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If you were unable to hear up to 20 kHz

You are not alone! Fortunately, there are very few sounds not made by a signal generator that approach above 15 kHz.

The frequency range above 10 kHz is generally referred to as air. The sounds included here are harmonics of high-pitched sounds such as cymbal crashes in music.

Compressed Music
MP3s compress and eliminate much of the air frequencies, sometimes leading to a cramped, smaller feel. The worse the bit-rate, the more compression, and more sound left behind.
This is the general difference between CD Quality and MP3 Quality. Listen to purchased CDs and compare them to MP3s of 128 bit-rate, and listen for differences.

The Dynamics of Hearing Pt. 2

Humans can typically hear from 10dB up to 140 dB before hitting a Threshold of Pain (the precise dB level of threshold is variable for all people). It has been experimentally shown that a 10dB increase corresponds to a two fold increase in LOUDNESS. Therefore, 40 dB is 2^3 (eight times) louder than 10 dB, quite a significant difference.

What is a Decibel anyway?

The Decibel (dB) is a description of a ratio between two quantities. These measured quantities are generally of intensity or power, although the quantities may also be voltage or sound pressure.

How big is one dB?

One dB has been measured to be very close to a Just noticeable difference (JND). Here are samples of a sound clip, falling 1 dB at a time. When played sequentially, the difference between the audio seems negligible, but when contrasting the first and last of the series, the difference is evident.

Scale of Intensity

Threshold of Hearing: 0 dB Rustle of Leaves: 10 dB Public Library: 40 dB Normal conversation: 50 dB Alarm Clock: 80 dB Lawn Mower: 90dB Rock Concert: 110-130 dB Gunshot: 140 dB Rocket Launching (from the launch pad): 180dB

What this Means:

A rock concert can be anywhere from 128-512 times as loud as a normal conversation. Though the human pain threshold is at 130 dB, that does not mean that sound below that level is not doing damage to the eardrums. Threshold levels for damage vary over time based on the intensity of the sound.

Hearing Damage

Sound at 90 dB (Lawnmower) can damage hearing after 8 hours of exposure per day. Sounds at 100dB (Jackhammer) can damage hearing after 2 hours of exposure per day. Sounds at 110-140 dB (Rock Concert) can damage hearing after anywhere from 3.75 30 minutes of exposure per day.

What does this do to ears?

Prolonged exposure to loud sound can cause a ruptured ear drum. The ear drum helps not solely to produce sound, but also protects against infection of the middle ear. Those with ruptured ear drums must be careful of infection to not risk permanent hearing loss. Hair cells in the cochlea do not get replaced if they are damaged or destroyed. If this happens, the next best thing is a cochlear implant designed to approximate electrical signals.

Hearing loss is permanent but avoidable!


Wear hearing protection whenever possible over 90100 dB. Hearing damage becomes a much more serious concern when noises are extended over a long Precautions! It loud is best to avoid hearing damage period of time. before it becomes a serious problem. Do not listen to music at an extensively loud volume, especially over an extended period of time. IPod type ear buds are particularly dangerous because they are inserted directly inside the ear, leaving no time for intensity to be diffused by air.

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