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Module 1: Intensity of sound

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The response of the ear to different frequencies

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Physics - The response of the ear to different frequencies

The response of the ear to different frequencies

The human ear does not respond equally well to different frequencies.
Different people may not have the same physical response to a particular
frequency. However, if a large population were tested some trends would
emerge. The weakest response of ear occurs very low frequencies and at the
very high frequencies as shown in the.

The full range of human hearing is between 20 hertz and 20 000 hertz.
Frequencies below 300 Hz are not perceived well at all. For us to hear
these sounds they really need to be played at quite loud intensity levels.
For example, a 100 Hz tone needs to be played at, at least 40 dB to be
heard at all. Frequencies above 10 000 Hz are also not detected easily. The
ear responds best to frequencies between 2000 and 5000 Hz. Since these
frequencies are heard so readily, these tones may well be detected if
played at less than zero decibels. The dB scale was established using a
standard 1000 Hz tone, but this is not the optimum tone that a person can
detect.

The graph shows contour lines of perceived loudness. Note that the
vertical axis displays the actual sound levels being played to the person,
and the horizontal axis shows frequency in hertz. All points joined by one
contour line are sounds perceived by the listener to be of the same
loudness. For example, the 60dB A line joins points representing sounds
equally as loud as the 1000 Hz tone when played at 60 dB. The far left and
far right of the graph show frequencies that we do not hear particularly
well. The dips in the graph correspond to the frequencies we hear very
well.

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