I Have the Ears of a Teenager, and Boy, Do the Police Have Questions For Me

I don’t usually do quizzes online, but this one made me curious: What’s the highest tone you can hear?

You are the typical teenager

You can hear the frequency of the mosquito teen repellent – but probably not for much longer!

The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 17.7kHz

Find out which ultrasonic ringtones you can hear!

I suspect I can actually hear tones higher than this, but my computer fan is too noisy to let me hear anything above this particular tone. Still, even this level is fine. It’s nice to know that all those years of drumming and dancing and just generally playing music stupidly loud have not entirely robbed me of the upper range of my hearing. It’s not so nice to know that I’ll be annoyed as any teen if I ever walk into a convenience store where they’re piping the “annoy the teens” tone through the speakers to thin out the kids. Stupid convenience stores.

46 thoughts on “I Have the Ears of a Teenager, and Boy, Do the Police Have Questions For Me

  1. I got:

    You are a dog
    Or maybe you are a mosquito, you certainly can’t be human.

    The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 21.1kHz.

    Also, not a teenager (26). It’s probable that if these things got setup I’d hear the noise but not realize what was causing it at all. Which would likely result in me getting some Tylenol.

  2. My results:

    You aren’t even a teenager yet!
    Your hearing rules! You’re either quite young or you’ve looked after your ears.

    The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that you can hear is 19.9kHz

    … granted, I’m only twenty, so I suppose I still have relatively good hearing. Hopefully it won’t go away as I get older.

  3. Hey, random. I, like Stretch, can also here the 21.1 kHz one. And I am also 26.

    But then again, I’m the guy that always complains about the high pitched hum that the big flourescent light bulbs make (even when brand new) and then have everyone else in the room look at me like I’m mad because they couldn’t hear anything…

  4. I’m not surprised nobody could hear the 22.4 tone: there’s nothing there. If you open it up in an audio editor, you’ll see a clean 2 second file.

    Interestingly, while I could hear the 21.1 kHz one over the tubes, I couldn’t hear it at all when played through the editor. I guess my ears have gotten as cantankerous as the rest of me since I was a teenager.

  5. the 17,7 one was the highest I could hear as well, using headphones. And it I hear quite clearly, but none of hte higher ones.

  6. This is really disappointing. I can’t even hear the lowest pitch – 8kHz. I’m driving my wife and pets crazy clicking the buttons, but I don’t hear a thing.

  7. I could hear up to 21.1 kHz but I had to turn the volume up in order to hear the tones above 12 kHz. (I’m 39). I’m very surprised that I could hear all those tones. I figured those Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica concerts would have killed off that ability long ago.

    I picked 22.4 kHz as my highest tone and the test called me a Liar. :)

  8. My cat can hear the 21.1 kHz tone and now she is giving me that “careful where sleep” look. I guess playing it 20 times in a row woke Princess Putty from her 22.75 hours of daily sleep.

  9. You are about 20 years old
    The teen repellent will no longer foil you, but you can still hear some pretty high tones.
    The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 16.7kHz.

    Given that I’m closer to 30 than 20, I’m happy with that. I heard the click on and click off for about three more of the ringtones, but I don’t think that counts as I did not hear the actual ouchie sound.

  10. I can hear up to 16.7 kHZ (I am two days away from being 27), but that seems pretty normal to me. I’ve never had a problem with ultrasonic noise from TVs and stuff, even when I was a little kid, yet my hearing is fine.

    My younger brother, on the other hand, is extremely sensitive to that sort of stuff. (And by little, he turns 24 this year.)

  11. I am a dog, too (21.1 khz). And I’m 47. As flattering as being called a dog is, I suspect they’ve messed something up. On the other hand, I’ve always thought there was something weird about my hearing. Maybe I’m a mutant! I always wanted to be one of those.

    Now I have a slight headache.

  12. I can’t hear much above 12kHz, but there’s a lot of ambient noise here (computer fans, mostly). I blame that, and not the fact I’m 37…

  13. Yup. I can hear all of them except the last one (which, as pointed out above, doesn’t have anything in it to hear). I’m 26, but I’ve always been sensitive to noise. Enough that what most people seem to consider a normal listening volume for music in bars and cars and such is wince-inducing.

  14. Although I have excellent hearing and even though I use earplugs, I’ve been a roofer for a long, long time, so I’m expecting to be pronounced “deaf as an old fart” or something. To my surprise, I could hear every high pitch squeak except for 16.7khz, which is, like, barely there. 15.7khz sounded soft. Everything else came in loud and clear.

    Interesting. Clearly, that explains why I can tune out all the everyday mid-range male cussing and boasting around me while I work. Men have made me deaf to normal conversation. I can now stop feeling guilty when I say “I can’t hear you” in reply to requests to get cash before payday.

  15. I could hear up to 19.9Hz – had to turn the volume up for that one though. Of course, I actually am a teenager.

  16. It said, and I quote, that I am not a “hoopy frood”, whatever the feck that is. I topped out at 14.1, but I suspect I could have done a little better with headphones. I’ll try again when I get off work.

  17. I can hear the 12 mHz when I use the computer speakers, 14.1 with open headphones and 21.1 with my Etymotic ER-4 in-ear noise cancelling earphones (although I cannot hear the 17.7 or the 18.8).

    Age and all those years of turbojet engines have taken their toll.

  18. 21.1 at 49 years.

    When I applied to the army (multiple years ago) they made me re-take two tests; the aptitude test since I scored 100% the first time and they thought I had cheated somehow (I had to re-take it with my recruiting sgt and the administering LT sitting on either side of me and I scored the same) and the hearing test, since I was hearing sounds that were ‘too low’ AND ‘too high’. (Remember, only raise your hand if you can HEAR a sound, not if you think you hear a sound. Hey numnuts, I scored 100 on the aptitude test…)

    The low end is gone – too many years filling co2 tanks, but its nice to know the high end is still there.

  19. I hear like a 30-year-old, which is what I am… But can anyone techier than me explain this? They all sound like the same note, played at different octaves. Is that right?

  20. I have to wonder about the claims that “only teenagers can hear” these tones — I’m a 38-year-old that’s been to more concerts than is considered even remotely healthy without any sort of hearing protection.

    I got the “you are a dog” result as well. So, pleased that I can hear the pitches, but a bit skeptical that other adults my age can’t hear these pitches. Although I admit that the last two I can hear seem significantly quieter than the others, so maybe that’s a sign that I’m losing some ability to hear those tones. (Or maybe they’re just quieter, I dunno…)

  21. I’m in my mid-40s and I could hear 21.1, with the volume up. As the pitch increased, I needed higher volumes — which makes me wonder whether what you lose with age is not the ability to hear higher pitches, but to hear higher pitches at a lower volume.

  22. Zomg! I am…normal!

    You are a thirtysomething
    You’re a little frustrated that you can’t hear all the tones that the young ‘uns can but will be more than happy if it means you don’t have to listen to their damn ringtones on the bus anymore.

    The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 14.9kHz

    Until of course, someone signed in to MSN Messenger while I was doing the test with the volume the whole way up. Now, I’ll be lucky if I can hear anything for awhile.

  23. I’m not a hoopy frood anymore – 14.1 is as high as I go. But I still carry my towel with me everywhere!

    Also, the quiz results say that the young people are laughing at me. I thought they were laughing with me. This day just keeps getting worse. Thanks, John.

  24. Discouraging. The highest I could hear was 12 KHz, even with my volume set at maximum.

    Last time I had my hearing tested, at around age 30, I could hear well over 20Khz even at very low volume. Or, as the test technician put it, I could hear “a rat pissing on a bale of cotton at 50 yards.”

    I guess that’s what I get for being old. (I have a child older than the great Scalzi.)

  25. I can hear 14.1 in my mid-40 year old ears. But that doesn’t define how hoopy a frood I am. The fact that I know what a hoopy frood is does.

  26. I can hear up to 17.7kHz as well. Hearing loss is professionally worrying for me; I’m a sound guy. But, really, losing sounds above 18kHz probably won’t affect the quality of the performances. Not many instruments have significant tones or overtones in that range. Or, at least, not that I can hear. :-)

  27. The delivery system matters. Munchkin speakers in a corner of a monitor suck. Even the typical consumer speaker does not have a flat tweeter to 20k. Very good head phones are probably the best way to get an accurate reading.

    8K was loud, but after that I could only hear every other tone to 15.8. No doubt both my cheesey speakers and my ears have something less than ideal response curves.

    FWIW, I think that as we age the response curve of what we hear rolls off the top but not in a smooth way. Those of us past a certain age (I am 56) get very antsy with the high frequency response of certain speakers. A high frequency peak in what I hear coupled with a peak in what the speaker is supplying can be very much like the mosquito effect.

  28. Two comments:

    (1) Delivery system really does matter. I can hear all of the non-empty files on my main system, but it cuts off at 12kHz on my laptop with its crappy speakers.

    (2) So, too, does one’s expectation. Listening for the tone in question is different from being able to pick that tone out from background noise, or being able to note that three of the high tones are off-pitch and three are on.

    I’m a baby boomer who spent waaaaaay too much time around running jet engines in my misspent youth and adulthood… including lots of Soviet jet engines with no noise suppression (come on, it’s only an average 25 dBa difference!). However, despite the physical loss of some hearing, I still have perfect pitch.

  29. What C.E. Petit said.

    This test is a little bogus because the ‘delivery system’ (aka speakers) and the volume make a big difference.

    Speakers are not really designed to emit tones that high so the response curve of your headphones or whatever may be cutting out most of those frequencies. Also the volume matters a lot, too.

    And the empty .wav file to catch cheaters is cheating.

  30. If I’d have known there was going to be a test, I’d have cleaned my ears this morning. Stupid test.

    The VA, as part and parcel of the Claims and Compensation process, tested my hearing a couple of months back and confirmed the bad news I knew all along: twenty years of having shit blow up next to my head hasn’t done my hearing any good at all. On the other hand, I now have proof that when I say to my wife “What? I didn’t hear you,” I’m not ignoring her – or not just ignoring her anyway :)

    Classic Noise Induced Hearing Damage, in the mid to high frequency range – sometimes it’s not all bad.

  31. I’m also a dog.

    Interestingly, I could here the 21.1khz one easier than the two before it – the ones before that were obnoxious.

    I’m 28, so I’m not doing too bad I guess. I’d have thought all those car stereos and SPL competitions would have wrecked me before now, along with bleeding out of my ears when I was younger due to rapid pressurization and ear infections.

    Oh well. Neato. I can hear high pitched noises.

  32. Dumb dumb test. Horrible. Most of our speakers won’t even play something audible above 17k. The sounds themselves are foiled with horrible lower tone buzzing and tons of ambient noise. Dumb. (My wife is an audiologist.)

    Although I suppose it more closely mimics a real environment, but those teenagerpellants are specially designed, and the idea that only young people can hear it is renunculous.

  33. I could hear those at and under 12kHz and those at 16, 17, and 18 kHz. I think the problem is the speaker system, as I’ve complained about whining ultrasound things at stores and been told that it was a system meant to drive away teens (and more than a few managers didn’t believe I could hear it.) Wear your hearing protection, folks, I’m over sixty.

  34. I had to turn up the volume past 17.7, but I heard everything up until the last. So, apparently, I am also a dog. I am 25. Before I turned the volume up, I couldn’t quite hear the upper tones, but they were making my head hurt like hell.

    While those teenager repellent tones would probably drive me away really fast, I doubt I’d be able to consciously hear the sound over any background noise, regardless of what this test says. I have trouble separating normal tones out from background noise as it is.

  35. My wife & I can both hear up to 21.1kHz, & we’ll both be 35 within the next month & 1/2. We are both dogs, & our dog is giving me a dirty look from the hallway. We’re both convinced that the only reason that we heard that high is because we were specifically listenning for the sounds.

    I’ve got tinnitus (a permanent ringing in the ears) caused by severe childhood ear infections including several ruptured eardrums & a 24-year old replaced eardrum. I’ve always heard better at lower frequencies, & the thudding stereos so popular today give me migraines. This test greatly surprised me & makes me want to track down my old ear doctor to let him know what a good job he did on me.

  36. 39 next week – I can hear the 21.1 quite clearly, even with my speakers set pretty low. But then again, I’m always the person who can tell from across the house that somebody’s left the monitor on, or failed to turn off the TV when the video ran out, or what have you.

    My hometown used to have ultrasonic detectors for triggering traffic lights – those suckers drove me crazy.

  37. @ Tapetum: Same here. I’m 39 in a few days, and I can hear the 21.1 kHz loud and clear. It’s cool to know I share hearing range with my cat…

  38. I am 14 and i went to the website and listened to all the tones but could only hear up to 16.7. This is surprising to me because i don’t listen to music and have never been in a really noisy environment. Not to mention my 17 year old brother could hear a higher tone then me and he is a regular metal head. Can anyone explain this?

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