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Sound waves are a type of power

Sound waves are a type of power

We are surrounded by sound waves. Sound has the power to communicate ideas, scare us, entertain us, even help us fall in love.

Sound waves are a kind of energy that is launched when an object vibrates. These waves travel through a medium like air or water. When they reach your eardrum, the brain translates the pressure waves into words or music.

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Benefiting from understanding sound

Musicians and content creators need knowledge of frequencies and amplitude in their home recording set-ups to ensure their voice sounds rich and clear. Understanding sound can help them choose microphones best suited and help to set up the room to reflect or dampen sounds.

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Sound frequency

Sound frequency

The shape of waves is rolling peaks and valleys. If the wave moves faster, the peaks and valleys form closer together. If it moves slower, the waves spread out.

  • The speed of a sound wave - how fast the waves move from peak to trough - is called frequency, but we also know it as pitch. We measure sound frequency in hertz (Hz), which is the cycles per second.
  • Understanding frequencies is useful. For example, you can tune an instrument - middle C on the piano is tuned to the frequency of 261.63 Hz.

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Other useful sound terms

Other useful sound terms

  • Amplitude (amps) describes the height of the sound waves and gets measured in decibels (dB).
  • Timbre is the perceived sound quality. You can distinguish the unique harmonics of timbre by the combination of notes in a chord.
  • Envelopes determine how a sound's amplitude changes over time. It can be quick and loud, like a door slamming, or it can slowly increase in volume, like a cello's note.

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The speed of sound

Sound must travel through a medium like water, air or even sand. It means you will never hear an explosion in a vacuum.

The speed of sound, or the sound's velocity, differs depending on how dense the medium is it's moving through. Generally, the speed of sound is 1,127 feet per second or 767.54 miles per hour.

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