View Full Version : How Many Cents Difference Can You Hear?

01-23-2010, 03:32 AM
After hearing so many people talk about 5 cents difference in intonation, I finally decide to look up what they were talking about. This is an interesting article on the measurement of "cents" in tone. At the bottom are three sound samples of 1 cent, 5 cents, and 10 cents difference. I must admit I can't really tell the difference, which may be bad for my audience, and good for me (since I can play a crap instrument and not know the difference).


It would be interesting to know how many of you can hear a 5 or 10 cent difference.

01-23-2010, 03:47 AM
Cool thread. I can hear the 5 (6, actually) and 10 cent differences.

01-23-2010, 03:59 AM
I can hear a difference, but it is SO close! And, knowing me, if I was hearing two people singing, and one was 5 cents sharp, I'd probably tell the other one who was dead on that they were just under pitch. =/

01-23-2010, 04:00 AM
I can't hear any difference until the two notes play simultaneously. I'm not too concerned.

01-23-2010, 04:01 AM
I can also hear the 6 and 10 cent differences, but I hear no difference in the 1 cent sound sample.

01-23-2010, 04:14 AM
I can't hear any difference until the two notes play simultaneously. I'm not too concerned.

I can hear the 10 cent when they are played together, but not alone. Maybe after a few beers :)

01-23-2010, 04:15 AM
I can hear the 10 cent difference, and I hear the dissonance when the 6 cent notes are played together. That's similar to how I know when my uke is out of tune: I hear it when I play chords, not individual notes.

01-23-2010, 08:51 AM
I can hear the 6 cent one when the two are played together, and I can hear the 10 cent ones separately. But honestly, if I wasn't paying reeeeeally close attention, I think the difference would have been lost on me. I'd just have assumed I gave you the wrong change or something. :D

01-23-2010, 09:01 AM
I can hear the difference on all the simultaneous ones, but only the 10 cent one when the tones are played separately, not the 1 or 6.

Pete Beardsley
01-23-2010, 12:35 PM
I can't hear any difference until the two notes play simultaneously ..........

Me too. And even then I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't been told to listen out for it!

01-23-2010, 01:13 PM
... hear what?

01-23-2010, 01:52 PM
Its hard for me to tell the difereence it one uke cost 50 cents and the other cost 75 cents but i do hear the difference when it is 20,000 vs 200,000 cents......hey wait a minute we are talking cents Am I making sense....I sense I missed the point......maybe how many points?

01-23-2010, 02:22 PM
Very interesting thread.

Just my 2 cents.


01-23-2010, 05:47 PM
The simultaneous playing of the notes does highlight the difference. I know if I tune by fretting I never get it quite right I always have to go back and play the same noes on different strings to verify and usually adjust. I am sensitive to this because I also play the 12 string G word and being a little off can be disastrous.

01-28-2010, 08:26 AM
A bit late to thread, but anyhow...

I cannot hear the 1c or 6c differences when played on single notes, but played together the resulting beat is noticeable on both. The 1c sound clip on wiki is a bit short to get the full effect.
The 10c difference is detectable on individual notes, but I don't think I'd necessarily catch it while playing.

Instead of testing C vs. C+1c it would be interesting to compare slightly de-tuned intervals, e.g. C and E+1c (a major third). My guess is this harder to detect even when the two notes are played together.

After struggling with poor quality friction tuners I love the geared ones.

01-28-2010, 09:26 AM
i can tell with all of them, the first one i can tell when they are together, and the rest i can hear a difference when they are played seperatley

01-28-2010, 02:03 PM
I can't hear the 1, 6, or 10 cents when played individually. I can hear the 10 cent when played together...