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Where does 20Hz - 20kHz expectation come from?

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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Consider... 4 string bass in normal tuning has its lowest string tuned to E (40Hz). How many tunes have a droning E in them? Not many. Fair to assume not much organically is happening below 40Hz on most tracks. Kicks are usually tuned higher e.g. A (55Hz).

On the other side of the coin. There's mostly harmonics over 4kHz. Very useable up to 10kHz. Not much meaningful however happening above. Industry "standard" SM57 rolls of after 15kHz. Some much loved ribbon mics roll off even lower.

Recordings by their very nature are not natural. Not many things produce low "lows" and high "highs". It may be painful when you think about it and that includes the best and most "natural" sounding recordings. They're processed even if they don't sound processed.

And the highest level of trickery is in making us believe it's all real.

So where does the expectation of faithful reproduction come from? What does that mean? And why is it that we expect 20Hz -20kHz? Just because we can does it mean we should?

How many of of us can even hear 20kHz? 19kHz? 18kHz? I can't.
 

millennia_one

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Sep 1, 2014
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"How many of us can even hear 20kHz? 19kHz? 18kHz?" I can't and i don't think many can, but you can certainly feel it. And it adds a great deal if you have speakers than can drop to 20hz (very rare). Proper bass supports the whole frequency range not just the low end.

I don't know where the 20-20hz comes from but if I add a subwoofer i certainly want the amp to send all the info it has to the speakers. And many don't listen to just acoustic music, since the late 60's synth bass has been used so maybe it was in response to music production changes? That's my best guess though.

My little Sugden A21 has a 10Hz-20kHz delivery so go figure, low wattage monstrous bass delivery.
 

insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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I was only using acoustic instruments as reference as notes played have the same fundamental frequency irrespective of instrument used.

Also with an acoustic instrument we have an expectation of what it should sound like. Still it's only an expectation.

I'm more questioning the paradigm of faithful reproduction and why are we so hung up about it. Surely, I can't be the only one?
 

Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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Trying to find sensible information on this, is like trying to find half a needle in two haystacks. The consensus seems to be that 20Hz -20KHz represents the range of a young person with normal healthy hearing, with the top end dropping to around 12-14KHz in middle age. Some say sounds as low as 12Hz can be heard.

One site suggested that the normal dynamic range for humans, runs from 0dbl to 180dbl. Apparently 185-200dbl is sufficient to kill a human, so you can see how there is a lot of BS out there. 150dbl will probably blow your eardrums out...
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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It's just what has (unrealistically) become accepted as the range of human hearing.
It's so ingrained and figures matter.
....Imagine speakers with a quoted upper response of 15kHz. They would be regarded as inferior. Yet FM radio topped out at 15kHz, apart from the odd dog or bat, I doubt anyone thought FM lacked treble.

Reviewers and users of add-on 100kHz supertweeters swear by them.
Their justification seems to be that the ability to reproduce frequencies we can't hear, greatly benefits those that we can.

I think most of us expect any audio product to at least cover 20 - 20000Hz don't we?
 

Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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Reviewers and users of add-on 100kHz supertweeters swear by them.
Their justification seems to be that the ability to reproduce frequencies we can't hear, greatly benefits those that we can.
Some people think that raising your speaker cables a couple of inches on blocks, will make a real difference to sound quality. Ho-hum...
 
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Wil

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May 8, 2020
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The things I've read…

Argue over this:
"Let's assume we have a playback system consisting of a CD player, a preamplifier, a power amplifier and speakers. If each of these has a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, is this sufficient to reproduce all of the frequencies we can hear? The short answer is no. Here is why:

The frequency response of a system can be determined by summing the frequency response of each component in the audio chain. If two components are - 3 dB at 20 kHz, then together they are - 6 dB at 20 kHz. If we look at our example system, we have four components in the chain: CD player, preamplifier, power amplifier, and speakers. If all are -3 dB at 20 kHz, then we have a system response that is -12 dB at 20 kHz. Worse yet, this system will typically measure -4 dB at 10 kHz. This system will not come close to meeting the performance of our ears! Each individual component was well matched to the limitation of our ears, but as a system, these components cannot achieve anything resembling High-Resolution Audio.



In summary, very high bandwidth is required at each link in the audio chain if we want to assemble a High-Resolution system. Audio components and digital formats that just meet the requirements of the human ear may be entirely inadequate when connected together in a chain.
"
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
388
274
11,270
The things I've read…

Argue over this:
"Let's assume we have a playback system consisting of a CD player, a preamplifier, a power amplifier and speakers. If each of these has a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, is this sufficient to reproduce all of the frequencies we can hear? The short answer is no. Here is why:

The frequency response of a system can be determined by summing the frequency response of each component in the audio chain. If two components are - 3 dB at 20 kHz, then together they are - 6 dB at 20 kHz. If we look at our example system, we have four components in the chain: CD player, preamplifier, power amplifier, and speakers. If all are -3 dB at 20 kHz, then we have a system response that is -12 dB at 20 kHz. Worse yet, this system will typically measure -4 dB at 10 kHz. This system will not come close to meeting the performance of our ears! Each individual component was well matched to the limitation of our ears, but as a system, these components cannot achieve anything resembling High-Resolution Audio.



In summary, very high bandwidth is required at each link in the audio chain if we want to assemble a High-Resolution system. Audio components and digital formats that just meet the requirements of the human ear may be entirely inadequate when connected together in a chain.
"
You know what, I don't really care whether or not my system adheres to some arbitrary ideal response curve, I just care about what it sounds like, to me. If your system sounds good to you, it is good. You can spend a fortune trying match that perfect standard, so your system sounds, "as the artist intended" but, if it doesn't suit your hearing and personal preference, you will never be happy with it.
 
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Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
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You're again making another's Thread about you.
You know what, I don't really care whether or not my system adheres to some arbitrary ideal response curve, I just care about what it sounds like, to me. If your system sounds good to you, it is good. You can spend a fortune trying match that perfect standard, so your system sounds, "as the artist intended" but, if it doesn't suit your hearing and personal preference, you will never be happy with it.
Are you truly the-insistent-everyman of hifi?
 

muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
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I'll stick to tried and tested... booze and switching the light off.
I always think the already amazing Leonard Cohen sounds even better with a glass of red wine in a barely lit room. If speaker cables can make something sound better, dim light and alcohol can too 😁😁
 
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