# How many octaves can be heard?

How many octaves exist the the human range of hearing?

Will the same note through all the octaves harmonize?

## 4 Answers

"How many octaves are there in the human range of hearing?"

The human ear can hear a maximum of 10 octaves: 20-40Hz, 40-80 Hz, 80-160 Hz, 160-320 Hz, 320-640 Hz, 640 Hz to 1.28 KHz, 1.28-2.56 KHz, 2.56-5.12 KHz, 5.12-10.24 KHz, and 10.24 KHz up to the upper edge of the human ability to hear. The next octave would start at 20.48 KHz, which is barely above the high threshold of human hearing.

"Will the same note through all the octaves harmonize?"

To an extent, but you have to be careful. The ear doesn't respond in the same way through the whole range, and typically, neither do instruments. For example, the notes at the bottom of the piano can sound very muddy when playing chords, due to note inharmonicity and the weak fundamentals of the instrument.

Yes, all octaves will harmonize since the wave forms are all complimentary. Human range o pitch perception is 20hz to 20,000hz, which gives about 10 octaves. Below 20hz you’re more likely to just hear them as rhythms. If you include those frequencies you can get about 4 more for a total of 14 octaves.

• So with a chord containing 7 notes times 14 octaves a total of 98 notes can harmonize?
– Muze
Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 20:39
• I think you need to revisit your understanding of “harmonize”. Also, if your chord has 7 notes and you want to spread it that far, you might as well use a cluster. Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 20:41
• Isn't that the reason a lot of speakers/headphones quote 20Hz-20kHz? Not a lot of point going further, from a listening point of view.
– Tim
Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 10:15
• @Tim - human ears are only so sensitive. Too slow and we perceive it as rhythm. Too fast and we’re not sensitive enough to pick it up. Yes, some speakers boast going to 35k. Obviously we can’t hear this high, but by doing that it can help make frequency response more even across the upper spectrum of frequencies. Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 18:37

Given that, basically, a pitch will sound an octave higher when its frequency is doubled, and so on, each C note for instance, will sound like any other C note in a different octave, and won't clash. 'Harmonise' may not be an apposite word.

The range of human voices is approximately 80Hz-255Hz with speech, and up to >2kHz singing, bearing in mind sibilants, harmonics etc. Human hearing, as already noted, is approx. 20Hz - 20kHz, but that varies between individuals. Youngsters range goes a fair bit higher.

The four questions posed here are different. 1 (header). As many as you want. 2. Approx 10 octaves. 3.Basically, yes. 4. There is no definitive answer.

The human ear can normally hear 10 octaves of C : from Co to C10. If a musical instrument could be exactly tuned to Scientific Pitch where Co=16 Hz up to C10= 16384 Hz then you could probably perfect octave harmony.

• Thank you for answering I've been gone away for awhile. Vote from me
– Muze
Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 3:12
• Human hearing begins at 20 Hz. The lowest note (12TET/A4=440) at or above that is E0, which is 20.602 Hz, a major 3rd higher than C0. Human hearing ends at 20 kHz. The highest note at or below that is E♭10 at 19912.127 Hz.
– trw
Commented Mar 8 at 20:48