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Sound moves thru air by compressing and rarefying (lowering the ambient pressure) of air molecules. We describe the amplitude of sound by how loud it is, and use the decibel as a unit of measurement to measure volume. The waves move thru air like it is a fluid, and it is the pressure waves moving, like waves in water when you throw a rock in a pool. They have positive and negative periods, and are typically periodic, having some rate of the changes.
The vertical axis could be pressure if we were looking at air, OR it can be voltage if we are looking at the signal after it has been recorded into a device.


Our ears are extremely sensitive, and have a huge range from quiet to loud that we can perceive. This decibel scale represents a ratio of amplitude of over a billion to one in terms of absolute pressure and is logarithmic. Originally abbreviated as cps (cycles per second) we now use hertz (hz), in memory of Heinrich Hertz, a famous German scientist of the 1800s who worked with electromagnetic waves.
Low frequencies are on the left, mid frequencies in the center, and high frequencies on the right. The decibel is used to measure sound pressure level (DBSPL) as well as electrical levels (DBV).


These same graphs can represent the electrical equivalent of the sound waves once they are converted by a microphone into a signal we can record. The bands in the above plot show 20-40hz, 40-80hz, etc, dividing up the spectrum into 10 octaves.



Guy wearing an earring in right ear lobe
Vintage gold hoop earrings




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