As mentioned previously, coonhounds are scent hounds, dogs that help humans hunt by using their amazing sense of smell; the scent hound's sense of smell is superior to most other types of canines. They work very differently than sight hounds, which run down their prey using their vision and speed. Coonhounds are special types of hounds; they were purposely bred to handle game in the United States, specifically in the southern US. Dogs were needed that could track animals that took to the trees, as raccoons, bears and mountain lions often did and do. Scent hounds might have a sense of smell superior to that of other dogs, but coonhounds have a sense of smell superior to traditional scent hounds.
It's that superior sense of smell that makes coonhounds such efficient hunters; they also have quite a sense of intelligence and independence, so much so that their handlers release them to track prey on their own. While nowadays some handlers often use electronic devices to keep track of their dogs, years ago hunters had to rely solely on the barking of their dogs to keep them informed of where the action was. This is why scent hounds were bred to have very deep and booming voices and characteristic long, drawn-out barks, called bays; these vocalizations carry very far and alert hunters to the position of their dogs. Moreover, scent hounds would get very vocal when they finally picked up a scent and started off on the chase; baying dogs would let the hunter know that his dogs were hot on the trail of their prey.
When breeders developed coonhounds, their aim was essentially to improve on the characteristics of the traditional scent hounds, so as to allow their dogs to hunt more efficiently on American terrain. This improvement also effected the vocalizations of coonhounds. If traditional scent hounds had loud barks, coonhounds had VERY loud barks. The Redbone is no exception; indeed, if you're looking for a quiet peaceful dog that won't disturb you or your neighbors, scratch the Redbone from your list. Their barks can become insistent and nerve-wracking if not properly trained. Coonhounds in general also have a relatively large repertoire of vocalizations, as they've been bred and traditionally trained to employ different types and frequencies of bark depending on what's going on during the hunt. The bark a coonhound lets out when he's on the trail of a hunted animal is much different than the distinctive baying he lets out when he's finally got his critter in a tree. Some coonhounds have very particular vocalizations, called chops barks, which are short, rapid barks; even these dogs will change to a different type of chop bark, usually faster and steadier, once they've cornered their prey.
Redbones will employ their large vocabulary around the house as well, so be ready for a vocal dog if you're planning on bringing home a Redbone Coonhound. Though many people find coonhound vocalizations annoying, the majority of people agree that coonhounds, and especially Redbones, have very melodious voices, more so than other scent hounds. Those who have heard Redbones vocalize have characterized their voices as very pleasant and sweet; some who have heard them during nite hunts have actually called them haunting.