Detection of high-frequency energy level changes in speech and singing

Brian B. Monson, Andrew J. Lotto, Brad H. Story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Previous work has shown that human listeners are sensitive to level differences in high-frequency energy (HFE) in isolated vowel sounds produced by male singers. Results indicated that sensitivity to HFE level changes increased with overall HFE level, suggesting that listeners would be more "tuned" to HFE in vocal production exhibiting higher levels of HFE. It follows that sensitivity to HFE level changes should be higher (1) for female vocal production than for male vocal production and (2) for singing than for speech. To test this hypothesis, difference limens for HFE level changes in male and female speech and singing were obtained. Listeners showed significantly greater ability to detect level changes in singing vs speech but not in female vs male speech. Mean differences limen scores for speech and singing were about 5 dB in the 8-kHz octave (5.6-11.3 kHz) but 8-10 dB in the 16-kHz octave (11.3-22 kHz). These scores are lower (better) than those previously reported for isolated vowels and some musical instruments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-406
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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