I have a speech file that was recorded with a sampling frequency of 8kHz. I read the file in Matlab as [x,fs,nbits]=wavread('speech.wav). Now I play the file in Matlab using soundsc(x,fs). But if I use the command soundsc(x,fs/2) and soundsc(x,2*fs) the speech changes. What is the reason?

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    $\begingroup$ Hint: consider a single tone, e. g. a pure sine wave with 500 kHz. How does the resampled signal at fs/2 and 2*fs look like, what's its frequency? $\endgroup$
    – Deve
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 9:04
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    $\begingroup$ @guest: Congratulations, You've just discovered how "Alvin and Chipmunks" songs were created - this is most basic pitch-shifting method ;) $\endgroup$
    – jojeck
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


The soundsc command will playback $f_s$ samples per second. Playing back at a faster rate than you recorded will increase the pitch of the speech. Playing back at a lower sample rate will reduce the pitch.

If you prefer to think in the frequency domain; all the information is scaled on the frequency axis with relation to the change in $f_s$. Reducing fs squashes the information on the frequency axis and increasing $f_s$ will stretch the information on the frequency axis.


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