Hearing Frequency – How High Can You Go?

Hearing is a precious ability for everyone, but it is particularly important for musicians – or anyone who makes a living in audio production. As we get older, a certain amount of hearing loss is inevitable, but there are things we can do to help stem the tide…

How Loud Is Loud Enough?

As mentioned in the previous post, level matching is a vital part of audio mixing/mastering. When comparing a compressed and uncompressed track, it’s vital to do so at equal perceived volume – we automatically tend to think that louder sounds better, because the ear’s response to low and high frequencies falls off dramatically at lower volumes.

MTT has a post on this very subject. Generally speaking, it’s recommended to monitor audio at no more than 85dB SPL – listening at louder volumes for prolonged periods can actually damage your ears.

Put The Frequencies Up Front

A standard CD can reproduce sounds up to 22kHz, which is the highest frequency humans can hear. However, as we age our ability to hear high frequencies diminishes – few adults can hear much above 15kHz. This is quite normal, and there’s not really much we can do about it.

However, people who listen to a lot of loud music (or any sound) without ear protection tend to lose sensitivity in the 6-8kHz range first. This is an area that is much more important for music, so it’s vital to ensure that you don’t allow this to slip away. Monitoring at lower volumes, using ear plugs at concerts and listening to mp3 players with high-quality sound-isolating earbuds are some ways in which you can reduce your exposure to high sound pressure levels.

If you would like to see how much high frequency response is left in your ears, then you can take this test over at NoiseAddicts…


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