Tinnitus and the mute button

After more than a decade requesting the feature it was great to see a mute button finally added to the Apple Remote a few years ago. However I have discovered that fully muting sound is not good for people who suffer from tinnitus (about 20% of older people). Fully muting audio can bring on severe tinnitus for some people, particularly if they have partial hearing loss.
One solution is to give people the option to reduce the sound level to a user-selected level rather than zero under the Apple TV settings. The mute button would then toggle the sound level between normal and reduced values.
Another option would be to play alternative/background sounds (such as ocean waves) instead of muting the audio. The latest Airpod Pros have this feature, as well as some hearing aids.
(I have submitted this to Product Feedback - Apple but decided to post it here so others can consider giving similar feedback)
Tinnitus - Wikipedia


How much of a problem is this, in practice?

I’m not questioning your statement about how silence can bring on tinnitus, but how often does muting video result in a silent room?

At my home, I usually mute the TV only when there is some other sound present that I want to focus my attention on (e.g. a conversation with someone or a sound I heard from outdoors or another room). It’s very rare in my experience that muting the TV results in a silent room.

That having been said, this may be beyond Apple’s control. On my setup, the mute button on the remote sends a mute command over the HDMI/CEC channel to my amplifier, which activates its own mute feature. And in another room, where the equipment is a bit older, the remote’s mute button sends a mute command to the TV via infrared.

I actually don’t know what an Apple TV does with that mute button if CEC-mute isn’t available and the remote isn’t programmed to to send it anywhere. I had assumed that it would end up doing nothing (much like how the volume buttons won’t work if CEC is off and the remote isn’t configured for anything), but maybe I’ve been assuming incorrectly?

Several people who are close to me experience annoying tinnitus if they are, say, watching live TV and another person mutes the ads (which tend to be louder than the program). This made me think of partial muting.

Based on the Wikipedia article I would guess that 1 in 10 adults would appreciate not fully muting the sound in these circumstances.

As far as technology goes, I was only thinking about my set-up with an Apple TV and stereo Homepods.

I will test the idea by creating Homekit scenes where I ask Siri to “shush” and then, maybe “unshush”.
Update: that worked except that there is no way to return to the original volume as, with Homekit, I cannot save the volume as a variable to use later.

Some audio equipment such as some A/V receivers or separate preamplifiers offer what is essentially a selectable mute, usually labelled as “mute” for turning sound fully off, and “dim” for reducing sound levels by half or more–this might be helpful.

I have Tinnitus that can drive me nuts at times, but don’t have this particular problem. I regularly pause the TV during ad-breaks as they are annoying enough, I’d rather listen to general city background noises.

However, Tinnitus comes in a great many forms for different people, so I can see a select group who this may appeal to, though likely a relatively small one.

As others have said, I’m guessing that the way the current tech works is the limiting factor, rather than anything else. But good luck on those tests which may reveal some interesting things.