Wikipedia defines threshold of audibility as:

"The absolute threshold of hearing (ATH) is the minimum sound level of a pure tone that an average human ear with normal hearing can hear with no other sound present."

It also says:

It is approximately the quietest sound a young human with undamaged hearing can detect at 1,000 Hz.[The threshold of hearing is frequency-dependent and it has been shown that the ear's sensitivity is best at frequencies between 1 kHz and 5 kHz

What I don't understand is why the frequency should be the lowest point of the optimum range of frequency for audibility. Shouldn't it be the lowest frequency which can still stimulate the auditory system at some particular intensity?

(Sorry, if this is a total bogus question)


1 Answer 1


In principle, it doesn't matter what you choose as a reference frequency.

But 1kHz is a "nice round number", and it is also in the middle of the flattest part of the amplitude response curve of human hearing at low sound levels, which is between about 0.7kHz and 1.5kHz.

See the graph of equal-loudness contours in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness


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