Pitch vs. Frequency
Most people are familiar with the word “pitch,” as in the high-pitched sound of the keys on the far right of a piano or the low-pitched sound of the far left keys. Fewer people are familiar with the technical term “frequency,” although both words are often used in the same discussion – particularly conversations about how to soundproof an apartment, home or office.
To our ears, pitch and frequency are the same thing. High-frequency waveforms result in high-pitched sound. The same goes for mid, low or mixed-range waveforms. An 18-wheeler produces low-frequency waveforms resulting in a low-pitched sound to our ears. Generally, traffic produces a range of pitches from sirens to Harleys and everything in between.
Generally, the higher the pitch, the easier the sound is to block. The opposite is true of low-pitched noise. A good example is sound coming from a car’s sound system when the car windows are closed. You can rarely hear the higher-pitched sounds of a singing diva, but you can certainly hear the accompanying rhythmic “thump” of the bass player. That has to do with the frequencies of the waveforms that the car speakers create.
Most folks are familiar with the word “volume” to describe how loud something is. Volume is independent of pitch. The pitch of a television newscaster’s voice doesn’t change as you raise or lower the volume. She is either louder or softer, but the pitch of her voice stays the same. The reason she sounds louder when the volume is increased has to do with the waveforms produced by the speakers.
Volume plays a big part in noise abatement. An air-conditioning unit sounds much louder three feet away than 20 feet away and can be more annoying, even though the pitch stays the same. This is why we factor in both pitch and volume when talking to customers about what to expect when deploying a noise abatement product.
Noise abatement products are designed to interfere with waveforms, resulting in lower volume. With soundproof window inserts, 18-wheelers still sound like 18-wheelers in their pitch, but they have a lower volume. Many of our customers describe our products as making the problem sound like it is much further away – in other words, the volume is significantly less. The challenge is reducing the volume of a loud, low-pitched sound like the rumble of a train one block away or a large barking dog just across the fence.
What This Means When You Soundproof an Apartment, Home or Office
We try to set realistic expectations with prospective customers by discussing volume and pitch, giving them a percentage we think the offending sound will be reduced. This percentage is based on a 65-decibel maximum, which is the limit allowed by most sound ordinances in the US. Your noise complaints may vary from the rumble of airplanes flying so low that they shake the whole house (extremely low pitch/high volume), which we can’t reduce as much, to the screech of cicadas in a nearby field (high pitch/low volume), which we can almost completely eliminate.
Want to soundproof your apartment or office? Talk to us about how noise abatement window inserts can block sounds in your space and reduce your noise and stress levels.