Notched Sound Therapy for Tinnitus Treatment
There are many possible ways to treat tinnitus. Effective sound therapy like pink noise or white noise can significantly reduce the perceived loudness of tinnitus. Notched audio, however, is the next step beyond generic sound therapy and is tailored precisely to an individual's specific tinnitus frequency.
Simply put, notched sound or audio therapy is one type of tinnitus treatment that can reduce the intensity or loudness of tinnitus by listening to special audio tracks on any device whether phone, car stereo, music player, etc
The key change that must be made to the audio track, however, is that the specific tinnitus frequency that is experienced by a given individual must be completely removed from the audio track. By removing this specific sound frequency or "notching" the audio, the tinnitus itself then supplies the missing frequency sound in the audio track. Watch a video on how notched sound therapy works to treat tinnitus.
In the frequency plot spectrogram image shown here, a 5000Hz "notch" was created in this white noise audio file. The purple is sound that is present... but the white "notch" is where sound is absent.
The theory goes that when an individual turns off the notched audio sound, the brain will hear an absence of sound (obviously)... but more importantly may ALSO turn off the tinnitus sound. In practice, the tinnitus sound does not turn off for most, but does reduce in many tinnitus sufferers.
Look towards the bottom for references.
OK! So How Do I Start Notched Sound Therapy???
STEP 1: Determine your tinnitus frequency
Tinnitus matching can be accomplished here. Do NOT move on to step 2 until you have performed this very important step! Record the frequency.
STEP 2: Obtain notched audio sounds
In the table below, pre-made notched white noise can be downloaded for free. Your exact frequency will probably not be present, but round up to the closest frequency available for download. You can also order your own frequency specific notched audio here.
STEP 3: Treatment protocol
The suggested treatment protocol if your tinnitus frequency is 8,000Hz or less is to listen to the notched sound for long periods of time - 5 hours or more at a time. Notched music appears to work as well as notched white noise.
If tinnitus frequency is above 8,000Hz, listen to the notched white noise three times a day, 1 hour each time. Notched music does not appear to work well for tinnitus higher than 8,000Hz. Be aware, there is no research evidence that notched sound therapy works for tinnitus frequencies higher than 13,000Hz.
Sleeping with the notched white noise in either situation works well by additionally providing masking.
Tinnitus relief with notched sound therapy usually takes weeks to months.
Free Notched White Noise
Here are some free to download notched white noise at 500 Hz increments between 1000 - 19,000 Hz. These sound files are saved in FLAC and last about 15 minutes each which can be looped as many times as you want to get the duration you desire (mp3 audio files are not ideal in this situation as frequencies are removed to save space and compress file sizes). The FLAC files are around 75Mb in size so it may take a minute to fully download. Pretty much all modern devices can play FLAC files.
Alternatively, you can quickly listen to notched sounds between 1000Hz to 10,000Hz in this YouTube video where 1 minute notched sample is played at 500Hz intervals.
If you desire notched sound at a different frequency utilizing a different audio sound (pink noise, music, etc), you can order it here. Do keep in mind that different types of sound have theoretical maximum effective frequencies above which making a notched audio file will really make no difference. For example, white noise maximum effective frequency occurs at 20,000Hz. Music occurs @ 8000Hz. Pink Noise @ 12,600Hz. Brown Noise @ 14,400Hz.It is encouraged that if notched music is desired, to perform a sound spectrum analysis first to ensure there is enough sound density in the notched frequency desired. There are a variety of online apps that can do this for you.
If you need notched sound higher than 10,000Hz, click here.
|Notched White Noise (FLAC)|
|YouTube Link||Plot Spectrogram|
|Higher than 10K|
DIY Audio Notching Your Own Sound for Free!
You can also notch your own sound, though it takes a few steps.
Install the band stop filter in Audacity. Once the filter is installed, you can use this filter to completely remove a specific frequency band (use stop-band width of 1 octave).
You can also use Audacity to visually obtain a plot spectrum (analogous terms include sound analyzer, spectrum analysis) to ensure the frequency has been removed from a sound file. A plot spectrum can also be used to determine if any given sound has adequate frequency range for effective audio notching, especially if music is used and the notching frequency desired is higher than 8000 Hz.
For example, this plot spectrum is for the song How Far I'll Go
And this one is for Roar by Katy Perry.
Now compare to white noise plot spectrum. Clearly, the sound density of white noise above 8000 Hz is much better than that found in music.
What About Notching on a Sound Equalizer (EQ)?
All sound produced by a device can be adjusted using a sound equalizer (EQ).
However, bottoming out a frequency on an equalizer is not as good as true audio notching for a few reasons. First, the equalizer can never truly zero out a frequency. The typical maximum sound reduction that can be achieved with a sound equalizer is about -12dB. Second, the equalizer's band width is a bit narrower than the recommended one octave. Finally, only a certain limited number of equalizer frequencies can be manipulated, normally 32Hz, 64Hz, 125Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz, 4000Hz, 8000Hz, and 16,000Hz.
Here is a plot spectrum of white noise without any EQ adjustments nor notching:
Here is one where the EQ was bottomed out at 8ooo Hz:
Compare to formal audio notching at 8000 Hz:
The Windowed Sound Therapy: A New Empirical Approach for an Effective Personalized Treatment of Tinnitus. Int Tinnitus J. 2009;15(1):51-61.
Listening to tailor-made notched music reduces tinnitus loudness and tinnitus-related auditory cortex activity. PNAS. Vol. 107 | No. 3. January 19, 2010
Customized notched music training reduces tinnitus loudness. Communicative & Integrative Biology 3:3, 274-277; May/June 2010
Short and Intense Tailor-Made Notched Music Training against Tinnitus: The Tinnitus Frequency Matters. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24685. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0024685
Clinical trial on tonal tinnitus with tailor-made notched music training. BMC Neurol. 2016; 16: 38.
Counteracting tinnitus by acoustic coordinated reset neuromodulation. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience 30 (2012) 137–159.
Notched Sound Alleviates Tinnitus by Reorganization Emotional Center. Front. Hum. Neurosci., 28 January 2022