Can You Hear This? The “Mosquito Ring tone” Test

I think it was 2007 when this “high pitched ring tone” craze kicked off – the idea being that older people couldn’t hear high-pitched frequencies, so younger people would put these high-pitched tones on their cell phones and they’d hear when their phone was ringing – or when they got a text message – but their teachers couldn’t. These same high-pitched tones would also be used by some businesses in an attempt to drive off younger people who were loitering in front of their establishments. I listened to one of these tones that I wasn’t supposed to be able to hear at my age, and I heard it just fine. I knew there was a scientific basis for this, but I figured since I could hear the tone my hearing was “perfect” – I’ve always gotten perfect hearing scores when I’ve had my hearing tested. I found a Web site today that shows how wrong I was about being able to hear tones I thought I could!

I cranked up my speakers and clicked on the preview buttons for each tone: I can hear the 16khz tone, but I can’t hear the 17khz tone or anything higher. I’m 34 years old, so the fact that I can hear the “30 and younger” tone means I have slightly better than normal hearing in terms of high-pitched frequencies (according to this scale at least). What about you? Where does your hearing drop off, and how does that relate to your age – are you better or worse than average? And if your hearing is worse than it should be, what band were you a roadie for in the ’80s? 😉

  • Cold Flame

    Too funny.

    I’m 28 and the “youngest” I can hear to is 17.4khz. I can’t hear 17.0khz though. I guess I’m only half as deaf as a normal 24 and younger person? lol.

  • mrozema

    I could hear 17KHz and below. 17.4KHz was inaudible.
    I guess that’s alright since I’m nearing 28.

  • OSUKid7

    I could hear 18khz and below… not 19khz though.

    I wonder if any studies have been done with age and hearing. Do I have any chance of protecting my hearing in these high frequency ranges as I age? And how about the safety of listening to these tones regularly? I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t stand hearing these “mosquitto tones” for more than a few seconds.

  • Well, I’m 31. I could hear the 24 and younger. I had a hard time, though, with the first 18 and under. Anything under that I couldn’t hear.