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The Art Behind The Amplification Of Sound | Touchstone Words

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The Art Behind the Amplification of Sound

By Shane Staret on 2018-06-14

Sound is actually really cool. Have you ever heard of auditory illusions? Essentially, they are when a sound is heard differently from what the actual sound waves would suggest. This could be due to a number of things, including visual cues that make you think you have heard a certain sound or word, when really you haven’t.

But, what I think is even more amazing about sound is how it is actually produced, stored, and then changed. It almost seems magical at first, but just like (mostly) everything else, it can be explained through math and physics. In reality, sound is just an energy wave that can travel through some liquids, solids, and gases. So, if we can listen to a bunch of different waves and determine the frequency or wavelength of each, then we can copy the sound and play it back. From there, we can increase the frequency (or the pitch of the sound) by lowering the wavelength that gets played back and we can even change the volume by changing the amplitude of each wave. By increasing the amplitude and effectively making the wave “taller”, we cause the sound to be louder, whereas making the sound softer can be achieved by making the height of the waves shorter. The reason why this works is that you effectively change the amount of energy that each wave carries, which our ears register as being a change in the volume of the sound.

Interestingly though, amplifying sound so it sounds louder or decreasing the volume so it sounds softer is absolutely not the same for everyone. You probably are aware of the fact that as you get older, your hearing starts to go because of damage that has been done to your ears. The range of frequencies that you can hear and the volume at which you hear them can change greatly throughout your lifetime. Even people of the same age with similar experiences and physiological abilities can hear different things at different volumes, and thus volume is considered a physical phenomenon since it is extremely difficult to quantify objectively.

What we do know, however, is that human hearing is roughly logarithmic rather than linear. What this means is that reducing the volume of a sound by half will not cause it to be half as loud, rather you have to reduce by an even larger amount in order for the volume to be perceived as about half of what it was originally.

The most interesting part about sound and amplification is that there virtually is no limit to the frequency or volume of a sound. Well...there actually is because of physics, but there is almost no way that humans would ever be capable of producing such a noise, and if we were, then we better never let it be heard because we would all probably die from the energy of that wave.

Hopefully, you have taken away that it is important to lower the volume that you listen to things, as hearing loss is no joke and can only get worse as you get older. Also, if you haven’t already, go listen to some auditory illusions, because they will definitely make you confused, but also amazed.

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