Find A Quiet Space to Listen
As you prepare for Play With Your Music, we suggest that you find a consistent, quiet spot to engage with the course materials and recordings from week to week. In the first few weeks of the course, you'll be spending a lot of time listening to your own music and the music of others. Listening in the same physical space with the same equipment will help maintain consistency from week to week.
We also encourage you to listen using the best equipment you have available to you. That might mean a set of stereo speakers, or high quality headphones. Listening back to the audio files in this course using earbuds or laptop speakers is not advised because they often cannot reproduce the full spectrum of frequencies used in recordings. We're starting this course by sharing with you a process of listening deeply and critically to recorded sound. You'll want to hear all of the tiny details in your own recordings and the recordings of others!
Evaluate Your Listening System Frequency Range
To evaluate the range of frequencies that you can hear through your listening system, click here (or on the above image) to load a test video. This video contains a test audio signal that sweeps from very low frequencies ( < 10 Hertz) to very high frequencies ( > 20,000 Hertz). To get started, we suggest that you turn your volume down to about 30% and skip to the middle of the video timeline. Once you hear the test tone, raise the volume until you hear it at a comfortable level. Then, restart the video from the beginning and take note of the approximate frequency when you first hear the tone on your system, and listen for the last frequency when you no longer can hear the tone. Use the frequency labels on the horizontal axis of the graph as your guide.
This range of frequencies that your system can reproduce is not quite the same thing as the frequency response of your audio playback system. Not all speakers and headphones reproduce each frequency along the range evenly or equally. If you are interested in the more detailed ins and outs of speaker frequency response, read this article. For this course, the general rule of thumb is that listening in a quiet, consistent environment with better equipment (i.e., wide frequency range, and "flatter" frequency response), you will hear more details and come closer to experiencing the recordings as intended by the artists, engineers, and producers.
To get a better understanding of the frequency range differences among various speakers and headphones that you might have, try the above activity across multiple listening systems available to you (e.g., headphones, your laptop speakers, your home stereo, etc.). Share your experiences with your learning ensemble.
@Fredstuffcom suggested using the following video to test both your hearing and your headphones because it gives you the exact frequencies on the video. We agree!
Learn More about the Science and Math behind How We Hear Sound
Mathemagician Vi Hart has prepared an amazing video illustrating the scientific and mathematical basis of sound and how humans hear and perceive sound. Check it out by clicking here (or on the image below):
- The #PWYM Team