|Sound pressure p, SPL|
|Particle velocity v, SVL|
|Particle displacement ξ|
|Sound intensity I, SIL|
|Sound power Pac|
|Sound power level SWL|
|Sound energy density E|
|Sound energy flux q|
|Acoustic impedance Z|
|Speed of sound c|
|Audio frequency AF
||This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. (February 2009)|
Acoustic impedance indicates how much sound pressure is generated by the vibration of molecules of a particular acoustic medium at a given frequency. Acoustic impedance Z (or sound impedance) is frequency (f) dependent. It is very useful, for example, for describing the behaviour of musical wind instruments. Mathematically, it is the sound pressure p divided by the particle velocity v and the surface area S, through which an acoustic wave of frequency f propagates. If the impedance is calculated for a range of excitation frequencies the result is an impedance curve. Planar, single-frequency traveling waves have acoustic impedances equal to the characteristic impedance divided by the surface area, where the characteristic impedance is the product of longitudinal wave velocity and density of the medium. Acoustic impedance can be expressed in either its constituent units (pressure per velocity per area) or in rayls per square meter.
Note that sometimes vS is referred to as the volume velocity.
where D is the sound wave velocity.
Distinction has to be made between:
- the characteristic acoustic impedance of a medium, usually air (compare with characteristic impedance in transmission lines).
- the impedance of an acoustic component, like a wave conductor, a resonance chamber, a muffler or an organ pipe.
Characteristic acoustic impedance 
The characteristic (acoustic) impedance of a medium is an inherent property of a medium:
Here is the characteristic impedance, measured in Rayls, and and are the density and speed of sound in the unperturbed medium (i.e. when there are no sound waves travelling in it).
In a viscous medium, there will be a phase difference between the pressure and velocity, so the specific acoustic impedance will be different from the characteristic acoustic impedance .
The characteristic impedance of air at room temperature is about 415 Pa·s/m or N·s/m³. By comparison the sound speed and density of water are much higher, resulting in an impedance of 1.5 MPa·s/m, about 3400 times higher. This differences leads to important differences between room acoustics or atmospheric acoustics on the one hand, and underwater acoustics on the other.
|Temperature T in °C||Speed of sound c in m·s−1||Density of air ρ in kg·m−3||Acoustic impedance Z in N·s·m−3|
Specific impedance of acoustic components 
The specific acoustic impedance of an acoustic component (in Rayls, i.e. Pa·s/m or N·s/m3) is the ratio of sound pressure to particle velocity at its connection point. Specific acoustic impedance is defined as:
where and are the specific acoustic impedance, pressure and particle velocity phasors, is the position and is the frequency. The phasors are used because, in general, the different terms will not be in phase.
If they are in phase, the following equations hold:
where is the sound intensity (W/m²).
Complex impedance 
In general, a phase relation exists between the pressure and the matter velocity. The complex impedance is defined as
- R is the resistive part, and
- X is the reactive part of the impedance
The resistive part represents the energy transfer of an acoustic wave. The pressure and motion are in phase, so work is done on the medium ahead of the wave.
The reactive part represents pressure that is out of phase with the motion and causes no average energy transfer. For example, a closed bulb connected to an organ pipe will have air moving into it and pressure, but they are out of phase so no net energy is transmitted into it. While the pressure rises, air moves in, and while it falls, it moves out, but the average pressure when the air moves in is the same as that when it moves out, so the power flows back and forth but with no time averaged energy transfer. The electrical analogy for this is a capacitor connected across a power line. Current flows through the capacitor but it is out of phase with the voltage, so no net power is transmitted into it.
The phase of the impedance is then given by