The treble sound refers to actual tones with which the range or frequency is at the higher range of human’s natural hearing capacity. Simply said, in music, this refers to the “high notes”. The use of treble clef shows the notation of the notes. Some examples of produced treble sounds are those that come from piccolos, guitar tones, and others.
Treble literally means the highest portion of a composition which has three parts. In fact, this is where the term ‘treble’ came from, from the Latin word “triplum”. It is sound that is characterized by a sound that has a very high pitch, as well as tone that belongs to the higher part of the record. The frequencies usually range from 2.048 kHz to 16.384.
Treble sound is usually considered as the counterpart of the bass sound. Treble control is often used in reproducing sound, particularly in changing treble note volume, in relation to sound belonging to the bass and middle frequency ranges.
Treble and Music Reproduction
Now that were done with the more technical details about treble, let’s look into its role in actual music reproduction. As a matter of fact, several great audio production fail to musically be satisfying due to poor performance of the treble sound. This means that there are some characteristics of the treble sound that needs to be avoided.
For example, as a musician, or an audio technician, you would want to avoid characteristic that are described by terms such as tizzy, bright, aggressive, forward, edgy, brittle, hard, white, dry, metallic, wiry, screechy, sterile, grainy and analytical. The occurrence of these adjectives used to describe the sound is an evidence of the pervasiveness of the problem related to treble sound.
If a certain product comes with an obvious treble to it, it has the tendency to overstate the sounds which are of high frequencies. Examples of this include excessive sibilance, overemphasized cymbals, as well as thin sounding violins. An output that comes with too apparent treble sound is often described as bright.
Brightness in a treble sound is usually prominent within the so-called treble region, usually between the range of 3kHz and 6 kHz. This treble brightness may be a result of an increase in the frequency response common in loudspeakers, or in a poor electronic design. A lot of CD players, as well as solid-state amplifiers which measure a flat, or accurate frequency response still add treble prominence.
Other Description of Tizzy Treble
When treble is described as ‘tizzy’, it means that the sound belongs to the higher treble frequency, that is, belonging to the 6kHz to 10kHz range. This is usually characterized by the whitening of the sound. Tizzy cymbals usually emphasize on the higher harmonics, with the air and sizzle riding over the primary sound of cymbal. This tizziness characteristic gives the symbol its “ssssss” sound, as compared to the common “ssshhh” sound.
On the other hand, being ‘forward’, when applied to treble sound, is quite similar to being ‘bright’. Both of these characteristic describe the presence of too much treble. However, a forward treble has the tendency to be lacking in air and space, and overall dry. Several terms already presented above come with meanings that are virtually identical.
For example, if a treble is described as ‘metallic’, ‘brittle’, and ‘hard’, it only means a treble characteristic which is unpleasant, similar to that of metal that is stuck. As a matter of fact, this very unique harmonic structure that is created out of the metal on metal impact is quite similar to the introduced distortion by a solid power amplifier.
Annoying Treble Characteristics
Graininess is another very annoying treble characteristic. A ‘grainy’ description means that the treble texture is overlaid by coarseness. This is particularly noticeable on solo violins, flute, massed violins as well as female voice. On flute, this treble grain is often recognizable as either fuzzy or rough sound which seems to be on top of the dynamic envelope of a flute.
Grain creates violin sound as though they are played using hacksaw blades, instead of actual bows. Even though this representation may seem exaggerated, but it actually convey the idea of having a coarse texture coupled by some grains. One of the most common problem source include tweeters in loudspeakers, digital source components, completely reflective audio rooms, power amplifiers, preamplifiers, dirty AC power sources, cables, and others.
There are some products that have the tendency to make the treble sound less prominent and softer compared to live music. This type of characteristic is usually incorporated into the product, with the goal of either compensating for the flaws of treble with other system components, or in order to make the sound palatable to the ears.
Best Treble Presentation
The best presentation of treble sound is one which sounds similar to real music. This means that it is one with a lot of energy. Cymbals have the tendency to sound aggressive, lacking grainy, synthetic and dry characteristics. These are ones that we do not hear in live music, and should not be heard in reproduced music.
More importantly, treble sound should be serve as an integral part of music, and not just a detached noise. If a certain component comes with a colored treble presentation, it is less musically objectionable in case there is an error on smoothness instead of being bright. Understanding this side of the treble sound helps any musician to create the perfect sound.