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 Post subject: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:23 pm 
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http://www.silentpcreview.com/Electroni ... d_Tinnitus

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:10 pm 
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Hmm. Could explain why when I was younger, there were nights when I couldn't sleep because my heartbeat was too noisy...


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:50 pm 
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I have in fact gotten tinnitus from an 6GB Toshiba Tecra notebook harddrive around 10 years ago. This was my main machine, so I worked with it all day. As the drive bearings aged it began to emit a high frequency sound. It got so bad that I used to put a heavy paper book on the lower notebook area where the drive was housed to dampen the noise. After a while, I noticed that even when the machine was turned off in the evening, the ringing did not subside. I replaced the drive with a quiet Hitachi Travelstar, but I have been living with tinnitus ever since.

I too have an Intel X25-M G2. I had noticed the ringing getting worse lately, but had not made the connection. While I love the speed increase it gave me over a traditional HD, I'll look into replacing that this after having read this article. It would be great if SPCR could do an extensive investigation into this area and recommend SSD's for tinnitus sufferers.

On a side note: I also HATE the Intel Core2 duo. It squeals like mad at times. Can any of the tinnitus sufferers report whether this is also an issue with other Intel mobile lines, Core I5 Mobile in particular. If you do not have tinnitus, please do not respond, as I know the noises we speak of are mostly inaudible to you.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:42 am 
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First off, I completely believe Richard's symptoms. I for one get a splitting headache when in the presence of noise at certain high frequencies, including ones I can't consciously hear or otherwise detect; I only figured this out when the people behind me in an electronics lab in school were fiddling with a simple oscillator hooked up to a speaker... However, I don't quite believe many of the causes he claims in his examples.

Portable phone systems "above 1 GHz" and wireless G networks don't emit sound waves in the course of normal operation - the frequency given for these is a matter of the electromagnetic waves emitted, which no study has shown any human capable of detecting, with the exception of much, much higher frequencies. (Specifically, the infrared and visual ranges!).

Electronic noise, sure - but I can't quite bring myself to blame it on the specific technology involved.

All that is largely irrelevant, though. In reply to the question asked, my answer is: My problem isn't tinnitus, but yes, electronic noise can bother me, sometimes significantly - even if I can't actually hear it directly.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:21 am 
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Hard to do much about it, but I'd be interested to hear stories on how people may have tried to block such "noises" by any means.

I'd guess that even with SSD's it's well worth considering power usage. Less power should mean less stress on components. Low power SSD's need very little in the way of cooling too, which might help some if they need dampening. Laptops of course are never likely to be a good start for hypersensitive computer users.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:07 am 
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Until recently, I had a first-gen X25-M in my notebook (HP/Compaq 6715b). When the fan was off, I could
quite clearly hear the sound of disk accesses. The sound is hard to describe - electronics noise, but different
frequencies. I don't suffer from tinnitus. I found the sound quite distracting. I have (reluctantly) changed to a
Momentus XT because 80GB was no longer enough. The HD is clearly louder when the head moves, but
less unpleasant. (Of course, it's much slower and that's much less pleasant).

I can't be certain that the electronics noise came from the SSD - might have been something else, but the
noise occurred only on heavy disk access and came from the general region of the disk.

Have to add that I'm quite averse to noisy HW in general and am often notice noises my colleagues
in the same office don't even hear (apart from PCs or monitors, fluorescent tubes are often guilty),
but then I assume that's true for many SPCR readers.

- Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:28 am 
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No noticable noise from my SSD (64GB Crucial M225 - Indilinx Barefoot Controller), although I have not tested it up close.

Although a rather interesting point to add, a couple of months ago a water leak was reported in my immediate area, it turned out to be my next door neighbours house, under the kitchen floor, my PC's are in the room adjacent a floor up. when the leak was fixed my PC suddenly became much quieter, but of course it was not my PC at all. That was the point when I discovered a few things. 1) my PC is very very quiet indeed. 2) my Monitor is much louder than my PC, and the tone of the noise changes with brightness (as reported by everyone with this issue), 3) the noise that is currently coming from my PC sounded exactly like the noise that was actually a cause of a water leak, but at a much different noise level.

Thus I concluded that a water leak can sound just like a moderately quiet PC, and adding to that I thought I was having some form of Tinnitus or other related issue, as I could swear that I could still hear my PC when it was switched off, but it was there all of the time. I never noticed it as such before I turned my PC on, then of course 2 of the fans start up at insanely loud spin speeds of 1,200 and 1,000 rpm, and when windows loads speedfan, they drop to half that.

That was the point when I thought it was my PC, did the water leak noise "double" the percieved noise of my PC even though it was nearer 90% of it.? By that I mean that I thought the noise was my PC, and it was not, but I percieved it as a noise from my PC because it sounded the same, and yet I didnt notice the noise before I turned on the PC, and thought it was Tinnitus when I turned my PC off and could still hear it.

Additionally, it is worthe pointing out that my server now also appears to be much quieter (obviously still much louder than my PC), although I would say that the noise caused by the water leak + my PC, is about as loud as my server without the water leak.

Perhaps certain noise sources can trick us more than we realise, especially if we dont know that noise source even exists. Who would have thought that a water leak in my neighbours property could make noises in my house through the pipework to a small degree, and directly through a brick wall 20 feet from the source. People often identify random household electical devices as making noises they cant hear in the same room as the device, but can hear in other rooms, or at the very least dont find it annoying in the same way.

Sounds and how they affect different people in in different ways in different situations is a mind-boggling maze that is exceptionally difficult to get any meaningful answers to. Each person, noise, and situation seems to be different, I honestly feel sorry for anyone with tinnitus or similar conditions.

In the past I found that I was being kept awake by something mosquito like, it turned out to be a mobile phone charger that I could hear, in one ear more than the other, and only from one side of the charger itself, and only when it was NOT charging the phone, that was a simple problem to fix, pull the plug.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:19 am 
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I hear a large amount of electronic noise from my iPod Touch. does anyone else have this problem?


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:32 am 
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Peter.S wrote:
I have in fact gotten tinnitus from an 6GB Toshiba Tecra notebook harddrive around 10 years ago. This was my main machine, so I worked with it all day. As the drive bearings aged it began to emit a high frequency sound. It got so bad that I used to put a heavy paper book on the lower notebook area where the drive was housed to dampen the noise. After a while, I noticed that even when the machine was turned off in the evening, the ringing did not subside. I replaced the drive with a quiet Hitachi Travelstar, but I have been living with tinnitus ever since.

I too have an Intel X25-M G2. I had noticed the ringing getting worse lately, but had not made the connection. While I love the speed increase it gave me over a traditional HD, I'll look into replacing that this after having read this article. It would be great if SPCR could do an extensive investigation into this area and recommend SSD's for tinnitus sufferers.

On a side note: I also HATE the Intel Core2 duo. It squeals like mad at times. Can any of the tinnitus sufferers report whether this is also an issue with other Intel mobile lines, Core I5 Mobile in particular. If you do not have tinnitus, please do not respond, as I know the noises we speak of are mostly inaudible to you.

Is it not possible that the onset of your tinnitus coincided with the Toshiba drive experience -- which may not have been direct cause?

It's hard to figure out a study that would work well enough... but we're definitely very interested in looking deeper into the topic. It may require the active participation of distributed tinnitus afflicted users like yourself. Will keep you posted on further development on this.

Finally, C2D Intel-based notebooks have often been ID's as electronic whine sources for years. There are huge threads in many forums about the problem with Dell C2D laptops. I have a whiner right now, a brand new i3-based model that's getting worse. Even asked the mfg to replace the whole machine.... and I do not generally suffer from tinnitus.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:51 am 
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EPAstor wrote:
First off, I completely believe Richard's symptoms. I for one get a splitting headache when in the presence of noise at certain high frequencies, including ones I can't consciously hear or otherwise detect; I only figured this out when the people behind me in an electronics lab in school were fiddling with a simple oscillator hooked up to a speaker... However, I don't quite believe many of the causes he claims in his examples.

Portable phone systems "above 1 GHz" and wireless G networks don't emit sound waves in the course of normal operation - the frequency given for these is a matter of the electromagnetic waves emitted, which no study has shown any human capable of detecting, with the exception of much, much higher frequencies. (Specifically, the infrared and visual ranges!).

Electronic noise, sure - but I can't quite bring myself to blame it on the specific technology involved.

I probably should have expanded on Richard's comments here. The key is...

1) whether you think he is hearing anything in the audible range -- I think perhaps not. He might still be reacting to them. The absence of a study showing humans capable of detecting RF energy does not rule out the possibility. Did any of those studies use tinnitus-afflicted subjects?
2) whether those mobile phones also emit energy in the audible frequencies -- a very real possibility.

One of the external articles linked at the end of my piece describes fascinating new findings in tinnitus research.
http://discovermagazine.com/2010/oct/26 ... uch-deeper
It's less about ringing in the ear, rather it's in the brain, and it diminished when scientists "edited recordings of music, filtering out the frequencies of the ringing in their patients, who then listened to the filtered music an average of 12 hours per week. Pantev and his collaborators found that their patients’ tinnitus significantly eased. They also found that the neurons tuned to the tinnitus frequency in the auditory cortex became less active."

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:07 am 
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I suffer from what I believe is tinnitus, off and on. I first remember noticing it when I had an IBM Deathstar HDD. I could still "hear" ringing after the hardware was off, especially when my surroundings were very quiet.

Most computer hardware I've worked with since then has been OK, though, about triggering my symptoms. Seagate Barracuda and later HDDs that I've had were much better. I do not have an SSD, yet, so I can't comment on those. As far as other electronic noise goes, I notice, on some laptops, a high (variable) pitched noise when transferring files over ethernet. I also notice the whine of Core 2 Duo CPUs, but I've been able to reduce it by disabling C4 mode at the BIOS level.

I don't know if this is tinnitus related, but I can hear CRT TVs when they're on (supposedly the 16hz whine). Computer CRT monitors never seemed to bother me, nor did small TVs (e.g., 13 inch). Larger TVs (e.g., 19 inch and larger) were always noticeable. Also, the brighter the picture (especially white backgrounds) seemed to make the whine louder. At home, I ended up lining the TV enclosure of my entertainment center with acoustic foam, which helped quite a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:30 am 
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Mike
Thanks for the most thorough and enlightened posting on this issue. It's been very helpful and informative communicating with you on the problems of electronic noise and receiving your analysis and feedback. With the recent upsurge in numbers of tinnitus sufferers as returning military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is fortunately more research dollars being directed toward this problem. But it's been such an enigma to the medical community that determining the root cause of the problem and finding a solution has eluded efforts to date.

What I believe the research needs is a more expansive investigation that includes the expertise of those in the electronics industry, such as yourself, to explore the areas you mention in your article. While the industry may be resistive to such probing, due to the ever present concern for negative publicity and legal liability attaching to their products, ultimately I'd hope it would be in everyone's best interest to determine the source and impact of electronic signals that may be negatively affecting our health.

Thanks again for the article and for the ongoing communication!

Richard


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:14 am 
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I'm always a little cautious about things which haven't made it past the subjective experience category. Fortunately, if these devices are making noise, no hardware review site is better suited to detect them then SPCR. :) Why not put the drives in the anechoic chamber, set the microphones up without the A-weighting in place and see what's what? Compare the noisy G2 to a quiet G1, or a Barracuda V if you still have one, and see if it's making noises that don't show in the normal A-weighted tests.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:40 pm 
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Mr. Perfect wrote:
I'm always a little cautious about things which haven't made it past the subjective experience category. Fortunately, if these devices are making noise, no hardware review site is better suited to detect them then SPCR. :) Why not put the drives in the anechoic chamber, set the microphones up without the A-weighting in place and see what's what? Compare the noisy G2 to a quiet G1, or a Barracuda V if you still have one, and see if it's making noises that don't show in the normal A-weighted tests.

Well, that's a start, but not quite enough. First, we have to identify the devices that tinnitus afflicted folks can clearly identify as being triggers for them, then compare them against those which are not -- both subjectively and then using instrumentation in the chamber. We might also need testing done in a RF EMI anechoic chamber if the two groups of devices (trigger vs non-trigger) don't exhibit any audio freq differences.

What makes this kind of research complex is that -- according to the little reading I have done over the past few days -- the triggers for tinnitus sufferers vary quite a lot, so it may be difficult to isolate devices into good/bad -- rather, they might fall in a bell curve where some devices affect 80%, others only 20%, etc. Then the really complicated part is how manufacturers could use this research to make devices that are less bothersome for tinnitus sufferers (or less likely to produce tinnitus).

But I'm glad to see the high level of interest -- and a bit surprised at the number of responders here who appear to have some tinnitus symptoms.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:52 pm 
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I've got tinnitus, and since you ask...

  • I've written on the forums about the inverter noise my monitor made (Benq G2400W), I can't use certain brightness levels or I get annoyed and uncomfortable. Does not make my tinnitus worse however.
  • My old Logitech MX518 had an audible whine to it. I had heard the noise, and it made it hard for me to fully concentrate, but I couldn't identify the source until someone on the forums pointed the mouse out as a possible culprit. No tinnitus effect.
  • Asus 5770 had whining issues, swapped it for a Gainward 460. Gainward 460 has power whine, can't play games above certain FPS or concentration is ruined. Doesn't affect my tinnitus.

It seems my tinnitus is unaffected by electrical whining (does not bring it out), but I can certainly pick it up very easily. If I do, it affects my concentration or even physical well-being (I feel uncomfortable, even slight nausea). I have to turn off the NAS at night for the same reason, my ears pick up the 40mm fan and I can't relax. Funnily enough the four-lane expressway doesn't bother me in the slightest, so it's either a matter of volume, character or frequency, not just sound sensitivity in general.

I'll sign the speculation about a subconscious effect, and I'm thankful I'm nowhere near as sensitive as Richard.

PS. My tinnitus is the constant kind (doesn't come and go or fluctuate much) and mainly affected by stress levels (body tension). It was initially triggered by physical damage (verified hearing damage).

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:48 am 
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Certain speadsheets make my monitor (Samsung SM245B) squeal somewhere around the upper limit of my hearing. I think it's caused by many lines on screen at once and makes working quite annoying so I always have to have some music on so that I can concentrate better when doing spreadsheets.

There seems to be a certain amount of doubt of the cause and how much is subconscious. Would it be possible to do some kind of blindfolded test with an anecoic chamber, a tinitus sufferer and a set of different devices? The results would differ per person but it would give some idea of the sensitivity involved.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:56 am 
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edh wrote:
Certain speadsheets make my monitor (Samsung SM245B) squeal somewhere around the upper limit of my hearing. I think it's caused by many lines on screen at once and makes working quite annoying so I always have to have some music on so that I can concentrate better when doing spreadsheets.


Does it keep whining when the spreadsheet is still, i.e. you're not scrolling? I've never heard of this until now.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 3:21 am 
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Yes, me too.

I have the 3Khz or so ringing, but it's not too oppressive. It IS however mostly caused when I sit at the PCs for longish times, but goes away overnight.
It's also quite recent (last 3 years or so). Age related ? PC usage related ?

I can also hear a lot of high pitched buzzing from transformers and the like. Current worst culprit - HP Scanjet 4850, but the Samsung SyncMaster 940BW has also got worse.

I did notice a lot of electrical squeal from an Mtron SSD but haven't found the same from the Samsung SSDs I'm currently using. However, they might be aggravating the 3khz effect without my knowing. Interesting to hear about the Intel situation - I was going to replace the Samsungs with Intels, but now I'll wait.

Perhaps another factor is that all my drives used to be in quiet boxes (GrowUpJapan and Scythe) but the newer SSDs are just lying about in the cases with no thought to how they are supported.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 3:52 am 
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Das_Saunamies wrote:
Does it keep whining when the spreadsheet is still, i.e. you're not scrolling? I've never heard of this until now.

The noise is there without scrolling. Scrolling changes the noise but olnly because different areas of the spreadsheet make the monitor make different noises. It is definitely the monitor, not the graphics card as switching the monitor off stops the noise.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:01 am 
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MikeC wrote:
One of the external articles linked at the end of my piece describes fascinating new findings in tinnitus research.
http://discovermagazine.com/2010/oct/26 ... uch-deeper
It's less about ringing in the ear, rather it's in the brain, and it diminished when scientists "edited recordings of music, filtering out the frequencies of the ringing in their patients, who then listened to the filtered music an average of 12 hours per week. Pantev and his collaborators found that their patients’ tinnitus significantly eased. They also found that the neurons tuned to the tinnitus frequency in the auditory cortex became less active."

I've been "medicating" my mild tinnitus with music for while but I need to be choosy about the music (and to a lesser extent, about music-listening gear). Otherwise I can get irritated and have cravings for silence even when the music successfully masks the tinnitus. Persisting in spite of this irritation may lead to unusally strong (for me) tinnitus symptoms.
I believe some audiophiles who like low-fidelity gear (technically, not marketed as such) are sometimes selecting components that de-emphasize frequencies (or even other characteristics of sound) that strain their nervous system. The symptoms might not manifest as tinnitus. I have no evidence to corroborate this pet theory of mine. It's only based on my experience and the subjective reports of a few picky listeners.
With hearing, a lot happens under the threshold of perception. People also often hear things that aren't there. As others of said, it's complicated.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 8:58 pm 
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Richard's story is interesting, but confusing also. He claims to be bothered by 'noises' in the RF spectrum which just isn't possible, however most modern electronic gear has ceramic capacitors and ceramic capacitors have piezo-electric effect. These capacitors will make noise if the voltage applied to them varies at an audio frequency. Conversely, you can tap a ceramic capacitor and see the voltage spike with a scope. Many switching power supplies switch at audio frequencies, or sometimes two higher inaudible frequencies can mix and the difference frequency can be audible via a ceramic cap.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:16 pm 
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First off, an apology for what I know is going to be a somewhat rambling post as I want to bring up several points but don't know how to organize my ideas. All points are about hearing but I'm not sure what is or isn't related to each other.

I have tinnitus; I don't remember how long I've had it (I'm in my 50s and can't remember when I didn't have it) nor do I know what caused it. As far as I know, mine is constant and is a hissing/white noise type of sound. It is masked somewhat by ambient noise and hence is most troublesome when it is quiet, such as at night when trying to go to sleep.

I also have very sensitive hearing in some respects. As someone else mentioned above, I can hear, or be aware of even if not conscious of hearing, certain high frequencies that cause pain in my ears. Various TVs and CRT monitors emit a high-pitched whine that I can hear that others around me couldn't. Loud sound makes me very uncomfortable; I have to wear ear plugs when using any sort of noisy equipment like lawn mowers or usually even a hand drill. When I was younger and occasionally attended music concerts, I always wore ear plugs and it was always still too loud for me.

CD players, especially the early ones, caused me to get headaches. I could never identify this in any audible way though always thought perhaps it was due to the "brick wall" filters used since later players with different filtering were a little better. I actually wonder if this is more of a reaction like Richards--one to something that may be outside what's actually audible, as besides getting a headache after just a few minutes, I could enter a room where a CD was playing and immediately feel uncomfortable, like ther was "bad air" in the room.

Richard mentioned 7200 RPM hard drives being intolerable for him. They've always been for me as well. Of course I haven't tried every drive made as I couldn't afford the expense of buying them all especially knowing the likelyhood I wouldn't be able to use them. However, years ago I had a Barracuda IV based on the reviews here and elsewhere about it being one of the quietest drives at the time. For me it made the same intolerable whine as all others I had tried. More recently I tried a Samsung F1 320GB as those have generally been regarded as quiet, and had to sell it as well.

I know the above issue for me has to do with the specific frequency made by a 7200 RPM drive. I know this because the machine I'm typing on right now has a now-old Seagate 15K.3 SCSI drive in it--that's right, a 15,000RPM drive. I can hear it spin up, but once it's at speed I can't hear any whine from it. Unfortunately for me I haven't found newer 15K drives to have the same characterisitic and the others of those I've tried tend to drive me crazy too. Until drives started getting the fluid bearing dynamic (FDB) motors, I never found any drive I could tolerate. Decoupling doesn't help as the sound I hear is emanating directly from the drives.

I find this site useful because it covers these topics that no one else does, but my PCs wouldn't please most people here as they are definitely not quiet. I intentionally have fans that run fast enough that the machines make a low level fan air noise, which helps mask other high frequency things that tend to bother me, and helps mask my tinnitus. I consider them quiet, but I know they're nowhere near "SPCR quiet."

Anyway, I don't know if any of that is useful information but there it is.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:30 am 
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confusion wrote:
Various TVs and CRT monitors emit a high-pitched whine that I can hear that others around me couldn't.


I just have to comment on this: I share a flat, and the flatmate's old CRT TV makes a loud whine in standby mode. They don't seem bothered, and I'm not convinced they don't have some serious hearing damage, but it makes my head hurt. I convinced them to turn the power off completely when they're not watching it, but the only way I got the lesson to stick was by telling them it's a fire hazard - which it no doubt is at this point. :lol:

There has also been some device in the past, another old TV I think, that had such a terrible, piercing whine that I found it hard to breathe in the same room; the "bad air" effect sort of, but more like a physical seizing of function.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:39 pm 
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Interesting topic.

This kind of idiosyncratic response to certain electronic noise seems somewhat similar to how migraine sufferers describe their experiences with regard to visual or air pressure stimuli. There is often no obvious or consistent source, (although a confluence of conditions can usually be identified) and once triggered, the symptoms often persist long past initial exposure.

It's interesting that Richard does not report symptoms with the Intel G1, leading me to speculate about what differences there might be between the G1 and G2 models vis a vis controllers or other possible flash circuitry. I have the Intel G2 and don't hear anything. There is only a very slight, high pitched electronic 'zing' when I start up my computer. But it is extremely faint and at the outermost margins of my awareness. I wonder if Richard could be hearing something that the Intel G2 is interacting with, rather than the SSD itself?


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:22 pm 
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As I mentioned in my little piece, I've had short bouts of tinnitus in the past, mostly when I was overworking, OD'ing on SPCR! :lol:

The main symptom was a sharp tone in the 3~5kHz range, more of less constant, at a level that was low enough to be masked by any "normal" ambient background noise when a few people mingle, a TV or music is on, but constantly audible in my quiet office. I took to leaving a couple 120mm fans or small room fan on to mask the effect. I never did try to determine the precise tone. I should try next time (if there is one) -- could be done just running test tones from a signal generator and finding a match for the inner noise. It got worse when I was subject to loud noise. I don't recall how long it lasted -- maybe a few weeks -- but eventually it went away on its own. Maybe I just stayed away from the computer long enough, did healthier things for a while, and my body/mind recovered.

Having experienced tinnitus in the past, I sometimes get a little paranoid about faint high pitched noises.

There is a fellow somewhere in the neighborhood who uses a power tool of some kind outdoors once in a while. I am not sure what or where or how far away it is -- could be several hundred feet/yards -- and by the time it gets to my office, it's not very loud. With windows open, I can identify that it's "that machine", and it's not really that bothersome, except when I want to do sound testing -- and the anechoic chamber is good enough to block this noise. But in colder weather with windows closed, that same tool has a very different sonic character when it reaches me in my office: It's a faint pure tone in that 3~5kHz range. I've been fooled quite a few times into thinking one of the many electronic devices close to me (including CFL bulbs in the room) has developed a whine... or that the tinnitus has come back. It's not until I open the door to the outside and hear the rest of the sound from that tool that I can hear it for what it is -- it is nothing like a pure tone when not blocked by the walls and closed windows.

This is the reality of noise damping: Most noise-blocking materials are not linear in their effect and most noises are also not broadband, there tends to be peaks. When you block out most of the noise from a machine, there might only be the faint trace of a tonal sound, just the top of the peak(s) that is left. Which is why sometimes, in a very quiet computer, it's better to leave a little bit of broadband noise from a fan or two. Otherwise you might be plagued by that little remaining tonal sound that can drive you around the bend.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:54 am 
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I'm also plagued by tinnitus. For me it's a nearly constant very high pitched tone (or squeal) that's often weak enough to be ignored.

I've never noticed any problems with other high pitched tones, but rather when exposed to some lower pitched noise.
Case in point was a camping holiday with my parents several years ago. Travelling by car and caravan at a constant speed of about 70 kph made a normally benign concerto of low pitched engine and road noise turn my tinnitus into high gear. Slight changes in car speed was sufficient to turn the effect down a notch or three, but the desired travel speed made my tinnitus the most dominating sound in the head.

I can't say I've noticed any computer induced trigging of my tinnitus.

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Olle


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:12 am 
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Since tinnitus is a noise one hears when there is a lack of actual sound, couldn't Richard's problem with SSDs and 3G be be psychosomatic? As in, worry about a new gadget causing the tinnitus to get worse having a real effect. This should be easily testable with a blind test.

I'm not meaning to say "It's all in your head, man up". It's just that if it's actually caused by lack of sound + expectation of sound, finding that out would make it easier to concentrate on things like masking the noise instead of fruitlessly trying to silence sounds that aren't there.

My mother is "electrosensitive" and also says 3G is worse than 2G, my phone disturbs her even when it's turned off etc. Apologies if this makes me think something's psychosomatic when it's not; the sensitivity to things no human should be able to perceive just makes me sceptic.


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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:23 am 
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Sunrise wrote:
My mother is "electrosensitive" and also says 3G is worse than 2G, my phone disturbs her even when it's turned off etc. Apologies if this makes me think something's psychosomatic when it's not; the sensitivity to things no human should be able to perceive just makes me sceptic.


I'm with ya there. So many blind tests for EHS, both for studies and in real life, have shown no actual, consistent link between symptoms and (claimed) source. The sufferers also seem to include high numbers of technophobes, so whatever, some people were convinced cameras stole their souls too.

We don't know everything about human physiology of course, like what all the effects of noise pollution are, but things have to be proven - that's why I asked to be tested.

Speaking of that and the psychosomatic side of tinnitus, I can make mine worse just by concentrating on the sound I "hear" or thinking about it or my hearing in general, so there is definitely a link between my mind and the symptoms. The experts who tested me told me it's exactly what was said: the brain expects to hear something and can't because that area of my ear is effectively dead, then probably overcompensates or mistakes an actual signal for what it's not.

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:45 am 
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Right now, I have a new i3 laptop that makes a tinnitus-like high pitch tone. Usually the sign of bad VRM circuit design or implementation, it's been going on with lots of Intel laptops for some years. (Dells were apparently badly afflicted, iirc). It's made me a bit anxious about having tinnitus again -- I often think I am hearing the damn noise even when I can't possibly do so, like in another room. And it's also true that ringing in the ear, after being quiet and still in an anechoic chamber for a while, happens to a lot of people. (I know from personal experience.) IE, brain cells compensating for absence of stimuli that it expects to receive (because true silence is totally unnatural). So yeah, the relationship between brain and sound perception makes silencing anything at the threshold of hearing quite complex.

The other thing is that in most modern urban homes, it's not easy to get away completely from machine-induced noise. Fridges, deep freezers, CFLs, modems, network boxes, wall-warts, ac/dc adapters, TVs on standby, computers, PVRs, etc -- all of these things can and often do make some kind of noise, some plainly audible, others just at or below the threshold of audibility, and the most common noise is steady-state tonal noise at 50 or 60Hz or harmonic multiples of those, and/or >2kHz. Even if you don't have tinnitus, it's not uncommon to hearing ringing -- because it really is there!

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 Post subject: Re: Electronic Noise and Tinnitus
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:58 am 
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I've got two Intel X-25M G2 160 GB, one at work, one at home. Both cause rather loud electronic whine and "chatter", especially just after either of the computers are started after having been off for several hours (i.e., while the parts are near room temperature).

For quite a while, I thought the whine came from the SSD's, but I've found that it is actually from the power supplies. This is easily verified by putting an ear close to the power supplies. I don't hear anything directly from the SSD.

The SSD's somehow cause the whine in the power supplies, but so does the graphics card (Radeon HD 5870) in my home computer, so the SSD's are not alone to blame in my case.

Both power supplies are from Corsair, for the record.

I don't really buy all parts of the story though. Some of the causes of the tinnitus are hardly believable, and reminds me of people who claim they are "allergic" to electricity in general, but have no solid proof (in fact, they are usually very easily proven wrong). The brain and body is complicated; physical symptoms can be induced merely by stress or belief. I would recommend a couple of proper scientific blind tests to really make sure. I don't doubt the symptoms, they are real, but what if some of the problems are actually caused by psychological stress?

Please note that suggesting psychological stress is not a way of saying "you're a liar, you're faking". I'm actually trying to help.


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