple notches. Let’s say you have two tinnitus tones t1 and t2 at two different frequencies, f1 and f2. To create a Notched Sound Therapy file with multiple notches:

  1. Notch White Noise at the first frequency, f1.
  2. Download the MP3 format file of “White Noise – Notched at f1.”
  3. Upload the file from step (2) as a “song.”
  4. Notch the song at f2 to create a second notch at f2. Now the file is notched at f1 and f2.
  5. Repeat as necessary for additional tinnitus frequencies f3, f4, etc…

I would counsel against doing this for tones that are too close together. If you have two tones very close in frequency, they may fall under the same notch width, so you wouldn’t want to do two notches there.

I want someone to help me. How can I have this done?

AudioNotch’s on-line tuner is based on data that suggests that on-line pitch matching provides comparable results to audiology clinic based pitched matching. However, some people want an audiologist to walk them through the process. In order to do this, contact your local audiologists and ask them if they perform tinnitus pitch matching. They will charge a fee for this. They typically follow simple binary search algorithms that are comparable in efficacy to our manual on-line tuner. We do not have a list of partnering audiologists available at this time, but you don’t need this service performed by one of our partners – as long as they have a staff member trained in this and with the right equipment, anyone can do this. For example, clinics offering Neuromonics employ this technique to determine the tinnitus frequency of their clients. As such, you may be able to acquire this service as a “one-off” purchase. It’s also a good idea to get an audiogram to make sure you don’t have greater than moderate hearing loss, which precludes our therapy from working. Once you have the frequency matched by the audiologist, you can manually enter it into our program, as below:

Once an audiologist manually determines your tinnitus frequency, you can manually enter it into this box and make your therapy as needed

Tinnitus tuning is difficult, but with the right knowledge and approach, you can get it done. Good luck!