I had this interesting question in mind, sometimes when you listen to loud music, there is no problem speaking to a person at an ordinary volume so that he can hear and understand you, but mostly when you listen to loud music, it's impossible to speak normally, you have to shout to try to tell someone something.

Obviously there are frequencies that interfere with human speech, but what are they?

How to set up an EQ to remove these interfering frequencies?


Human speech can have fundamental frequencies as low as 85 Hz for deep-voiced men and definitely has important content (e.g., fricatives) in the 5 kHz range. Telephone systems historically have been bandwidth limited to approximately 300 Hz to 3 kHz, but we all know the low quality of telephone calls, and it can be difficult to distinguish between /f/ and /s/ sounds because of the lack of content above 3 kHz.

Because of masking (high intensity low frequency content making higher frequency content inaudible), you may need to reduce the level of all frequencies below 5 kHz in the music to maintain intelligibility of speech. Note that this will generally make the music sound pretty bad. You might as well either turn down the music or move somewhere where the intensity of the music is reduced by distance or intervening obstacles.

  • Or use ASL to communicate :-) Jul 19 '18 at 13:24

There's considerable value in "how clean the audio is & how much space it has".

Metal band, over a bad PA, in a horribly-designed sound stage... ie pub rock.
Not a hope you can hear anyone even yelling in your ear. Pain will arrive before intelligibility.

Let me put forward a testable theory, based on an album that was notable in its time & I later learned that even 10 or more years later was on college sound engineering courses because of the 'space' that they had managed to create.

The challenge is - on at least a half-decent system, not from YouTube on a boom-box or Walmart "hifi" - turn this album up so the walls & windows start to join in... then, standing in front of the speakers, hold a conversation with someone.... resist the temptation to raise your voice.

The album is The Blue Nile - Walk Across the Rooftops
I have never tested the theory from 'u-toob' or mp3, but I have many times tested it in a studio or controlled live environment.

You cannot make this album too loud to talk over, so long as you don't introduce distortion in your op/amp/speaker stages.

BTW... the 'pain-centre' of loud rock in a bad acoustic environment is 4k. Can't hear a damn thing if the PA is pumping 4k with distortion. 4k is right where the human voice does 'intelligible' - consonants.
...it's also where deaf sound engineers push the highs, because they can't hear them any more :/


This is a challenge we face in Worship music, where the pastor wants to ramble on for a few minutes with some music in the background; so either the keyboard drowns him out, or the volume ends up set so low that the music may as well not be there.

The solution for us is to put a LoPass filter on the keyboard EQ, so we can roll off the high frequencies, but leave the low frequencies there. If we roll out to below any frequencies that the pastor is speaking at (often, 1000 - 1500KHz), then we don't step on each others toes. When he sits down, we can roll the filter back up and carry on playing the full song.

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