The Knowledge of Sound

- Aug 29, 2018-

Sound is a form of energy passing through a gas or liquid medium. Understanding sound is in the realm of physics.

There are two main measurements in sound: frequency and decibels.

Frequency is responsible for the quality of sound in a speaker; decibels measure the loudness of the speaker.

Frequency: Humans can hear audio from 20 - 20,000 Hertz. Hertz is a measure of cycles per second. Sound is a wave ranging from 0 level of energy to infinity.

A middle ā€œCā€ tone on an instrument is not a solid constant level of energy is it sounds to our ears; it is a wave which peaks every 278 times per second.

The human ear does not hear all frequencies with the same sensitivity. It is most sensitive to the 2000 - 4000 Hz range. So a 100 dB (loudness level) sound at 20 Hz will not damage the ear as much as a sound at 3000 Hz.

Most sounds fall in the lower range of our audible frequency range, however sounds at 16,000 or 20,000 Hz are important. These upper frequencies give us other information about a sound, such as the environment of the sound. If someone is speaking in a small room or auditorium we can tell thanks to the high frequencies.

Decibels: Decibels is a logarithmic unit, which means that each unit indicates an increase in power by x10. The bel in decibel originates from telecommunications pioneer Alexander Graham Bell. The need to measure sound efficiency in gave rise to the unit in 1923.

0 dB is set at .0002 microbar (pressure). 120 dB is enough to cause permanent damage to the human ear; however the ear will be more easily damaged at the 2-4 kHz range. This aspect of the human body being more sensitive to certain frequencies is related to the species evolution. A baby's cry is located in the 4-5 kHz range. We are programed to be sensitive to a baby's cry and human's scream generated by our naturally limited vocal chords.

 

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