Upper Limit of Frequency for Human Hearing


THE frequency above which air-borne sound becomes inaudible is generally considered to be about 20 kc./s. All sensitivity determinations agree that the threshold rises very steeply above 12 kc./s.; and above 12 kc./s. there are indications that frequency discrimination begins to fail, that is, that the least discriminable increment of frequency measured as a fraction of an octave begins to rise sharply. It seems to have been tacitly assumed that the human cochlea is incapable of response to frequencies above 20 kc./s., and that the upper limit for air-borne and bone-conducted sound is the same.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

PUMPHREY, R. Upper Limit of Frequency for Human Hearing. Nature 166, 571 (1950) doi:10.1038/166571b0

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.