Audio frequency

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Sound measurements
  Sound pressure  p, SPL,LPA
  Particle velocity  v, SVL
  Particle displacement  δ
  Sound intensity  I, SIL
  Sound power  P, SWL, LWA
  Sound energy  W
  Sound energy density  w
  Sound exposure  E, SEL
  Acoustic impedance  Z
  Speed of sound  c
  Audio frequency  AF
  Transmission loss  TL

An audio frequency (abbreviation: AF) or audible frequency is a periodic vibration whose frequency is in the band audible to the average human. The SI unit of audio frequency is the hertz (Hz). It is the property of sound that most determines pitch. [1]

Periodic function function that repeats its values in regular intervals or periods

In mathematics, a periodic function is a function that repeats its values in regular intervals or periods. The most important examples are the trigonometric functions, which repeat over intervals of 2π radians. Periodic functions are used throughout science to describe oscillations, waves, and other phenomena that exhibit periodicity. Any function that is not periodic is called aperiodic.

Vibration mechanical phenomenon whereby oscillations occur about an equilibrium point; precisely used to describe mechanical oscillation

Vibration is a mechanical phenomenon whereby oscillations occur about an equilibrium point. The word comes from Latin vibrationem. The oscillations may be periodic, such as the motion of a pendulum—or random, such as the movement of a tire on a gravel road.

Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. The period is the duration of time of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. For example: if a newborn baby's heart beats at a frequency of 120 times a minute, its period—the time interval between beats—is half a second. Frequency is an important parameter used in science and engineering to specify the rate of oscillatory and vibratory phenomena, such as mechanical vibrations, audio signals (sound), radio waves, and light.


The generally accepted standard range of audible frequencies for humans is 20 to 20,000 Hz, [2] [3] [4] although the range of frequencies individuals hear is greatly influenced by environmental factors. In air at atmospheric pressure, these represent sound waves with wavelengths of 17 meters (56 ft) to 1.7 centimetres (0.67 in). Frequencies below 20 Hz are generally felt rather than heard, assuming the amplitude of the vibration is great enough. High frequencies are the first to be affected by hearing loss due to age or prolonged exposure to very loud noises. [5] [ not in citation given ]

Hearing range describes the range of frequencies that can be heard by humans or other animals, though it can also refer to the range of levels. The human range is commonly given as 20 to 20,000 Hz, although there is considerable variation between individuals, especially at high frequencies, and a gradual loss of sensitivity to higher frequencies with age is considered normal. Sensitivity also varies with frequency, as shown by equal-loudness contours. Routine investigation for hearing loss usually involves an audiogram which shows threshold levels relative to a normal.

Wavelength spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the waves shape repeats, and thus the inverse of the spatial frequency

In physics, the wavelength is the spatial period of a periodic wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats. It is thus the inverse of the spatial frequency. Wavelength is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings and is a characteristic of both traveling waves and standing waves, as well as other spatial wave patterns. Wavelength is commonly designated by the Greek letter lambda (λ). The term wavelength is also sometimes applied to modulated waves, and to the sinusoidal envelopes of modulated waves or waves formed by interference of several sinusoids.

The amplitude of a periodic variable is a measure of its change over a single period. There are various definitions of amplitude, which are all functions of the magnitude of the difference between the variable's extreme values. In older texts the phase is sometimes called the amplitude.

Frequencies and descriptions

Frequency (Hz) Octave Description
16 to 321stThe lower human threshold of hearing, and the lowest pedal notes of a pipe organ.
32 to 5122nd to 5thRhythm frequencies, where the lower and upper bass notes lie.
512 to 2,0486th to 7thDefines human speech intelligibility, gives a horn-like or tinny quality to sound.
2,048 to 8,1928th to 9thGives presence to speech, where labial and fricative sounds lie.
8,192 to 16,38410thBrilliance, the sounds of bells and the ringing of cymbals and sibilance in speech.
16,384 to 32,76811thBeyond brilliance, nebulous sounds approaching and just passing the upper human threshold of hearing
MIDI noteFrequency (Hz)DescriptionSound file
08.17578125Lowest organ noten/a (fundamental frequency inaudible)
1216.3515625Lowest note for tuba, large pipe organs, Bösendorfer Imperial grand pianon/a (fundamental frequency inaudible under average conditions)
2432.703125Lowest C on a standard 88-key piano.
3665.40625Lowest note for cello
48130.8125Lowest note for viola, mandola
60261.625 Middle C
72523.25C in middle of treble clef
841,046.5Approximately the highest note reproducible by the average female human voice.
962,093Highest note for a flute.
1084,186Highest note on a standard 88-key piano.
13216,744Approximately the tone that a typical CRT television emits while running.

See also

Absolute threshold of hearing

The absolute threshold of hearing (ATH) is the minimum sound level of a pure tone that an average human ear with normal hearing can hear with no other sound present. The absolute threshold relates to the sound that can just be heard by the organism. The absolute threshold is not a discrete point, and is therefore classed as the point at which a sound elicits a response a specified percentage of the time. This is also known as the auditory threshold.

The hypersonic effect is a term coined to describe a phenomenon reported in a controversial scientific study by Tsutomu Oohashi et al., which claims that, although humans cannot consciously hear ultrasound, the presence or absence of those frequencies has a measurable effect on their physiological and psychological reactions.

Loudspeaker transducer that converts electrical energy into sound energy; electroacoustic transducer; converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound

A loudspeaker is an electroacoustic transducer; a device which converts an electrical audio signal into a corresponding sound. The most widely used type of speaker in the 2010s is the dynamic speaker, invented in 1925 by Edward W. Kellogg and Chester W. Rice. The dynamic speaker operates on the same basic principle as a dynamic microphone, but in reverse, to produce sound from an electrical signal. When an alternating current electrical audio signal is applied to its voice coil, a coil of wire suspended in a circular gap between the poles of a permanent magnet, the coil is forced to move rapidly back and forth due to Faraday's law of induction, which causes a diaphragm attached to the coil to move back and forth, pushing on the air to create sound waves. Besides this most common method, there are several alternative technologies that can be used to convert an electrical signal into sound. The sound source must be amplified or strengthened with an audio power amplifier before the signal is sent to the speaker.

Related Research Articles

Acoustics science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound

Acoustics is the branch of physics that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics technology may be called an acoustical engineer. The application of acoustics is present in almost all aspects of modern society with the most obvious being the audio and noise control industries.

Hertz SI unit for frequency

The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the derived unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI) and is defined as one cycle per second. It is named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the first person to provide conclusive proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hertz are commonly expressed in multiples: kilohertz (103 Hz, kHz), megahertz (106 Hz, MHz), gigahertz (109 Hz, GHz), terahertz (1012 Hz, THz), petahertz (1015 Hz, PHz), and exahertz (1018 Hz, EHz).

Ultrasound vibrations with frequencies above the human hearing range

Ultrasound is sound waves with frequencies higher than the upper audible limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is not different from "normal" (audible) sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it. This limit varies from person to person and is approximately 20 kilohertz in healthy young adults. Ultrasound devices operate with frequencies from 20 kHz up to several gigahertz.

Pitch (music) perceptual property in music

Pitch is a perceptual property of sounds that allows their ordering on a frequency-related scale, or more commonly, pitch is the quality that makes it possible to judge sounds as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies. Pitch can be determined only in sounds that have a frequency that is clear and stable enough to distinguish from noise. Pitch is a major auditory attribute of musical tones, along with duration, loudness, and timbre.

Sound can be recorded and stored and played using either digital or analog techniques. Both techniques introduce errors and distortions in the sound, and these methods can be systematically compared. Musicians and listeners have argued over the superiority of digital versus analog sound recordings. Arguments for analog systems include the absence of fundamental error mechanisms which are present in digital audio systems, including aliasing and quantization noise. Advocates of digital point to the high levels of performance possible with digital audio, including excellent linearity in the audible band and low levels of noise and distortion.

Infrasound vibrations with frequencies lower than 20 hertz

Infrasound, sometimes referred to as low-frequency sound, is sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz or cycles per second, the "normal" limit of human hearing. Hearing becomes gradually less sensitive as frequency decreases, so for humans to perceive infrasound, the sound pressure must be sufficiently high. The ear is the primary organ for sensing infrasound, but at higher intensities it is possible to feel infrasound vibrations in various parts of the body.

The low-frequency effects (LFE) channel is the name of an audio track specifically intended for deep, low-pitched sounds ranging from 3-120 Hz. This track is normally sent to a speaker that is specially designed for low-pitched sounds called the subwoofer. While LFE channels originated in Dolby Stereo 70 mm film prints, they became commonplace in the 1990s and 2000s in home theater systems used to reproduce film soundtracks for DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

Audio analysis refers to the extraction of information and meaning from audio signals for analysis, classification, storage, retrieval, synthesis, etc. The observation mediums and interpretation methods vary, as audio analysis can refer to the human ear and how people interpret the audible sound source, or it could refer to using technology such as an Audio analyzer to evaluate other qualities of a sound source such as amplitude, distortion, frequency response, and more. Once an audio source's information has been observed, the information revealed can then be processed for the logical, emotional, descriptive, or otherwise relevant interpretation by the user.

Fire alarm notification appliance

A fire alarm notification appliance is an active fire protection component of a fire alarm system. A notification appliance may use audible, visible, or other stimuli to alert the occupants of a fire or other emergency condition requiring action. Audible appliances have been in use longer than any other method of notification. Initially, all appliances were either electromechanical horns or electric bells, which would later be replaced by electronic sounders. Most of today's appliances produce sound pressure levels between 45 and 120 decibels at ten feet.


Bioacoustics is a cross-disciplinary science that combines biology and acoustics. Usually it refers to the investigation of sound production, dispersion and reception in animals. This involves neurophysiological and anatomical basis of sound production and detection, and relation of acoustic signals to the medium they disperse through. The findings provide clues about the evolution of acoustic mechanisms, and from that, the evolution of animals that employ them.

The brown note is a hypothetical infrasonic frequency that would cause humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance. Attempts to demonstrate the existence of a "brown note" using sound waves transmitted through air have failed.

Audiogram type of graph showing audiometer results

An audiogram is a graph that shows the audible threshold for standardized frequencies as measured by an audiometer. The Y axis represents intensity measured in decibels and the X axis represents frequency measured in hertz. The threshold of hearing is plotted relative to a standardised curve that represents 'normal' hearing, in dB(HL). They are not the same as equal-loudness contours, which are a set of curves representing equal loudness at different levels, as well as at the threshold of hearing, in absolute terms measured in dB SPL.

Electronic pest control is the name given to any of several types of electrically powered devices designed to repel or eliminate pests, usually rodents or insects. Since these devices are not regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act in the United States, the EPA does not require the same kind of efficacy testing that it does for chemical pesticides. Studies on ultrasound pest control devices have been described as ineffective, a waste of money and potentially harmful to users and their efforts to deter insects and prevent disease.

Sound mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing; pressure wave, generated by vibrating structure

In physics, sound is a vibration that typically propagates as an audible wave of pressure, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.

A super tweeter is a speaker driver intended to produce ultra high frequencies in a multi-driver loudspeaker system. Its purpose is to recreate a more realistic sound field, often characterized as "airy-ness". Super tweeters are sometimes found in high fidelity speaker systems and sometimes even in home theater systems. They are used to supplement the sound of tweeters by reproducing frequencies which the tweeter may produce only with a narrow polar output, or perhaps with distortion.

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception and audiology – how humans perceive various sounds. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound. It can be further categorized as a branch of psychophysics. Psychoacoustics received its name from a field within psychology—i.e., recognition science—which deals with all kinds of human perceptions. It is an interdisciplinary field of many areas, including psychology, acoustics, electronic engineering, physics, biology, physiology, and computer science.


  1. Pilhofer, Michael (2007). Music Theory for Dummies. For Dummies. p. 97.
  2. "Hyperphysics" . Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  3. Heffner, Henry; Heffner, Rickye (January 2007). "Hearing Ranges of Laboratory Animals". American Association for Laboratory Animal Science. 46 (1): 20. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  4. Rosen, Stuart (2011). Signals and Systems for Speech and Hearing (2nd ed.). BRILL. p. 163. For auditory signals and human listeners, the accepted range is 20Hz to 20kHz, the limits of human hearing
  5. Bitner-Glindzicz, M (2002). "Hereditary deafness and phenotyping in humans". British Medical Bulletin. 63 (1): 73–94. doi:10.1093/bmb/63.1.73. PMID   12324385.