If you want to discuss audio, you have to know the different components of sound. By components, we are referring to sub-bass, bass, midrange, treble, and brilliance. You will see these components mentioned in any audio device’s specifications and features. To understand the different components of sound, you have to know the range of frequency that these components fall in.
That is where the audio frequency spectrum comes into the scene. Understanding the audio frequency spectrum and its distribution among all components is essential if you want to be an audio geek. It is equally useful in understanding various technical specifications of audio. Besides, it is mandatory to understand the audio frequency spectrum if you want to understand various audio equalizers.
What is Audio Frequency Spectrum?
To understand the audio frequency spectrum, you need to understand frequency first. Any sound causes the air molecules to vibrate, and these vibrating molecules hit our eardrums. The number of vibrations per second is measured in terms of frequency.
The audio frequency spectrum refers to the range of frequencies that the human ear can hear properly. The range starts from 20Hz and ends at 20,000Hz. For audio devices, this audio frequency spectrum is divided into seven different frequency bands. Each of these bands has a different sound quality.
What are the Different Audio Frequency Bands?
Even though the audible frequency range for the human ear spans from 20Hz to 20kHz, different human beings have different audible frequency ranges. This depends on the age of the subject to quite an extent. Some of us can hear higher frequencies better and cannot hear lower frequencies, and vice versa.
The frequencies near 20 Hz are considered to be extremely deep, and they are hardly audible to human ears. They are more felt than heard due to the extreme vibration of the lower frequencies. The frequencies around 20 Khz are extremely high and can cause hearing loss. Some consider such sound as noise.
The audio frequency spectrum is broadly divided into seven categories. Let us understand the different audio frequency bands in detail.
1. Sub-Bass (20Hz – 60Hz)
Sub-bass is the deepest sound that human ears can perceive. Sub-bass is more felt than heard. This is because sub-bass is more about vibration rather than actual sound. Due to higher vibration, the sound is powerful and impactful. This is why most sound instruments cannot produce sub-bass. There are some instruments such as bass guitar, harp and bass trombone that are specialized in producing sub-bass. Audio with sub-bass boost only could be unpleasant to listen to continuously.
2. Bass (60Hz – 250Hz)
The range of bass is wider than sub-bass. Similarly, more sound instruments can produce bass in comparison to sub-bass. In fact, you will find modern songs have a significant bass amount that makes them full and rich to the human ears. To be more specific, modern songs focus on 90 Hz to 200Hz. There are several popular instruments such as trumpet, saxophone, guitars, violin, and cymbals that produce bass audio. Even male and female voices can produce bass. Audio with bass boost can produce a boomy sound that could be unpleasant as well.
3. Low Midrange (250Hz – 500Hz)
Low midrange produces low tones that most musical instruments can produce. Human male and female voices can produce low midrange sound easily. You can hear these low tones clearly and some bass is present in the low midrange. If you boost low midrange reasonably, the sound will be clearer. But if you boost it extremely, the sound can get muffled.
4. Midrange (500 Hz – 2000 Hz)
The most important part of most modern songs is the midrange. It is critical to create a general impression. The musical instrument players can tweak the tones of the midrange to make the sound more prominent. The midrange of a musical instrument makes the sound of the instrument stand out among the tones of all the instruments in a song.
5. Upper Midrange (2000Hz – 4000Hz)
Upper midrange is responsible for bringing in the rhythm of a song. You will find percussion producing upper midrange. Selected musical instruments produce upper midrange with a slight boost. But if the boost is too much, hearing can be fatigued. Upper midrange is mostly suitable for vocals as such vocal sounds are highly noticeable.
6. Lower Treble (4000 Hz – 6000 Hz)
Lower treble is referred to as Presence. The tones produced by lower treble enhance the clarity of sound. But when the lower treble is boosted, it sounds very harsh. Therefore, it needs to be absolutely perfect without any boost for its distant property. You will find violin and piccolo producing perfect lower treble.
7. Brilliance (6000 Hz – 20000 Hz)
Brilliance is referred to as Highs as well. Only a few instruments can achieve sound in this high-frequency range. Brilliance adds a novelty to any sound but producing it is rather difficult. When you boost brilliance, it can cause distortion and hissing sound. Such a sound can be extremely displeasing. Certain percussion instruments, like cymbals, fall into this category.
Audio Frequency Spectrum Table
|Frequency Band||Frequency Range|
|Sub-bass||20 to 60 Hz|
|Bass||60 to 250 Hz|
|Low Midrange||250 to 500 Hz|
|Midrange||500 Hz to 2 kHz|
|Upper Midrange||2 to 4 kHz|
|Lower Treble||4 to 6 kHz|
|Brilliance||6 to 20 kHz|
When you talk about sound and musical instruments, and you want to understand the frequency specifications, you have to know about audio frequency spectrum. The audible frequency range is divided into seven bands, and each band adds a unique property to a sound. You will find these bands in the specifications of speakers, microphones, amplifiers, instruments, and various such audio gadgets.