The Benefits of Extended-Range In-Ear Monitors

The Benefits of Extended-Range In-Ear Monitors

UE PREMIER in-ear monitors have a frequency range spanning 5 Hz - 40,000 Hz. Learn about the benefits of extended-range listening devices like UE PREMIER.

Humans have a hearing range of about 20 Hz - 20 kHz. Though that’s a bit of an oversimplification (hearing ranges vary widely from person to person), it’s generally accepted that most people can hear somewhat within that frequency range.

So, why did we design and create UE PREMIER in-ear monitors to accurately recreate frequencies from 5 Hz - 40 kHz? While we’d like to say “because we could,” the truth is listening devices that go beyond the range of human hearing are one of the keys to creating a truly exceptional and natural-sounding listening experience. And we’re not the only ones who think so.

We wouldn’t expect you to just take our word for it. Here are some of the reasons we built UE PREMIER with such a wide frequency range.

Improved Overall Performance

Before we talk about IEMs, let’s talk about cars.


According to Ferrari, their 812 Super has a maximum speed of up to 211 miles per hour. Even everyday consumer cars can easily hit speeds well above any posted speed limit. Most people who buy one will never max out their speedometers when they’re behind the wheel, so why are cars built to go so much faster?


Car manufacturers enable cars to go faster than you’ll ever need because it allows for more efficient engines. We don’t want to get too technical, but the idea is that more powerful engines mean better fuel efficiency and more pickup, because you don’t have to max your engine to merge onto the highway. Engines are more efficient in the middle of their operating range, rather than at the extremes. The same goes for in-ear monitors.


By building UE PREMIER to have an extended frequency range, they can more effectively and efficiently recreate that core band of 20 Hz - 20 kHz. The lowest lows and highest highs won’t crash into a wall—instead, they’ll have a bit of runway.


High-End Studio Gear Can Recreate Extended Frequencies


For years, producers and sound engineers have enjoyed gear that can accurately reproduce extended frequencies, especially high frequencies above 20 kHz. For example, Focal’s Trio6 Be studio monitors reach up to 40 kHz in 3-way mode, just like UE PREMIER. Another example is the Audient One iD14 audio interface, which has a frequency response of ±0.5dB from 10 Hz to 40 kHz.


That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t mean much if there weren’t also microphones that can capture those extended frequencies. One example is the Earthworks QTC40 small-diaphragm condenser microphone. This microphone has a frequency response of 9 Hz to 40 kHz and is especially popular among sound designers.


The bottom line is that microphones and mixing consoles can capture these extended frequencies, and high-end studio gear can already reproduce them. UE PREMIER is the newest tool for musicians, engineers, and producers who want the most faithful recreation of sound possible, and the only one they can use on the go.


Sound Engineers Work With Extended Range Frequencies


Sound engineers understand the importance of extended frequencies. If frequencies beyond human hearing didn’t matter, then every recording engineer would drop a bandpass filter from 20 Hz - 20,000 Hz without worrying about lessening the quality. That bandpass filter would remove everything outside of the range of human hearing from the final recording. Instead, many engineers favor a wider frequency range for mixing and mastering because it enables the recreation of harmonics and overtones—more on that later.


While it’s true that sub-low and ultra-high frequencies can cause trouble in the recording process, such as a boomy low-end, any frequency can be problematic within the recording as a whole. While some engineers will employ a high-pass filter in an attempt to fix muddy low-end, many experienced engineers won't remove frequencies via a high-pass or low-pass filter (filtering out the low and high sounds, respectively) unless they’re causing problems. Instead, they’ll pinpoint problem frequencies and drop them in the mix one at a time.


High Frequencies Make Music Sound More Natural


Though humans can’t hear above 20 kHz, we can experience higher frequencies. The most important example is harmonics and overtones and how they affect our perception of music.

When a piano plays the middle A on a keyboard its fundamental frequency is 440 Hz. But this isn’t the only frequency that resonates. You also get overtones, which is any resonant frequency above that fundamental note, and harmonics, in which the frequencies are integral multiples of the fundamental frequency (e.g., 880 Hz and so on, in the case of middle A). All of these frequencies combine to create what we recognize as a piano striking that note vs. a guitar plucking it. If you take away overtones and harmonics, notes will sound the same regardless of the instrument.


By having a wider frequency range, we can better replicate all the natural frequencies created when we hear music—not just the fundamental frequencies but the overtones and harmonics as well. This is what makes music sound more lifelike when compared to limited-frequency devices. In fact, by increasing the frequency range of UE PREMIER to 40 kHz, we can actively reproduce the harmonic frequencies and overtones from even the highest notes your ears can detect. 


These higher frequencies aren’t rare—they occur often in music. According to There's Life Above 20 Kilohertz! A Survey of Musical Instrument Spectra to 102.4 KHz by James Boyk, “At least one member of each instrument family (strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) produces energy to 40 kHz or above.” For example, the harmonics of a violin or oboe will exceed 40 kHz, a muted trumpet will reach 80 kHz and a cymbal crash was recorded at 100 kHz. That means that even a jazz trio could run across most of the frequency spectrum of a listening device like UE PREMIER.

Low Frequencies Make You Move


While high frequencies add to the perception of music, low frequencies are something we feel. If you’ve ever been to a hip-hop or EDM show, you know that lows can physically move you—and the whole building, for that matter. 


As Science News Explores puts it, “Our bodies are loaded with receptors — especially in the skin — that sense movement. They detect touch. They also can sense air vibrations caused by loud sounds.” In other words, even if we can’t hear low frequencies, we can feel them. 


This is more obvious at a big show where speakers are pushing air, but it’s also apparent with in-ear monitors like UE PREMIER. That’s because of both the increased surface contact from the custom fit of UE PREMIER and the fibers in your ear that perceive low-end vibrations (similar to the skin on your arm).


Frequencies below human hearing have also been shown to increase people’s enjoyment of music. Findings from the study “Feel the bass: Music presented to tactile and auditory modalities increases aesthetic appreciation and body movement” suggest that feeling low frequencies in the body promotes movement, in other words, dancing. Another study titled “Undetectable very-low-frequency sound increases dancing at a live concert” exposed an audience to very-low-frequency speakers, toggling those low frequencies on and off. They also found that the audience danced and moved more when the frequencies—which were below the threshold of human hearing—were present

Extended Frequencies Matter in Music


Ultimately, the music you listen to most likely already has frequencies outside the range of human hearing—you just need the right equipment to recreate them so you can enjoy a more natural sound.

If you’re ready to explore a new dimension of sound, UE PREMIER is available now. Loaded with an astounding 21 drivers and a five-way crossover, UE PREMIER are our most nuanced and versatile in-ear monitors yet. Whether you’re recording or mixing in a studio, performing live or enjoying your favorite music with professional sound quality, UE PREMIER sets a new gold standard for exceptional audio.

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