British Tinnitus Association

Tinnitus masker

Hi everyone, I have been struggling with tinnitus for the past six months. I have decided to buy the Puretone MM6 Sound generators. I just can't get on with them. I find the tube that goes into my ear uncomfortable, also the minute I start talking the tube moves which then constantly changes the volume of the white noise which is just annoying as the tinnitus. They cost me £500, and I am not happy with them at all. Could anyone please recommend decent tinnitus maskers? Many thanks Daniela

8 Replies

Hi Daniela,

White noise generators are specialist devices that must be used correctly and under the guidance of a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist trained in tinnitus management. If they are not used correctly they can make tinnitus worse. Their volume should be set slightly lower than the tinnitus and should not mask it or cover up the tinnitus so that it can’t be heard. The reason is this: The brain cannot habituate to tinnitus if it can’t hear it. Please read my post below which is in this forum, by pasting the link into your web browser:

I have worn white noise generators for many years and have written quite a lot about them on other tinnitus forums.

If you live in the UK, then white noise generators are usually supplied free of charge via ENT/hearing therapist, once your auditory system has been tested for suitability - and if they believe you might benefit using them. I know the MM6 that you have but have never used them. I have used the in-ear that are bullet shaped and discreet. I bought them privately and currently use digital BTE (behind the ear) white noise generators supplied by the NHS and find both types quite comfortable to wear.

From your post I gather that you haven’t had tinnitus long? Have you been seen at ENT and been referred to a Hearing Therapist for tinnitus management? White noise generators should really be used as part of TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) which is a long term treatment that requires counselling. Just using white noise generators alone without having proper tinnitus counselling, one is not likely get the full benefit from these devices. This is mentioned in the TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) book written by Professor Pawel Jasterboff and I agree with him.

Please read the post below which you might find helpful. It was written for people new to tinnitus.

New to tinnitus what to do?

The onset of loud intrusive tinnitus can be very traumatic for most people. I use the words loud and intrusive, because tinnitus comes in many forms and intensities. When it is mild, moderate or occasionally heard in quiet surroundings it is usually not too bothersome and a person can go about their daily affairs quite happily and unperturbed by this anomaly. This type of tinnitus usually comes on gradually and in some cases it’s associated with hearing loss, as we get older and the usual treatment is the wearing of hearing aid/s.

Tinnitus can be caused by other things: an underlying medical problem, build up of ear wax (cerumen). Jaw problems. Some medications and even irregular blood flow through the body causing Pulsatile tinnitus.

The most common cause is exposure to loud noise or music that has been played at high levels causing some damage to the cochlear in the inner ear. This type of tinnitus can be loud, intrusive and very debilitating. Often leaving a person at a loss and not knowing which way to turn to escape the nightmare that has suddenly come upon them. Your Dr has probably told you, it’s tinnitus and nothing can be done, you’ll just have to learn to live with it.

If you are having difficulty sleeping you might have been advised to try a night time sedation or an ant-depressant to help cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompanies tinnitus. These medications can be helpful especially in the early stages and they don’t have to be taken long term, so it’s something to consider. They can act as a safety net so you don’t become too down. A referral to ENT will usually be recommended. In the mean time try to keep occupied with something you like doing, as it helps to distract the brain from focusing on the tinnitus. Avoiding quiet rooms during the day by playing low level non intrusive music such as classical in the background can be helpful.

At night a sound machine placed by the bedside playing nature sounds or listening to favourite mp3 tracks or Cds are good. Keeping the volume just below the tinnitus is ideal and set to play throughout the night until morning. It takes time to get used to sound therapy so please stay with it. Whilst in a deep sleep it supplies the brain and auditory system with sound enrichment. Over time the tinnitus is pushed further into the background helping to make its perception less noticeable during waking hours. In the early stages of tinnitus, if one chooses not to use sound enrichment sleeping can sometimes be difficult and there’s also the chance of the tinnitus becoming more intrusive as sleeping in a quiet room can allow the brain to increase it’s own background activity.

In doing so it will also increase the tinnitus making it more intrusive during waking hours.

There is a tendency for newbies to try and cure their tinnitus which is quite understandable. There are many remedies, treatments and concoctions out there. Some affordable others quite expensive. I am not adverse to trying to help myself but want to say, there are charlatans and con artists eager to relieve someone in distress of their money so please be careful. Even tried and tested treatments I wouldn’t recommend a person try until they have been seen at ENT. Often a person after been seen at ENT is advised to wait a while. The reason being. Many people habituate to tinnitus within six months sometimes a little longer and it has been known to go away.

The ear is a very delicate organ and many Drs prefer to wait before investigating further and then suggesting a treatment.

If other problems are experienced such as: pain in the ears, deafness, dizziness or balance problems this is of more concern and a person will usually been seen quicker. It is best to have a word with your GP if you’re feeling stressed or depressed in any way, as previously mentioned there are treatments available. Leaving things alone until ENT advise you of the next step is the best thing to do in my opinion.

Don’t try to fix anything or throw large sums of money at treatments that you have no way of knowing whether you’ll get any relief. It is not advisable to listen to audio through headphones even at low volume and keep away from loud sounds. By all means go out but anywhere that plays loud music then wear noise reducing earplugs. Take things slowly and one day at a time.



Hi Michael - thanks for your offer of support for Daniela, but the old rules of the forum apply to this one too - no sharing of email addresses or phone numbers please. Can you amend or delete your post? Thank you!


No problem Nic I have deleted my email address and thanks for reminding me. Sometimes I forget which forum I'm on!


Hi Daniela - you might find our information on sound therapy useful. You don't need to wear in-ear maskers - environmental sound will do the trick. Maskers is also a slightly misleading term - you are looking not to cover your tinnitus sound, just distract your brain from it.

Anyway, the web page I was referring to is:

Your GP should also be able to refer you into your local audiology or ENT department for free help and support, and free devices if you need them. Might be worth making an appointment.


the nhs do hearing aids with white noise in them as well as being an aid, ive had them for 18 months now and find them helping a bit if anything can help that is!!!!!!!!! ask your audiology dept, about them

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I have hearing aids with noise generators. I believe the sounds change in tone, volume and frequency.

ENT and the audiologist agreed the breakdown I had caused the tinnitus to worsen in my left ear and begin in my right which I never had problems with. I never noticed in my left for years.

The audiologist said I had an overactive nerve in my ear at the time of seeing her some weeks ago before having the generator for my left ear fitted. And as I say the right was mild but gradually got worse, escalating somewhat only in the last few days.

I asked the audiologist about it last week and she said it was common as the noise can travel.

I have not been offered counselling or anything to help me along. I have extreme anxiety at times even though I know the tinnitus cannot harm me and the TRT will help.

I think my anxiety is what makes the tinnitus worse at times. The GP won't prescribe any more for anxiety, my CPN can't offer anything as she isn't trained and even the psychologist I saw wasn't trained to deal with tinnitus in any way.

So I am coping more or less alone. Can I get counselling etc...

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Hi Daniela. I posted a lengthy reply this morning but it seems it didn't go through for some reason. The gist of it was that I had a similar problem with this masker. The tube started irritating my ear making it go red and the end of the tube kept getting blocked against my ear and shutting the sound off. The problem was the masker was incorrectly fitted by my audioligist. She had cut the tube way too short. The masker and tube should curl around the inner helix of your ear with the end of the tube just protruding into your ear canal. There is a good picture of what it should look like on the Puretone website here ...

If you hover your mouse over the pic of the masker it shows the correct fitting into the ear. If your masker doesn't look like this when fitted then you can buy spare tubes and maybe experiment with the length of the tube so that it matches the pic with the end of the tube just going into the ear canal. It's a good idea to have spares anyway as they tend to go hard after a few months and lose their springyness which then makes the masker a less secure fit.



Hi Daniela, I've not read all of the responses to your original post, but I was given 'Propel' white noise maskers by my Audiology experts at Royal Berks in Reading, all free on the NHS. The audiologist I saw last week inferred they ran into the 000's to buy! They were superb and maybe I'm lucky to be under the care of this trust, I can honestly say (with the exception of the first Dr I saw who was useless and thankfully not my regular GP) the care I've had on many levels with the NHS has been tremendous. Good luck! Steve


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