Don's Home Technology Sound Sound Frequency/Pitch Contact

Under Construction.
See also:
Sound Frequency | Sound Loudness
Audio - stereo - Home Theater (Surround Sound) in home and garden.
Frequency Response Specs

Sound is a mechanical wave that results from the back and forth vibration of the particles of the medium through which the sound wave is moving.
There are regions in the air where the air particles are compressed together (compressions) and other regions where the air particles are spread apart (rarefactions). The compressions are regions of high air pressure while the rarefactions are regions of low air pressure. The greater the difference between the high air pressure and low air pressure is the loudness.
Sound waves are sometimes represented by a pressure graf.
They may look like ocean waves with an up and down motion, but they do not move up and down. The graph represents pressure not distance.
The differences between the high and low pressure is loudness. A big difference or the higher the graph is a loud sound.
The distance between the waves are represents frequency. Close = high frequency, spread out = low frequency.

Loudness is measured in decibels (dB). A decibel is one tenth of a bel, a seldom-used unit named in honor of Alexander Graham Bell.
It is a logarithmic (base 10) scale so 20 dB has 100 times the power as 10 dB. 30 dB has 1,000 times.
A-weighted decibels, abbreviated dBA, or dBa, or dB(a), are an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear.
The human ear is more sensitive to sound in the frequency range 1 kHz to 4 kHz than to sound at very low or high frequencies. dBa adjusts sound level down at low and high frequencies to compensate for this.
See: Decibel A, B and C at
Sounds with a loudness of 120 dB or more can cause pain and damage to the human ear.

Acceptable Noise - dBA - Levels

The speed of a sound wave depends upon the medium the wave is moving through. Sound moves faster through dense materials such as wood or metal because the molecules are close together. Sound also moves faster through warmer materials because the molecules of a warm substance are colliding more often than the molecules of a cold substance.

Medium Speed of Sound (m/sec)
air (0° C./32° F.)
(sea level)
331 (740 MPH)
air (20° C./68° F.) 344 (770 MPH)
cork 500
alcohol 1,240
water 1,500
wood (oak) 3,850
brick 3,650
glass 4,540
aluminum 5,000
iron 5,103
steel 5,200
I've seen Mach 1 (the speed of sound) listed as 761.5 and 770 MPH.


Generally, the needed range for Rock music is about 60 Hz to 8,000 Hz, with Classical extending at both ends from 40 to 12,000 Hz
Examples of high and low frequencies:
High Low
Song Birds 1K-8K Hz Owl 300-400 Hz
Soprano Bass
Piccalo Stand-up
Siren 3K Hz Air Horn 250-500 Hz
Source of Sound Frequency Range (Hz)
Porpoise 7,000-120,000
Bat 10,000-120,000
Stereo 15-30,000
Dog whistle 20,000-24,000
Frog 50-8,000
Piano 30-4,100
Dog 450-1,800
Human 85-1,100
Vocal, Bass 40 to 900
Vocal, Tenor 130 to 1300
Vocal, Alto 175 to 1760
Vocal, Soprano 220 to 2100
Human Voice
Professional singers usually have a range of 3+ octives. Julie Andrews has a range of 4 octaves, from C3 below middle C to C7 above high C (some credit her with 5 octaves).
Source of Sound Frequency Range (Hz)
Acoustic Guitar 82 to 880
Bass Guitar 41 to 300
Bass, Standup 41 to 261
Bass Guitar, 5 String, with Low B String 32 to 300
Bassoon 62 to 525
Clarinet 160 to 1750
Electric Guitar 82 to 1050
Flute 260 to 2600
French Horn 82 to 1000
Oboe 260 to 2600
Piccolo 525 to 4200
Pipe Organ 27 to 4200
Trumpet 160 to 1000
Tuba 45 to 240
Violin 200 to 3100
Middle C (C4), Hi-C (C6)261.63, 1046.52 Hz
Octave around middle C (A3 - G4)220-415.4
Piano A0 - C8 27.5-4186
Large Pipe Organ
with 32 ft pipe
Sound Examples
Note 1: Note numbering starts at C. e.g. C4 follows B3. A piano keyboard goes A0, B0, B0, C1, C1, D1, ...
Note 2: Concert pitch with A4 set to 440hz is modern. In other times and other places concert pitch may have been a different frequency, and usually a bit lower. The pitch of A440 has remained since 1939; pitches have risen a little, particularly in Eastern European countries, which often wish pianos to be tuned to A 444 or even a bit above.
Note 3: Each octave represents a doubling of frequencies.
Frequency Chart from Independent Recording Network | Alexey NL Khlystov

see Frequency Response Specs


Organism Frequency (Hz)
Dolphin 150-150,000
Bat 1,000-120,000
Cat 60-70,000
Dog 15-50,000
Human 20-20,000


Ultrasound refers to sound waves that travel at very high frequencies. Doctors use ultrasound to look at soft tissues inside the human body without having to perform surgery. Ultrasonic waves reflect off soft tissue and the reflected waves can be converted into a picture, called a sonogram.

Ultrasound can also be used to find tumors, break up kidney or gall stones, clean teeth, and treat muscle spasms and sprains. Ultrasonic vibrations are used to clean small metal items, such as jewelry, electronic components, and machine parts.

Some General Principles

At one time, the range of human hearing was considered to be from 50 Hz to 15 kHz (original definiton of high-fidelity [hi-fi]), and so recordings and playback equipment had to be able to reproduce that range of frequencies. As technical progress continued, the range was redefined as 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Digital sampling theory requires you sample at twice the maximum frequency you want to record, so CDs record a 16-bit (levels of audio) sample at a rate of 44kHz. See Digital Recording Basics.

While the human ear can't hear pure tones above about 20kHz, the presence (or absence) of upper partial tones far above this frequency is clearly audible because these ultrasonic components affect the resultant waveform that the ear receives.

Sony and Philips, the co-inventors of the compact disc, have publicly acknowledged the inadequacies of the 16-bit/44kHz digital format. They have a new product called the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) that uses a new digital recording process called Direct Stream Digital (DSD). The DSD process extends bandwidth and dynamic range far beyond the inadequate limits of compact disc. Sony's literature says the new product is "more like analog."

Sound can be heard from further away in very dry air than in humid air. Water or humidity in the air absorbs much of the sound, thus reducing how far it will travel and still be heard. Wind can also reduce the distance. On a cold, dry winter day you should be able to hear sounds from greater distances than on a day before it will snow.

The density of the air actually only affects the speed of the sound and not the distance it travels.


last updated 17 Mar 2022