Recording: What You Should Know About Audio Frequency

We have mentioned frequency several times, but we haven't discussed what you need to know about it.  In our microphone buying guide, we discussed the frequency range of each microphone.  We also discussed this in our speaker buying guide and stage monitor buying guide.  By referencing to microphones and speakers, you might already see why it is so important for producers and live sound engineers to know audio frequencies well.  Let's first discuss what audio frequency means:

What Is Audio Frequency

Audio frequency is a characterization of the vibration that the human ear registers.  The unit to measure audio frequency is called hertz, which is abbreviated to Hz.  For those musicians out there, audio frequency is what you typically hear as "pitch."  Most commonly, it is said that the human ear can hear between 20 Hz (hertz) and 20 kHz (kilohertz).

Audio Frequency Of Common Instruments

Music Frequency Chart
  • Guitar: 80 Hz to 1,200 Hz
  • Bass Guitar (4 String): 41 Hz to 392 Hz
  • Bass Guitar (5 String): 31 Hz to 392 Hz
  • Bass Drum: 20 Hz to 100 Hz
  • Snare Drum: 120 Hz to 250 Hz
  • Toms: 60 Hz to 210 Hz
  • High Hat: 3,000 Hz to 16,384 Hz
  • Most Cymbals: 8,192 Hz to 16,384 Hz (Ride can start at 300 Hz)
  • Mandolin: 196 Hz to 1,318 Hz
  • Banjo: 110 Hz to 800 Hz

Why Audio Frequency Is Important

Every microphone and every speaker has a frequency range that it picks up.  For example, when you are trying to pick the best microphone to mic a certain instrument, you need to know the frequency range of the mic and the range of the instrument.  In context to speakers.  the speaker needs to be able to pick up all audio frequencies of the instruments being used.  A personal example of this, the first recording speakers I got for my recording rig had a starting frequency of 50 Hz.  When I was mixing albums, I could not hear the punch of the bass drum at all, and could only hear higher pitches on the bass guitar.  When EQing, you also need to know the frequencies in which you are after to know what you need to adjust to bring out or suppress.

Our Recording Article Series

If you would like to check out any of our other recording articles, please check them out below!

If you have any questions about audio frequency or any other recording questions at all, we are always here to help!  We can be contacted through our contact us page found here.