The Physics of Sound

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Introduction Produced sound from speakers has become so common and integrated in our daily lives it is often taken for granted. Living with inventions such as televisions, phones and radios, chances are you rarely ever have days with nothing but natural sounds. Yet, few people know the physics involved in the technology that allows us to listen to music in our living room although the band is miles away. This article will investigate and explain the physics and mechanism behind loudspeakers – both electromagnetic and electrostatic. The Physics of Sound To understand how loudspeakers work it is necessary to know some basic sound physics. Sound is essentially a wave produced by a vibrating source. This compression and rarefaction of matter will transfer to the surrounding particles, for instance air molecules. Rhythmic variations in air pressure are therefore created which are detected by the ear and perceived as sound. The frequency of a sound wave is the number of these oscillations that passes through a given point each second. It is the compression of the medium particles that actually constitute a sound wave, and which classifies it as longitudinal. As opposed to transverse waves (eg. light waves), in which case the particles move perpendicular to the direction of the wave movement, the medium particles are moving in the same or opposite direction as the wave (Russell, D. A., 1998). Compression and rarefaction of particles forming sound waves. Retrieved 23/02/14 from Popular Science Monthly Volume 13 What distinguishes sound waves from most other waves is that humans easily can perceive the frequency and amplitude of the wave. The frequency governs the pitch of the note produced, while the amplitude relates to the sound le... ... middle of paper ... ...a wide movement radius and will hence have shorter and more frequent excursions, it is not very effective at generating low-frequency waves. A woofer is therefore often necessary to cover the whole sound spectre. Furthermore, the speakers need to be plugged directly into a power supply, making room placement more difficult (, 2001). There are also other advantages and disadvantages with both types of loudspeakers, but they tend to be too technical and require too much expertise to be explained in short here. Without regard to price, it can be assumed that the electrostatic speakers paired up with a woofer would be the first choice for audio quality oriented consumers. The light and widespread diaphragm provides clearer and more precise sound reproduction with a greater surround effect than what one would get from standard electromagnetic speakers.
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