THE SCI­ENCE OF SOUND

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What is Sound?

If you paid at­ten­tion in sci­ence class, you will re­mem­ber that sound is a lon­gi­tu­di­nal wave. A lon­gi­tu­di­nal wave is an al­ter­nat­ing pro­gres­sion of a com­pres­sions and rar­efac­tions, which re­quires a medium to travel in.

As with most waves, sound is de­fined by fre­quency and wave­length. Wave­length refers to the dis­tance be­tween two peaks, while fre­quency refers to the num­ber of times an event oc­curs per unit time. Bass notes have large wave­lengths and low fre­quen­cies, while tre­bles have small wave­lengths and high fre­quen­cies.

Elec­tric­ity to Au­dio

In to­day’s world, most au­dio is stored in dig­i­tal. Sound how­ever, is an ana­log lon­gi­tu­di­nal wave. How an elec­tri­cal sig­nal is con­verted to an ana­log wave is ex­plained by Flem­ing’s Left Hand Rule. This vis­ual mnemonic shows the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a mag­netic field, cur­rent and thrust. Re­duced to the sim­plest terms, in­side a head­phone, cur­rent is car­ried in a wire, and mag­nets pro­vide a mag­netic field. The in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the two re­sults in the move­ment of a di­aphragm, which re­sults in sound be­ing pro­duced.

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