How Do You Measure Sound?

Advanced Hearing & Balance Specialists Hearing Aids

Sound travels in waves and is measured in frequency and amplitude.

Amplitude is the measurement of how forceful a wave is. Measured in decibels (dB), the louder the sound is, the higher the decibel number will be. Normal conversation clocks in around 65 dB.

  • Exposure to sound over 85 dB (busy Hurricane traffic) can cause damage within 8 hours
  • Exposure to sound over 100 dB (a motorcycle) can cause damage within 15 minutes
  • Exposure to sound over 120 dB (a chain saw) can cause damage instantly

Frequency is the measurement of the number of sound vibrations in one second. Measured in hertz (Hz), a healthy ear can hear a wide range of frequencies, from very low (20 Hz) to very high (20,000 Hz).

As we age, the cells in our ears age as well. This makes it harder to hear high frequencies. While age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is a normal part of aging, wearing hearing protection when you come into contact with high decibel sounds can help protect your hearing.

So what sounds should you be able to hear?

Below are links to sounds are a range of frequencies.

8,000 Hz should be easily heard by everyone with normal hearing

12,000 Hz is hard for anyone over 50 years of age to hear

15,000 Hz is difficult for anyone over the age of 40 to hear

17,400 Hz is a frequency that only teenagers can hear. Most people over the age of 18 cannot hear this tone

High-Frequency Hearing Loss

High-frequency hearing loss is caused by:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Ototoxicity
  • Disease

Those with high-frequency hearing loss have trouble hearing sounds in the 2,000 to 8,000 Hz range. This often prevents the individual from hearing s, h or f sounds; it also makes it harder to hear women and children. Other high-frequency sounds these individuals may miss is a bird chirping or the beeping of a microwave.

No need to worry (yet) if you could not hear any of the links above. There are a number of variables to online hearing tests, including the volume of your computer as well as the quality of your speakers. Just to be safe, we do recommend contacting your audiologist. They will have you complete a hearing evaluation, which will accurately determine the frequencies you can and cannot hear.