What is Frequency Response?

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If you are a sound or avid music enthusiast, you might have heard the term frequency response. The term can relate to various devices such as headphones, speakers as well as amplifiers and acoustics. “What is Frequency Response? Is a popular question, in this article you will learn exactly what frequency response is and its significance in the realm of sound and music technology. 


As the name suggests, the frequency response is related specifically to frequency, and how effectively specific components reproduce sound. When we speak about human hearing, the frequency range is approximately 20Hz to 20kHz. Obviously, human beings have a diverse range and there is no one size fits all range. 

Frequency response essentially quantifies the sound reproduction and how well each audio element reproduces these sound frequencies. Think about it like this, what is the bottom-line frequency that a subwoofer can reproduce? All equalizer settings aside, the best frequency output should be the same as the input. This is necessary because you certainly do not want to distort the signal. This is often referred to as a flat response. 

Issues Gaining a Flat Response 

There are several problems associated with obtaining a flat response. Here are some of those problems: 

  • Non-linearity with electronics and acoustics 
  • Difficult to predict the outcome (how it will sound in the end) 
  • Inductors, coils, and drivers impact the frequency response 
  • Room acoustics impact the frequency response 

Headphones Frequency Response 

As stated earlier, there are various ranges when it comes to frequency response. When referring to the frequency response, we are talking about the range of the bass, mids, and treble. For headphones, 20 to 20,000 Hz is the general standard. Here is some more information relating to frequency response and headphones: 

Frequency response can sometimes range from 5 to 33,00 Hz. Bear in mind that a wider frequency response range does not always result in a higher quality sound. 

Bass frequencies that are less than 20Hz are often less obvious to the ear, but they can generally be felt more. Treble frequencies that are more than 20,000 cannot always be heard. 

Speaker Frequency Response 

When it comes to speaker frequency response, the standard is around 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz however, one might assume that speakers that can reproduce sound effectively at all ends of the frequency spectrum would produce better sound however, this is not always the case. Generally, speakers are compartmentalized into tweeters for producing high frequencies and woofers for producing lower frequencies. 

Wider frequency response range does not always produce better sound 

Speakers operate on complex frequencies; therefore, you cannot predict the quality of the sound based on the frequency-response range.  

Understanding the basics of frequency response allows you to comprehend the mechanisms associated with the devices you probably use daily such as headphones and speakers. Frequency response is a complex subject however, understanding the basics can aid in comprehending exactly how sound devices operate to reproduce sound. 

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