Sound is a vibration that propagates as a mechanical wave of pressure and displacement, through some medium (such as air or water). Sometimes sound refers to only those vibrations with frequencies that are within the range of hearing for humans or for a particular animal.
- 1 Acoustics
- 2 Physics of sound
- 3 Perception of sound
- 4 Sound pressure level
- 5 Equipment for dealing with sound
- 6 Sound measurement
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustical engineering may be called an acoustic engineer. (Not to be confused with an audio engineer.) The application of acoustics can be seen in almost all aspects of modern society, subdisciplines include: aeroacoustics, audio signal processing, architectural acoustics, bioacoustics, electroacoustics, environmental noise, musical acoustics, noise control, psychoacoustics, speech, ultrasound, underwater acoustics and vibration.
Physics of sound
Propagation of sound
Sound propagates through compressible media such as air, water and solids as longitudinal waves and also as a transverse waves in solids (see Longitudinal and transverse waves, below). The sound waves are generated by a sound source, such as the vibrating diaphragm of a stereo speaker. The sound source creates vibrations in the surrounding medium. As the source continues to vibrate the medium, the vibrations propagate away from the source at the speed of sound, thus forming the sound wave. At a fixed distance from the source, the pressure, velocity, and displacement of the medium vary in time. At an instant in time, the pressure, velocity, and displacement vary in space. Note that the particles of the medium do not travel with the sound wave. This is intuitively obvious for a solid, and the same is true for liquids and gases (that is, the vibrations of particles in the gas or liquid transport the vibrations, while the average position of the particles over time does not change). During propagation, waves can be reflected, refracted, or attenuated by the medium.
The behavior of sound propagation is generally affected by three things:
- A relationship between density and pressure. This relationship, affected by temperature, determines the speed of sound within the medium.
- The propagation is also affected by the motion of the medium itself. For example, sound moving through wind. Independent of the motion of sound through the medium, if the medium is moving, the sound is further transported.
- The viscosity of the medium also affects the motion of sound waves. It determines the rate at which sound is attenuated. For many media, such as air or water, attenuation due to viscosity is negligible.
When sound is moving through a medium that does not have constant physical properties, it may be refracted (either dispersed or focused).
The mechanical vibrations that can be interpreted as sound are able to travel through all forms of matter: gases, liquids, solids, and plasmas. The matter that supports the sound is called the medium. Sound cannot travel through a vacuum.
Longitudinal and transverse waves
Sound is transmitted through gases, plasma, and liquids as longitudinal waves, also called compression waves. Through solids, however, it can be transmitted as both longitudinal waves and transverse waves. Longitudinal sound waves are waves of alternating pressure deviations from the equilibrium pressure, causing local regions of compression and rarefaction, while transverse waves (in solids) are waves of alternating shear stress at right angle to the direction of propagation.
The energy carried by an oscillating sound wave converts back and forth between the potential energy of the extra compression (in case of longitudinal waves) or lateral displacement strain (in case of transverse waves) of the matter, and the kinetic energy of the displacement velocity of particles of the medium.
Sound wave properties and characteristics
- Frequency, or its inverse, the period
- Sound pressure
- Sound intensity
- Speed of sound
Sound that is perceptible by humans has frequencies from about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. In air at standard temperature and pressure, the corresponding wavelengths of sound waves range from 17 m to 17 mm. Sometimes speed and direction are combined as a velocity vector; wavenumber and direction are combined as a wave vector.
Speed of sound
The speed of sound depends on the medium the waves pass through and is a fundamental property of the material. The first significant effort towards developing a formula to measure the speed of sound was made by Newton. He believed that the speed of sound in a particular substance was equal to the square root of the pressure acting on it (STP) divided by its density.
This was later proved wrong when found to incorrectly derive the speed. French mathematician Laplace corrected the formula by deducing that the phenomenon of sound travelling is not isothermal, as believed by Newton, but adiabatic. He added another factor to the equation-gamma-and multiplied to , thus coming up with the equation . Since the final equation came up to be which is also known as the Newton-Laplace equation. In this equation, K = elastic modulus, c = velocity of sound, and = density. Thus, the speed of sound is proportional to the square root of the ratio of the elastic modulus (stiffness) of the medium to its density.
Those physical properties and the speed of sound change with ambient conditions. For example, the speed of sound in gases depends on temperature. In 20 °C (68 °F) air at sea level, the speed of sound is approximately 343 m/s (1,230 km/h; 767 mph) using the formula "v = (331 + 0.6 T) m/s". In fresh water, also at 20 °C, the speed of sound is approximately 1,482 m/s (5,335 km/h; 3,315 mph). In steel, the speed of sound is about 5,960 m/s (21,460 km/h; 13,330 mph). The speed of sound is also slightly sensitive (a second-order anharmonic effect) to the sound amplitude, which means that there are nonlinear propagation effects, such as the production of harmonics and mixed tones not present in the original sound (see parametric array).
Perception of sound
The perception of sound in any organism is limited to a certain range of frequencies. For humans, hearing is normally limited to frequencies between about 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz (20 kHz), although these limits are not definite. The upper limit generally decreases with age. Other species have a different range of hearing. For example, dogs can perceive vibrations higher than 20 kHz, but are deaf to anything below 40 Hz. As a signal perceived by one of the major senses, sound is used by many species for detecting danger, navigation, predation, and communication. Earth's atmosphere, water, and virtually any physical phenomenon, such as fire, rain, wind, surf, or earthquake, produces (and is characterized by) its unique sounds. Many species, such as frogs, birds, marine and terrestrial mammals, have also developed special organs to produce sound. In some species, these produce song and speech. Furthermore, humans have developed culture and technology (such as music, telephone and radio) that allows them to generate, record, transmit, and broadcast sound. The scientific study of human sound perception is known as psychoacoustics.
Noise is a term often used to refer to an unwanted sound. In science and engineering, noise is an undesirable component that obscures a wanted signal.
Sound pressure level
|Sound pressure p, SPL|
|Particle velocity v, SVL|
|Particle displacement ξ|
|Sound intensity I, SIL|
|Sound power Pac|
|Sound power level SWL|
|Sound exposure E|
|Sound exposure level SEL|
|Sound energy density E|
|Sound energy flux q|
|Acoustic impedance Z|
|Speed of sound|
|Audio frequency AF
Sound pressure is the difference, in a given medium, between average local pressure and the pressure in the sound wave. A square of this difference (i.e., a square of the deviation from the equilibrium pressure) is usually averaged over time and/or space, and a square root of this average provides a root mean square (RMS) value. For example, 1 Pa RMS sound pressure (94 dBSPL) in atmospheric air implies that the actual pressure in the sound wave oscillates between (1 atm Pa) and (1 atm Pa), that is between 101323.6 and 101326.4 Pa. As the human ear can detect sounds with a wide range of amplitudes, sound pressure is often measured as a level on a logarithmic decibel scale. The sound pressure level (SPL) or Lp is defined as
- where p is the root-mean-square sound pressure and is a reference sound pressure. Commonly used reference sound pressures, defined in the standard ANSI S1.1-1994, are 20 µPa in air and 1 µPa in water. Without a specified reference sound pressure, a value expressed in decibels cannot represent a sound pressure level.
Since the human ear does not have a flat spectral response, sound pressures are often frequency weighted so that the measured level matches perceived levels more closely. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has defined several weighting schemes. A-weighting attempts to match the response of the human ear to noise and A-weighted sound pressure levels are labeled dBA. C-weighting is used to measure peak levels.
Equipment for dealing with sound
Equipment for outputing or generating : musical instrument, sound box, hearing phones, sonar systems, sound reproduction, and broadcasting equipment. Many of these use electro-acoustic transducers for input : microphones .
- Decibel, Sone, mel, Phon, Hertz
- Sound pressure level, Sound pressure
- Particle velocity, Acoustic velocity
- Particle displacement, Particle amplitude, Particle acceleration
- Sound power, Acoustic power, Sound power level
- Sound energy flux
- Sound intensity, Acoustic intensity, Sound intensity level
- Acoustic impedance, Sound impedance, Characteristic impedance
- Speed of sound, Amplitude
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2000. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- Acoustical Society of America. "PACS 2010 Regular Edition—Acoustics Appendix". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- APOD: 19 August 2007 – A Sonic Boom
- The Soundry: The Physics of Sound
- Olson, Harry F. Autor (1967). Music, Physics and Engineering. ISBN 9780486217697.
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- Sounds Amazing; a KS3/4 learning resource for sound and waves
- HyperPhysics: Sound and Hearing
- Introduction to the Physics of Sound
- Hearing curves and on-line hearing test
- Audio for the 21st Century
- Conversion of sound units and levels
- Sound calculations
- Audio Check: a free collection of audio tests and test tones playable on-line
- More Sounds Amazing; a sixth-form learning resource about sound waves