The Human Hearing Range - What Can You Hear?

This blog post has been reviewed and approved by a hearing healthcare professional.

The normal frequency range of a young healthy person’s hearing is about 20 to 20,000 Hz.1 As we age, we begin to lose our hearing at the upper frequencies, bringing the range to about 20 to 14,000 Hz.2 Typically, people’s hearing is the most sensitive in the 2000 - 5000 Hz frequency range.3 In terms of loudness, the audible range typically starts at 0 dB while sounds that are more than 85 dB can be damaging to your hearing with prolonged exposure.

What is the difference between hertz and decibels?

Sounds can be measured in both Hertz (Hz) and decibels (dB). Hertz refers to the frequency or the pitch of a sound, which is a scale between low and high. Decibels refer to the loudness or intensity of a sound, on a scale between soft and loud.
Everyday sounds on the decibel scale

Let’s take a look at some common, everyday sounds and see where they sit on the decibel scale4:


  • Watch ticking - 20 dB

  • Normal conversation - 60 dB

  • Washing machine - 70 dB

  • Traffic - 85 dB

  • Lawnmower - 80 to 85 dB

  • Music concert - 110 dB

  • Ambulance siren - 120 dB

  • Fireworks -  140 dB


Long and repeated exposure to any sounds above 85 dB can damage your hearing. You can protect your hearing by wearing custom earplugs which reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss when worn correctly. This is especially important if you are going to be exposed to loud noises, such as music concerts, shooting at a firing range, or working around noisy equipment.

How does our hearing compare to other species hearing?

There are some sounds that even humans with normal hearing can’t hear, such as the sound of a dog whistle. A dog can hear it because dogs have a much larger hearing range than humans do. There are many other species besides a human’s best friend which have a better or different hearing range than humans. Here are some examples of other species and their hearing range5:


Elephants: 16 to 12,000 Hz

Humans: 20 to 20,000 Hz

Dogs: 50 to 46,000 Hz

Canary: 250 to 8,000 Hz

Mouse: 1,000 to 100,000 Hz

Bat: 3,000 to 120,000 Hz

Think that your hearing range isn’t perfect? It’s probably a good idea to see a hearing healthcare professional for a full hearing assessment. Hearing healthcare professionals can determine whether or not you are hearing the sounds that you are supposed to hear and recommend a course of action if you do have a hearing loss.

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1 “Neuroscience. 2nd edition.” National Library of Medicine. Accessed June 27, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10924/

2 Verschooten, Eric, Shihab Shamma, Andrew J. Oxenham, Brian C.J. Moore, Philip X. Joris, Michael G. Heinz, Christopher J. Plack. “The upper frequency limit for the use of phase locking to code temporal fine structure in humans: A compilation of viewpoints.” National Library of Medicine. June 2019. Accessed June 27, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6524635/

3 “THE HUMAN HEARING RANGE - WHAT CAN YOU HEAR?” Widex. October 8, 2016. Accessed June 27, 2022. https://www.widex.com/en-ca/blog/global/human-hearing-range-what-can-you-hear/

4 “What Noises Cause Hearing Loss.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed June 27, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html

5 “The Hearing Ranges of Animals - Which Animals Hear Best?” Visually. Accessed Jun 27, 2022. https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/animals/hearing-ranges-animals-which-animals-hear-best