What is sound frequency?

David M. Vernick, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Frequency is the number of cycles a sound wave makes in one second. The number of cycles is measured in hertz (Hz). The higher the frequency of a sound, the higher the pitch. High-pitched sounds, such as a siren, have frequencies of thousands of hertz. Low-pitched sounds, such as thunder, have frequencies of only a few hertz.

People with normal hearing can hear frequencies as low as 20 and as high as 20,000 hertz. However, humans are most sensitive to sounds in the frequency range characteristic of human speech, 500 to 8,000 hertz.

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