A diminished ability to hear high-frequency sounds is one of the first obvious signs of hearing loss. This article will discuss sound frequency tests, what qualifies as normal hearing and how humans perceive different frequencies.
What Is a Sound Frequency Hearing Test?
A sound frequency hearing test measures the range of frequencies that an individual can hear. This type of hearing test uses a frequency sweep from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz to determine your hearing range’s lower and upper limits. It is typically used in a free online hearing test to assess your “hearing age.”
Unlike a professional hearing test, the sound frequency test does not provide information on the type and severity of your hearing loss. You can read our complete guide on hearing loss to get a better understanding and actionable next steps.
When you get your hearing tested by an audiologist, they will only test sound levels from 250 to 8,000 Hz, which is roughly the speech range.
You can take a word recognition test to test your speech understanding capacity.
The Role Frequency Plays in Hearing Testing
The hair cells inside the inner ear can become damaged or degraded due to age, prolonged exposure to noise, loud sounds, or medical conditions. A person progressively loses their ability to hear high-pitched sounds when this happens.
Several sound frequency online hearing tests tell you how old your hearing is. These tests range covers 20 to 20,000 Hz, but most adults can only hear up to 15,000 Hz.
These sound quality tests usually involve various high and low-frequency tones. You can use headphones or computer speakers, but most tests recommend in-ear headphones with a flat frequency response and limit noisy environments as much as possible.
Common types might also feature an audio presentation of a list of words or numbers. If you are taking an online hearing test, you should take the results with a grain of salt.
If you’re experiencing hearing challenges, you should consult a licensed professional for a comprehensive hearing test.
Online Hearing Test Vs. Audiology Exam
A professional audiology exam measures the function of your outer, middle and inner ear. These are usually administered by licensed audiologists in hearing clinics.
Only audiologists are qualified to diagnose the type and severity of a hearing loss.
In a hearing test performed by an audiologist, the tester will use a sound generator to play different tones ranging from 250 to 8,000 Hz.
The audiologist will adjust the volume level at each frequency to determine the softest sound the patient can hear. This is called the “hearing threshold.”
An audiologist will use headphones to test the left ear and right ear separately and plot the thresholds for each ear and frequency range on a grid called an audiogram.
A comprehensive hearing test also includes tests to check your ability to understand speech and objective tests of the middle ear function. The test conducted for diagnosing middle ear problems is called a tympanometry test
Your ability to hear different frequencies is a good indicator, but exercise caution when using hearing tests online.
The results may not be accurate or reliable due to factors such as background noise and lack of proper audio equipment.
It is important to consult a hearing professional if you suspect hearing loss or having trouble hearing normal conversations.
Your audiologist can recommend effective treatment options based on the type and degree of your hearing loss.
What is high-frequency hearing loss?
High-frequency hearing loss means reduced hearing sensitivity to sounds at high frequencies. It is commonly seen in adults over 65 and individuals exposed to loud noises. High-frequency hearing loss occurs when the hair cells responsible for high frequencies degenerate or break.
Which frequencies can humans hear?
Humans can perceive frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz. However, the upper limit for most adults is 17,000 Hz. Although we can detect a wide range of frequencies, we are most sensitive to frequencies between 2,000 and 5,000 Hz, where most speech sounds occur.
How do we hear different frequencies?
Each of the 16,000 hair cells in our ear corresponds to a narrow frequency range, and they are arranged in order of their frequency, starting from the base to the top of the cochlea. The hair cells dedicated to the highest frequencies are located near the opening of the cochlea, whereas the low-frequency hair cells are positioned at the bottom.