What is the difference between negative and positive sound frequencies?


What do the frequencies on either side of the spectrum do and how should I know if I want my bass/ mid/ treble in the negative or positive?

Edit: Thank you for the answers. I realized that my question wasn’t very clear because I wasn’t too sure what exactly it is I was looking for. I did get the answer that I was looking for though 🙂

In: 0

zero is speaker at rest, reference, balanced sound

volume starts from zero to positive number

in this case negative or positive is tuning the sound characteristic to less/more bass/mid/treble

Frequencies are how often (or frequent!) something occurs. For sound, this would be how often a single wave is produced. Sound waves are like wiggly air, and a wave is considered to be one full “wiggle,” or one cycle between shaking right, returning, then left and returning to start before shaking right again.

Because of this, frequency cannot be negative. Either 0 or some positive amount of wiggle is happening when sound is produced.

So to answer the question, you’d want to have all of them positive unless you’re ready to collapse reality. If you’re asking for EQ recommendations, usually nowadays audio engineers do a good job of having that sorted from the get go, but can’t go wrong with a little extra bass!

The frequencies aren’t negative but some sound systems let you adjust the strength of sounds at some frequency ranges to make then more loud or quiet. The amount of adjustment is shown using numbers with zero meaning no change, positive numbers meaning more loud, and negative numbers meaning more quiet.

For relatively small numbers of settings, like bass, mid and treble controls, your choice is mostly down to personal preference, but start from all zero as the default. Sophisticated systems can have separate controls for up to around 20 different frequency bands but setting all those is often done based on measurements of how the system and the listening environment are affecting the sound. If your speakers or room are making a particular frequency sound too quiet then you can turn up its control to compensate.

What you are referring to is not actually “negative frequency,” but a process called “equalization” (or EQ) to balance (or equalize!) the perceived volume of a given frequency or range of frequencies.

“Going negative” on a given set of frequencies (like treble or bass) is cutting the volume of those frequencies by a given value, usually expressed in decibels.

For example, “Bass +6” would be adding 6 decibels to the bass frequencies (called boosting), and “Treble -3” would be removing (or cutting) the treble frequencies by 3 decibels.