Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


High-Frequency Sounds Cut Off by Cell Phones Might Carry More Information than Previously Thought

The human voice routinely produces sounds at frequencies above 5000 hertz, but it has long been assumed that this treble range, which includes high sounds such as cricket chirps, is superfluous to the understanding of human speech.

Now researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of Utah are taking a second look at this underappreciated range. Their research reveals that people can glean a large amount of information, including the identification of familiar songs or phrases, from just the higher frequencies.

The work, which the team will present at the 162nd Acoustical Society of America Meeting in San Diego, may prompt a re-evaluation of how much spectrum is in fact necessary to carry the full meaning of the spoken word.

Although current cell phone technology only transmits frequencies between 300 and 3400 hertz, musicians have known for decades that an unbalanced or cut-off treble range can ruin the quality of vocals at concerts. Brian Monson, now a research scientist at the National Center for Voice and Speech at the University of Utah, started out his career as a sound engineer and experienced first-hand that too much treble can make singing voices sound shrill, while too little treble can make them sound dull. “People are very sensitive to a change in the treble range,” Monson says. “They can tell immediately that something is different.” From previous research, Monson also knew that singing carries more energy in the treble range than normal speech.

Curious about whether the treble range was indeed more important for singing than for speech, Monson teamed up with researchers from the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Science at the University of Arizona to test what sort of information lies within the treble range for both spoken and sung words. The researchers recorded both male and female voices singing and speaking the words to the U.S. national anthem, and then removed all the frequencies below 5700 hertz. When volunteers listened to the high-frequency-only recordings, they were able to identify the sex of the voice, the familiar passages from the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and whether the voice was singing or speaking the words.

“This was definitely an unexpected result,” says Monson, who notes that the traditional view of speech would not have predicted that such specific information would be carried in frequencies above 5000 hertz. The results may help explain why it can be especially difficult to understand cell phone conversations in trains or at cocktail parties. In loud environments, the low-frequency range can become cluttered with noise and the higher frequency signals that might serve as a back-up in face-to-face communication are cut off by the cell phone transmission. The scientists’ studies may also have implications for the design of hearing-aids and may help guide the quest to produce synthesized speech that sounds natural. “This started off as a scientific study of the art form of singing, but the results can tell us surprising information about human communication in general,” Monson says.

The paper 5aSCb3, “Perceptually relevant information in energy above 5 kilohertz for speech and singing,” will be presented in a poster session Friday, Nov. 4, from 8-10 a.m.

Main meeting website:
Searchable index:
Hotel site:
Webcast registration and viewing:
In the week before the meeting, the ASA's World Wide Press Room ( will be updated with lay-language papers, which are 300-1200 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video.
The Acoustical Society will grant free registration to credentialed full-time journalists and professional freelance journalists working on assignment for major news outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact Charles E. Blue (, 301-209-3091), who can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at

Charles E. Blue | Newswise Science News
Further information:

Further reports about: Acoustical Society High-frequency Phones Speech cell death cell phone

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI have developed a novel single-polarization Kramers-Kronig receiver scheme
16.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>