Audio Frequencies Ear Training

Audio Frequency ear training

All sounds are made up of a combination of frequencies. In music the base frequency (called the fundamental) gives gives the pitch of the sound and the other frequency components (called 'harmonics' or 'overtones') give the characteristic timbre of the note.

Frequencies are typically measured in cycles per second, using in the unit 'Hertz' (Hz).

Musical notes and frequencies are directly linked: for example the A note above middle C has a frequency of 440 Hz. Generally, musical notes will contain multiple frequencies, with one fundamental and lots of harmonics. So in fact, it is the base frequency (fundamental) of the A note which is at 440 Hz.

Altering the balance of frequencies within a sound is known as equalisation (EQ). Musicians use the EQ on their amps to shape their tone. Recording and mastering engineers apply EQ to make songs sound punchy and full.

Once the sound becomes more complex than isolated notes, it can be more useful to talk in terms of 'bands' of frequency. For example, how much sound is present in the 100Hz-200Hz band.

Sound equalizers typically have 10 or more frequency bands whose volumes can be adjusted individually to alter the overall sound.

The ability to accurately identify frequencies by ear is highly prized amongst audio engineers and is comparable skill to absolute pitch among musicians. Frequency training is an invaluable tool for troubleshooting problems when recording audio or doing live sound (for example: a 60Hz hum is often caused by electrical interference).

Regular frequency training can allow you to:

  • Recognise frequencies by ear (including musical notes)
  • Identify and fix common audio problems
  • Get great guitar and bass tone by understanding your amplifier's EQ.
  • Design sounds using FM synthesis
  • Improve the sounds of your recordings by mastering equalisation
  • Hear much more detail in music as your ears listen across the full frequency range


Frequency Fundamentals

The Frequency Fundamentals series is all about audio frequency ear training and how to recognise frequencies by ear. Learn about the characteristics of EQ bands, how to EQ percussion and other instruments, and ways that ear training on audio frequencies can help any musician or producer.

Frequency Ear Training Resources

Ear Expansion Ear Training Course

Ear Expansion:
Audio Frequencies

Learn all about frequency ear training with the Audio Frequencies module of the Ear Expansion course.

Questions about Audio Frequencies Ear Training

Articles about Audio Frequencies Ear Training:

How to get Golden Ears for Music

How to get Golden Ears for Music

Have you ever wondered how studio pros mix and master recordings to create the perfect blend?How sound engineers at live concerts keep the band sounding great?How some guitar players seem to have a simply incredible sound? The answer is: frequency hearing, which means...
Mythbusting the Mosquito

Mythbusting the Mosquito

Those of you who are regular readers of The Oatmeal will have noticed a recent feature: The Teenager Audio Test, otherwise known as “the Mosquito,” a mysterious sound that only youngsters can hear. We at Easy Ear Training love anything that gets people...
Hearing Effects: Introduction

Hearing Effects: Introduction

Welcome back to the ongoing series that began with Frequency Fundamentals. I trust and hope it has been as helpful for you as it was fun for me to write. Moving along, this is the start of a new series that will dovetail with the frequency series. Consider it the...
New Quiz! Percussion Frequencies

New Quiz! Percussion Frequencies

If you’ve been working on the Frequency Fundamentals series here at, you may be looking for a way to practice the skills it teaches. Fotios has created a special quiz for the first half of the series, covering drums and cymbals. The Frequency...
Harmonics And Distortion

Harmonics And Distortion

Missed the rest of the series? Click here to start at the beginning. Up to this point in the series we’ve focused on characterising each sound with a single frequency representing its pitch. In today’s article we’ll consider the other frequencies...
Audacious Ear Training

Audacious Ear Training

Enjoy singing your favorite tune at the top of your lungs in the privacy of your own car? Having such wonderful self-confidence in a less-than-stellar vocal performance can be exhilarating, but developing accurate pitch is an essential part of ear training. You can...
Introduction To Frequency Training

Introduction To Frequency Training

Can you identify the frequency of a kick drum? How about a snare drum? A woman’s voice? A man’s? How about an F#2 played on a piano? As an audio professional (audio recording/mixing engineer, music producer, mastering engineer, etc.) you should be able to...

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