Masking Effect & Audibility

The masking effect is a phenomenon in which the presence of one sound (the masker) can reduce the audibility of another sound (the masked sound).
In acoustics, this effect is particularly relevant in the context of low-frequency sounds and distortion audibility.

Key Points:

Here is how it mask from a fundamental:


We also need to couple this to ear sensitivity according to frequency and SPL (aka volume level) for audibility purpose :

ears sensitity
The bottom red line represent the sensitivity threshold of the human ear.


If you boost the bass in your music system, you may notice that the vocals become less clear. This is because the boosted bass is masking the higher-frequency vocals.

Practical Implications:

The masking effect is an important consideration in audio engineering and music production. It can be used to create specific effects, such as a sense of depth or power. However, it can also be a source of problems, such as a loss of clarity or detail.

To mitigate the masking effect:


Do not try to correct ear sensitivity, the brain is adapted to ear sensitivity curve, you will unbalance and risk to damage your internal ears in high frequency (hearing loss and tinitus).

A speaker mus be flat at 30/60cm as see here : how to implement my horn and my speaker

And the curve must respect psyckoacoustics rule: