If you plan to work in sound, it’s important to know the acuity of your own ears in three areas – the range of frequencies that you’re able to hear, the differences in frequencies that you can detect, and the sensitivity of your hearing to relative time and direction of sounds. A good place to begin is to have your hearing tested by an audiologist to discover the natural frequency response of your ears.  If you want to do your own test, you can use a sine wave generator in Logic, Audition, or similar software to step through the range of audible sound frequencies and determine the lowest and highest ones you can hear.  The range of human hearing is about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, but this varies with individuals and changes as an individual ages.

Not only can you test your ears for their current sensitivity; you also can train your ears to get better at identifying frequency and time differences in sound.  Training your ears to recognize frequencies can be done by having someone boost frequency bands, one at a time, in a full-range noise or music signal while you guess which frequency is being boosted. In time, you’ll start “guessing” correctly. Training your ears to recognize time or direction differences requires that someone create two sound waves with location or time offsets and then ask you to discriminate between the two. The ability to identify frequencies and hear subtle differences is very valuable when working with sound. The learning supplements for this section give sample exercises and worksheets related to ear training.