Adventures In Audio

Sine wave tones 20 Hz to 20 kHz - Can you hear them all?

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The accepted range of audio frequencies is from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. But can your loudspeakers reproduce them all? Can you hear them all? Will YouTube cut off higher frequencies? Find out here.

In this video, I create a range of sine wave tones all the way from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (20 kHz).

The video asks three questions...

1. Can your loudspeakers reproduce all of these tones?

2. Can you hear them?

3. Might YouTube mangle the audio in some way?

The audio in the upload is in 24-bit WAV format sampled at 192 kHz, so the quality of the original file is about as good as things can get. But how you hear the tones depends on the three factors listed above.

Comments on this video

You can comment on this video at YouTube

Miss Lia :  Amazing

evilasiov:  With Sennheiser HD800S I can hear up to 18kHz at max volume.

Breann Hodges:  I heard the 20 hz one it appears to be a very low e note

Audio Masterclass replies to Breann Hodges: You must have very good hearing and very good loudspeakers or headphones, or you might be hearing distortion. In any case the 20 Hz tone is very close to E, which is 20.6 Hz. DM

StingRay427v8:  While in my Headphones( AKG 712 Pro ) I can clearly hear even
20 hz here
and also 20 000 hz

But it doesn't work here in Youtube very well, it so extreme quiet on 20 hz and no sound at all at high-frequency.
Really either your upload-file is flawed or Youtube fucked up :(

StingRay427v8 replies to StingRay427v8: later I've seen you've answered similar question, you responded to mine nonetheless. Anyway thx.

Audio Masterclass replies to StingRay427v8: If you can hear 20 Hz to 20 kHz then either your headphones and hearing are amazing, or what you're hearing is distortion. The original WAV file for this video is as good as Pro Tools can make it and I uploaded the video with the original WAV audio. However YouTube encodes the audio so it isn't as accurate as the original and the frequency response drops at either end of the scale. DM

Hannah Stansfield:  Listen carefully i shall say this only once .

Gregory Sayegh:  im 29 years old, imac speakers, heard till 14000 Hz

Bacon Hair’s Power:  Lol I can’t hear at 16 000hz to 20 000hz

Pairadeau:  Youtube massacred everything 15k and above.

Bogdan Vlad Ropcean:  30 to 14k

Michel Joseph Pétulli:  use a loudness correcting software and bring all samples down to -14 int and it should fix the uneven signals by allowing the freqs to be heard as you intended

Audio Masterclass replies to Michel Joseph Pétulli: ​@Michel Joseph Pétulli With respect, you are arguing against things we never said. Indeed we must have missed each other's point and should probably progress to the next video.

Michel Joseph Pétulli replies to Michel Joseph Pétulli: @Audio Masterclass LOL I just told you the level of degradation that occurs because of platform restrictions regardless of the quality uploaded or resolution I even tried at 32fp 192000hz and other formats (aac)the upload algorithm does the same to all it seems ("at 720p it maxes out at appx 384kbps if played at lower video resolution it plays at 128 mp3 ") and the eq spectrum is also impeded but we must have both missed each other's point lol

Audio Masterclass replies to Michel Joseph Pétulli: ​@Michel Joseph Pétulli It is unfortunate that we have not been able to fully communicate to you the intention of this informal test. However we will reiterate that part of the test was to see what YouTube would do to a high-quality 192 kHz 24-bit WAV file. If you take care to listen to the commentary and read the description it should be clear to you that this is so. This is a test of how YouTube will encode the audio and what it will sound like. A different test, which we may make at some point, would be to encode the audio to AAC locally and upload that, then see whether YouTube lowers the quality further or whether it remains the same. That however is not the test performed in this video.

Michel Joseph Pétulli replies to Michel Joseph Pétulli: @Audio Masterclass it does not matter what bit rate or resolution you upload to youtube it will play back at a maximum of 384kbps and if you play back in lower than 720p it will play back at 128kbps mp3 either resolutions are over compressed compared to the great resolution file you may have uploaded that is why you have to follow playback specs protocol for youtube and all other platforms if you want to have honest playback quality

Audio Masterclass replies to Michel Joseph Pétulli: @Michel Joseph Pétulli Thank you for your clarification of your comment. The subjective loudness of the entire audio track in the file uploaded measures -19.9 LUFS according to the Signum Audio Bute Loudness Analyser plug-in. This concurs with YouTube's 'Stats for nerds' feature which measures the level at -5.9 compared to -14 LUFS which we understand to be their reference level. The demo is in no way falsified, as part of the stated purpose of the test was to see what YouTube would do to the audio. Apart from convert it from 192 kHz 24-bit WAV to 44.1 kHz 128 kbit/s AAC-LC there is very little difference other than the complete loss of frequencies above 15 kHz. The level measures at -19.7 LUFS, which is very close to the original, so there is no squashing of the level, in fact a small increase.

Michel Joseph Pétulli:  Volume / Normalized
100% / 100% (content loudness -5.9dB) on this video

EgoShredder:  In other tests on the net and on my computer, I usually hear up to a max of 16k, but on this video only up to 15k. However all my senses suffer when I am totally exhausted with sleep deprivation, e.g. blurred vision etc. So will test again on another day. I am 48 years old though so not too bad I guess.

Audio Masterclass replies to EgoShredder: We downloaded YouTube's encoding of the file. There's nothing above 15 kHz so your 16 kHz is probably OK.

Master Millenium:  The audio compressed by YouTube does not play (headphones Sennheiser HD200 driven by an Fiio headphone amplifier / DAC) from 16kHZ upwards... I replicate the experiment in Audition (generate tones - sinewave) and my hearing is OK up to 18.500 Hz. After that, if I increase the frequency, I have to crank up volume much higher, and around 19kHz is inaudible. But YouTube does something bad to audio file. Listen for yourself and make an A/B with your original (before uploading).

Audio Masterclass replies to Master Millenium: One more thing - YouTube may serve different versions of the file to different users, depending on device or any other factor that YouTube deems important. Whether all users get the same quality of audio is something we don't yet have any data on.

Audio Masterclass replies to Master Millenium: @Niowiad Thank you. We have downloaded YouTube's version, which is AAC-LC encoded at 128 kbit/s, 44.1 kHz. As you note, there is nothing at 16 kHz or above.

Niowiad replies to Master Millenium: True. I double checked with Voxengo SPAN. The sinewaves are not showing up starting from the 16k one.

Audio Masterclass replies to Master Millenium: Thank you for your comment, which we appreciate. Just to clarify one thing, the sine wave audio in the video is the original 192 kHz WAV exported from Pro Tools into Final Cut Pro X. The video was exported to ProRes with 192 kHz WAV audio, then converted to MP4 with audio pass-through. We checked the audio by reimporting it from the video back into the Pro Tools session, splitting the stereo back into mono, isolating one channel, boosting it by 3 dB to compensate for the pan law, inverting it and playing it back with the original. Silence indicates that the audio is perfect. Differences between YouTube's audio and the original are completely down to YouTube, and of course there are bound to be differences when the audio is converted to a lossy format.

Punckfuelcell:  I'm have M-Audio monitors. I got everything up through 15. 16k I am second guessing if it was just static noise I heard.

Audio Masterclass replies to Punckfuelcell: Thank you for your report. One thing that can confuse these kinds of tests is any kind of noise or distortion. You might think you're hearing something, but it might just be distortion in the loudspeakers (or YouTube's audio coding). It's important to say that for a proper understanding of how well your hearing is performing, a consultation with an audiologist would be necessary.

Caladan Ultima:  In my home entertainment surround system (very old and cheap), I could hear till 13k. Will test on my studio monitors and let you know

Audio Masterclass replies to Caladan Ultima: Thank you. Should be interesting.

Jan Weigang:  Can only hear 15k in the video. Reproducing the test in FL Studio I can just barely hear 16k.
Cranking the volume up to max I can make out 20 Hz as a rumble in the video. In DAW that is similar. Listening with Beyerdynamik DT 880 Pro 250 Ohms.
Youtube will definitely mangle with the audio and convert it, though.

Audio Masterclass replies to Jan Weigang: Thank you for the information. 16 kHz is good. Bad news is that things only get worse...

Garrett Glass:  iPhone X near minimum volume and ear placed on speakers: 40hz-15khz heard clearly (though all frequencies were detected)

Audio Masterclass replies to Garrett Glass: An interesting result, and it's a useful reminder that people listen on a much wider range of systems than they ever used to.

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Sunday December 8, 2019

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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