Enjoy Music - Art of Understanding Frequencies

By amrit shergill Sep 02, 2020

If you are a music lover, the above quote will definitely speak to you. From celebrating good weather to working out, to spending a great evening with friends, chances are that you turn to music for every single thing.

It is only natural that you would want to know what goes into making a great audio experience. We are talking about the audio frequency range that is responsible for the sounds that we enjoy. 

Essentially the sounds that we hear are nothing but the vibration of air as received by our ears. The human ear can hear frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hertz. There is a lot, however, that goes in, in between this large frequency range.

Broadly speaking, every single piece of sound that we hear can be classified into three broad frequencies. Think of that soulful song that touches you deeply each time; it is a beautiful amalgamation of low, medium and high frequencies. Let us look at the audio frequency range a little more in detail:

Low Range (20 Hz to 200 Hz)

Referred to as the low range or bass frequency, this is the foundation on which other sounds rest. Simply put, these are the lowest notes you hear in a song. Alternately, think of drumbeats and the power they add to the music and you have a fair idea of what bass frequency means. 

In fact, the lowest range of this subgroup, essentially between 20-60 Hz is known as sub-bass. These frequencies are so low, that you perhaps only “feel” rather than hear them.  A lot of experimental music uses sub-bass as does hip-hop and rap. 

Lower Mid-Range (200 Hz to 1000 Hz)

The easiest way to describe the lower mid-range or the mid-bass is to think of a bass guitar. Think also of snare drums or the cello and you know exactly what instrument frequency range we are talking about!

Mid-Range and Higher Mid Range (1000 Hz to 5000 Hz)

This is the bandwidth that most of us recognize. In fact, this is where most dialogues and other sound effects reside. Clarity and detail is a function of this audio range. Well-reproduced midranges, or mids as they are fashionably called, are also what define great headphones and speakers. A word of caution here though- a high proportion of higher mid-range frequencies and you could have a discordant mix!

Listening to Music - A Journey of Understanding Frequencies

High Range (5000 Hz to 15000 Hz and Above)

Also referred to as the treble, this is the shrill sound of the vocalist who hits a really high note. Alternately you could also think of a bell or a whistle and there, you know exactly what high range stands for. 

To sum up, it will help to remember that the lowest note on instruments such as the piano or the cello is low frequency while the highest note of a flute is the low end of the high- frequency range. On your music system when you are turning up the bass what you are effectively doing is filtering out high-frequency sounds in favour of low-frequency ones, while when you turn up the treble you are receiving more of the high frequencies.

Next time when you are listening to your favourite song on your headphones, see if you can recognize the audio frequency range. Sure enough with some practice, you will be able to isolate an instrument in a track and begin your journey as an audiophile!

Not just that, importantly see how the mix adds to your overall audio experience. It is only when the frequencies are in harmony with each other does the music sound pleasant, else there is always a feeling of it being out of sync! 

Here’s to more music …….. and to life!

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