Skip to main content

Today we’re going to talk about pitch. I’m not going to get too crazy with it because it’s really complicated but I’m just going to illustrate some main points about it so you can get a handle on it. We’ve all heard the saying “Oh he’s got good pitch.” Singers who have good pitch. I don’t know what’s happened to the pitch with singers today but it’s gone. Singing as an instrument is gone. I just don’t understand it and all these electronic compensations just make things worse.

But anyway, pitch. Sensory characteristics from frequency. So we’re combining a scientific measurement of frequency with a subjective evaluation in our brain. And that subjective evaluation occurs in many, many times and many, many cycles as we’re listening to the sound. So the lower limit of pitch is the lowest frequency that we’re working with. And that’s the frequency that gives us the sensation of tone, okay?

So that’s kind of our starting point on the low end, the tone and the sensation of that that tone gives you, okay? The lower limit depends on the individual physical factors of the human being. So it’s more of a structural issue with your hearing and it’s more age-related. So the upper limit obviously is the higher part or higher frequency that can be heard and that is the big problem structurally with human beings.

And if you want to figure that out for yourself go on the internet. There’s all kinds of tests that you can take. You plug your age in and you look at the curves and then they give you an audible test that you can do. Put on your headphones and you can actually have kind of a rudimentary hearing test on there. I did one the other day and I was good to 13,000 which at 65 years old I couldn’t believe. But most people at 40 years old are good up to 15,000 and most people that are 50 years or older, their upper limits are around 8,000 cycles for the factors that really depend on pitch determination.

So pitch is mainly a higher frequency situation and if we’re going to use a break point to determine the separation we want to start with about 14,000 cycles. So anything below that is mainly not relevant but everything above it is, in terms of pitch. It’s kind of a break point to distinguish because anything lower than that we get into feeling and bone conductance and we’re not able to separate upper limit and lower limit.

We can distinguish pitch as humans down to about 12 cycles, okay? And if you ever want to try that out go to a dragstrip and a drag track and you’ll hear frequencies in those ranges at that huge amplitude so be very, very careful with it. So I hope that short summary of pitch gives you some idea of it. Make sure that you’re able to distinguish that in your music today and mainly in your rooms and the design of them.

This is an unedited transcript from our video series from Acoustic Fields. There will be some errors in grammar and sentence structure that occur during this translation process.

For complete understanding and comprehension, please view the video which is included in this text. For any additional information regarding this topic or others relating to room acoustics, please contact us directly at:

P: 520 – 392 – 9486

Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.