How to Memorize Frequency Bands?

Here are some tips that could help you to memorize and internalize the frequency bands.

Think of them as of reference points for your mind rather than direct guidance. They may be more or less helpful, depending on different factors: personal skills, experience, peculiarities of perception, kind of audio material, equalization settings, listening conditions, etc.

If you are a musician, and especially if you have a perfect pitch, trying to mentally connect center frequencies of band-pass filters with musical notes, closest to them, may be a good place to start. This works best with pink noise. The higher the Q factor and the more the frequency gain, the stronger the impression of a certain pitch.

Here is a screenshot of the 30-band in-app EQ with labels of musical notes that approximately match the filters’ center frequencies.

Musical instruments manufacturers and software developers often use different octave numerations. We use the Scientific pitch notation (SPN), also known as American standard pitch notation (ASPN) and international pitch notation (IPN) here. So, we consider that C4 is the middle C (~260 Hz), and the exact audio frequency of A4 is 440 Hz.

This method can be applied to some extent to music as well, especially in certain cases when frequency bands contain the fundamental frequencies of musical instruments. You might notice, how equalization changes loudness of different notes or relationship between fundamentals and harmonics/overtones. But for music, the approach would generally work as a positive side effect of timbre/pitch associations.

For pink noise exercises, try to find connotations between different spectral bands and certain “real” sounds, such as working engine, streamlet, waterfall, pouring sand, etc. For music exercises, think of resonating environments and objects which may have an effect, similar to particular equalization: big and small boxes, bottles, jars, cans, pots, cars, rooms, bathrooms, caves, tunnels, anything you have had experience with.

You can associate middle frequencies boost with vowel sounds:

Boosted frequency band, HzVowel sound
250‘Oo’ /u:/
500‘O’ /ɔː/
1000‘Ah’ /ɑ:/
2000‘A’ /ɛ/
4000‘Ee’ /i:/

And the highest frequencies can be thought of as sibilants:

Boosted frequency band, HzSibilant sound
8000‘Sh’ /sh/
16000‘S’ /s/

When training with music, make (mental) notes of how altering different frequency bands changes timbres of instruments/voices. There are some tables with attempts to verbally describe different spectral ranges. However, using them may not be very helpful because the effect of particular equalization on timbre may drastically depend on a sound source, how it has been recorded, the playback conditions, the amount of frequency gain, and other settings. Moreover, the alteration of the same frequency band may be described as something that brings a positive or a negative quality under different conditions. E.g., fat and groovy vs boomy (low range boost), full and warm vs muddy (low-mid range boost), clear vs thin (low-mid range cut), round, full and rich vs boxy and honky (mid range boost), bright vs harsh (high-mid and high range boost), smooth vs dull (high-mid and high range cut) and so on. Cutting one frequency band may have an effect similar to boosting another frequency band. So, instead of relying on someone’s interpretations, try to make your own descriptions, related to certain sound sources, settings and conditions.

Recognizing cut frequencies is a bit harder than boosted ones. When the EQ is on, listen to the frequencies left trying to figure out what is missing. When the EQ returns to its off state, think of it as of frequencies’ boost.

What about synesthesia? The most primitive and obvious case of it, which you deal with here by training: you hear frequencies, and see different activated sliders, each having its position in space, plus highlighted numbers. But can you see/imagine frequency bands as different colors/textures/material types? Can you feel them? Can you smell them? Can you taste them? Try to note the slightest and subtlest body and mind reactions when listening to equalization examples, and focus on them for a moment.

Try different approaches. Find out, what works better for you in different situations. Stay as relaxed as possible while training. Take pauses. Do not torture your ears and brains too much. Train regularly, not long: 24 exercises per session may be enough. Try to build your personal timbre/frequency vocabulary through daily practice!

And, last but not least. Even the small recurring donation to the project not only helps to support and develop the software, but it is a great source of additional motivation for you to keep practicing!

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