High Frequency Range Test (8-22 kHz)


Humans hear frequencies from 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz. As we get older, or exposed to loud sounds which damage our ears (such as loud concerts), the upper limit decreases.

This test helps you benchmark the highest boundary of your system's frequency extension. If you can't hear any of the high frequencies played back during this test, don't blame your speakers too quickly. Unlike low frequencies, high frequencies are easily reproduced through smaller (and cheaper) speakers. Assuming your sound card is not prone to aliasing — please refer to the third section below — the weakest components in this test are your ears.

This extended high frequency audiometric test can be seen as an audiophile-grade hearing test, assessing the very last octaves of our hearing and the frequencies that we are supposed to hear when we are young and in good health. Since regular audiograms produced by audiologists do not cover those frequencies, this test is highly valuable for us audio enthusiasts.

For a regular hearing test, use our Online Audiogram Hearing Test or the test available from hearingTest.online.

The Test File

22 kHz → 8 kHz Sweep
+ Voice Over

A -9 dbFS sweeping sine tone, from 22 kHz (supposedly inaudible) down to 8 kHz (if you can't hear this one, consider checking your hearing). On the top of the test tone, a voiceover tells you which frequency is currently playing.

For this one, keep your computer's audio levels down! You don't want to damage your hearing. Use the voice-over as a reference. Keep it quiet, and you will be safe.

Play back the file until you start hearing the underlying high pitch tone as it descends. The voiceover tells you the frequency you have reached. This frequency more or less represents the upper limit of your audio system, or your hearing.

Confirm your result with our High Frequency Audibility Blind Test.

Beware of possible Aliasing!

Cheap sound cards may have trouble reproducing the highest frequencies of this test. At best, they won't reproduce anything. At worst, ghost frequencies will be generated in the audible range. These frequencies are not representative of the file's contents!

If you hear strange ups and downs, like someone tuning an AM radio, or anything else that does not sound like a continuously descending sweep, suspect this test to be corrupted by aliasing (the scientific name to this phenomenon).

Check your sound card with our Online Aliasing Test.

Sometimes a system aliases only when played through a browser. In such a case, download the original file (click the download icon) and play the test tone straight from your hard disk through your favorite audio application.

Alternate version
48 kHz Sample Rate

Alternatively, you can try the 48 kHz version of our test: reason is that your sound card may run at 48 kHz and is poorly resampling our original 44.1 kHz test file.

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My Recommendation

If you are looking for pretty nice headphones, here is my favorite in terms of 'best value for the money' : the HD668b. If money is not an issue, try the HD600.

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