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Human ears are most sensitive to frequencies around 2,000 to 5,000 cycles per second. That’s the most useful range for hearing human speech.

But music can encompass sounds down to about 20 cycles and up to 20,000. We just can’t hear the highs and lows as well as the middle. Strangely, the louder the music, the better we hear the lowest and highest sounds. In fact, we get the fullest spectrum of sound as close as possible to the threshold of pain.

Piet Spaans / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The lesser water boatman is an insect usually found feeding on ponds and lakes across Europe. Only a few millimeters long, they look a bit like a sunflower seed with big black eyes and paddling arms.

They're not known for their good looks, but rather the male's mating call, which brings them the status of the loudest animal alive, relative to body size. The call is nearly 100 decibels, equivalent to standing a stone's throw away from a roaring freight train.

Into It: The Scream

Oct 9, 2012

Andrew Bales continues with part three of his four-part look at iconic stock sound effects.

Courtesy Photo

When we hear the word “noise,” we think annoyance and distraction. And that makes perfect sense. Noise is essentially interference, something that disrupts our experience with everything from radios and televisions to images on digital cameras. But our ears have a unique relationship with colorful noise.