Difference Between Pitch and Volume

Pitch vs Volume

Loudness and Pitch are characteristics of sounds. Loudness refers to the magnitude of the sound heard, and pitch is related to the frequency of the sound. Loudness, in common terms, is referred as the volume. Pitch and volume are parts of music and sound engineering vernacular, but the term loudness is used in physics.


Pitch is the perception of the highness or the lowness of the sound/tone. It is strongly related to the frequency of the sound, but not exclusively. Loudness also affects the pitch. Up to 1000 Hz (1 kHz), the increment in the loudness decreases the pitch and, in the range 1000-3000 Hz (1-3 kHz), the loudness has no effect on the pitch. Beyond 3000 Hz (3 kHz) the increase in the loudness causes and increment in the pitch. High pitch sounds carry a sharp penetrating sound while low pitch sounds carry heavy sound. For example, a tweeting bird makes a high pitch noise while an owl makes a low pitch noise.

Unit of measurement of pitch is mels.

Loudness (Volume)

Loudness is a subjective quantity of the sound. It is the physical perception of the intensity of sound. It can also be described as the attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which sounds can be ordered on a scale extending from quiet to loud. Sound intensity is mistakenly referred to as the volume (loudness), but the relationship between loudness and sound intensity is complex and, therefore, often confusing.

Loudness is also affected by frequency because the human ear perceives sound intensities at different frequencies differently. Duration is also a factor of loudness. Human ear perceives long bursts of sound louder than the short bursts of sounds. This is due to the nature of the hearing mechanism of the ear. Loudness increases for the first .2 seconds then stays unchanged until the source stops.

Relative loudness is generally measured based on the assumption of proportionality to the logarithm of sound intensity, i.e. the sound intensity level.

Unit of measurement of loudness is sone and, for the loudness level, it is phon.

What is the difference between Volume and Pitch?

• Volume is a relative measure of a sound, which can be arranged from the lowest to the highest with respect to auditory sensation. The lowest possible value is quiet.

• Pitch is the lowness or the highness of the sound which is determined by the frequency of the noise. Loudness is affected by the pitch, and vice versa.

• Technically, volume is referred to as the loudness, and loudness is measured in sones. The loudness level is measured in phons, whereas the pitch is measured in mels.

• High pitch noises penetrate sharp while low pitch noises are heavy and smooth, while higher volume indicates larger loudness, and lower volume indicates less loudness.

• Pitch is mainly determined by the frequency of the sound while the volume (loudness) is determined by the amplitude of the sound wave.