Sound characteristic

Physics > Sound characteristic

Explore characteristics and properties of sounds like waves: the movement of sound along sine waves, frequency, tone and amplitude, sound perception, speed of sound.

Sound – longitudinal pressure wave passing through space in liquid, solid, gaseous states or plasma.

Learning challenge

  • Understand how people characterize sound.

Key points

  • Sound is transported along longitudinal sine waves.
  • Sound is characterized by its frequency, tone, and amplitude.
  • The speed of sound travel is based on the environment. Can be calculated by the formula (K is the stiffness coefficient of the material, and p is the density of the material).


  • Media is a general term for a variety of types of materials.
  • Hertz – measurement of audio frequency.
  • Frequency is the ratio of the number of times (n) of a periodic event in time

Let’s get to know the basics of sound. This is a longitudinal pressure wave passing through compressible spaces. In a vacuum (free from particles and matter), sound is impossible. Vacuum has no medium, so sound simply cannot move.

Sound characteristics:

  • It is transported along longitudinal waves. When graphically depicted, they are shown as sinusoidal.
  • Have a frequency (the height rises and falls).
  • Amplitude describes the loudness.
  • Tone is an indicator of the quality of a sound wave.
  • It is transported faster in hot environments than in solids. Higher at sea level (where air pressure is higher).
  • Intensity is the energy transmitted in a specific area. It is also a measure of audio frequency.
  • Ultrasound uses high-frequency waves to detect what is usually hidden (tumors). Bats and dolphins also use ultrasound to navigate and find objects. On ships, the same scheme is used.

Sound perception

Each sound wave has properties, including length, intensity, and amplitude. In addition, they have a range, that is, the level of sound perception. For example:

  • People: 20 – 20,000 Hz.
  • Dogs: 50 – 45,000 Hz.
  • Bats: 20 – 120,000 Hz.

It can be seen that among the three representatives, people have the lowest rate.

Sound speed

Transport speed is based on medium. It rises in solid state and falls in liquid and gas. Formula:

(K is the stiffness coefficient of the material and p is the density).

If it says “faster than sound speed”, then this is a comparison with an indicator of 344 m / s. The overall measurement is taken at sea level with a temperature mark of 21 ° C and under normal atmospheric conditions.

Shown here is a plane moving faster than sound speed.

Physics Section

  • Sound characteristics
  • Sound wave frequency
  • Sound production: vibrating string and air speakers
  • Sound quality
  • Sound speed
Sound intensity and sound level
  • Intensity
  • Human perception of sound
  • Decibels
Doppler effect and sonic arrows
  • Moving the observer
  • Moving the source
  • General case
  • Sonic boom
Interacting with sound waves
  • Superposition
  • Interference
  • Beating
  • Ear
  • Applications: ultrasound, sonar and medical imaging
Further topics
  • Spherical and plane waves
  • Standing waves on a string
  • Standing waves in air poles
  • Forced vibrations and resonance

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