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As you say people can lose hearing without tinnitus. Having mild tinnitus myself and looked up how the hearing system works, I think the lead suspect must be the gizmo that converts the mechanical movement of sound waves into the ion level changes of neural impulses. It looks a bit like a tube that is opened or closed a little by movement of the hair attached to it, letting K+ ions through the hole or not. Damage to that could let ions go through when there is no actual movement of the hair.

It's kind of remarkable the things work as well as they do given the difference between 0db where you can just hear and 110db or so where it breaks is a 300,000x or so difference in amplitude.

(diagram of movement to ion flow gizmo close up https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Schematic-Diagram-of-Ste... zoomed out a bit https://jcs.biologists.org/content/joces/126/8/1721/F1.large...)

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