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Published by: api-27285803 on Nov 29, 2009
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Sound & Audio
Basics of Acoustics:
Sound is a form of energy similar to heat and light. Sound is generated from vibrating objectsand can flow through a material medium from one place to another. During generation thekinetic energy of the vibrating body is converted to sound energy. Acoustic energy flowingoutwards from its point of generation can be compared to a spreading wave over the surfaceof water. When an object starts vibrating or oscillating rapidly, a part of their kinetic energyis imparted to the layer of the medium in contact with the object e.g. the air surrounding a bell. The particles of the medium on receiving the energy starts vibrating on their own, and inturn help to impart a portion of their energy to the next layer of air particles, which also startsvibrating. This process continues thereby propagating the acoustic energy throughout themedium. When it reaches our ears it sets the ear-drums into similar kind of vibration and our  brain recognizes this as sound.
is the branch of science dealing with the study of sound and is concerned with thegeneration, transmission and reception of sound waves. the application of acoustics intechnology is called acoustical engineering. The main sub- disciplines of acoustics are :Aero-acoustics, bio-acoustics, biomedical-acoustics, psycho-acoustics, physical-acoustics,speech communication, ultrasonics, musical – acoustics.
psycho – acoustics
: psycho – acoustics, concerned with the hearing, perceptions andlocalization of sound related to human beings.
[taken from e-material]In harnessing sound for various musical instruments as well as for multimedia applications,the effects of sound on human hearing and the various factors involved needs to be analyzed.
 is the branch of acoustics which deals with these effects.
Nature of Sound Waves
As the sound energy flows through the material medium, it sets the layers of the medium intooscillatory motion. This creates alternate regions of compression and expansion. This is pictorially represented as a wave, the upper part(i.e., the crest or positive peak) denoting acompression and the lower part(i.e., the trough or negative peak) denoting a rarefraction.Since a sound wave actually represents a disturbance of the medium particles from original position(i.e., before the wave started) it cannot exist in vacuum. Sound waves have twocharacteristics properties.
, they are said to be longitudinal waves, which means thatthe direction of propagation of sound is the same as the direction along which the medium particles oscillate.
sound waves are referred to as mechanical waves. This meansthat they are capable of being compressed and expand like springs. When they are
compressed, the peaks come closer together, while on expansion the peaks move further apart. On compression the frequency of sound increases and it appear more high pitched ,while on expansion, the frequency decreases making it appear more dull and flat.
Spatial and Temporal waves
Waves can be of two types : Spatial andtemporal waves..
 Spatial Waves
represent the vibrating states of all particles in the path of a wave at an instantof time. The horizontal axis represents the distance of all particles. Distance of separation between points in the same phase is called the Wavelength. The particles at points O and Dhave the same state of motion at that instant and are said to be at the
Same Phase
. The lengthof the wave between O and D is called the
Temporal Waves
represent the state of a single particle in the path of a wave over a period of time. The horizontal axis represents the time period over which the wave flows. The timeelapsed between which the particle is in the same phase is called the
Time Period.
 The stateof the particle is same at instants O and D, and the particle is said to have undergone one
Complete Cycle
. The time interval between instants O and D is said to be
Time Period 
of the wave.
 Fundamental Characteristics
A sound wave has three fundamental characteristics : 
of a wave is the maximum displacement of a particle in the path of a wave fromits mean position and is the peak height of the wave. The physical manifestation of amplitudeis the intensity of energy of the wave. For sound waves this corresponds to the loudness of sound. Loudness is measured in a unit called
denoted by dB. The second characteristic is 
. This measures the number of vibration of a particlein the path of a wave, in one second. Higher is the frequency of the wave larger is the number of oscillation per second. The physical manifestation of frequency of a sound wave is the pitch of sound. As frequency of the sound increases, higher becomes the pitch and moreshriller becomes the sound. Frequency is measured in an unit called
and denoted byHz. A sound of 1 Hz is produced by an object vibrating at the rate of 1 vibration per second.The total range of human hearing lies between 20 Hz at the lower end to 20,000 Hz (or 20KHz) at the higher end.The
Time period
of a wave is the time taken to complete one complete oscillation Time period is inversely proportionalto the frequency of the soundwave.

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