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General Science => General Science => Topic started by: Phoebe on 08/03/2010 13:30:01

Title: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Phoebe on 08/03/2010 13:30:01
Phoebe asked the Naked Scientists:
   
If there are multiple sources of sound in a particular area - say 20 sources of air conditioning units, each creating about 60 Decibels of sound, does this create more sound (and a louder sound) in the same way that lighting multiple candles creates more light?

What do you think?
Title: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: RD on 08/03/2010 18:07:20
Q. Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?

A. Yes, with the exception of anti-phase sound, as used in noise cancelling headphones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise-cancelling_headphones).
Title: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: doppler1 on 10/03/2010 06:40:33
Nuff said
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 22/04/2019 17:09:38
...one frequency only...
IF the sound-wave peaks match up , then yes .
IF the peaks of one match the troughs of the other , then  no .
The second case results in what is now called "Noise-Cancellation" .
P.M.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: alancalverd on 22/04/2019 17:45:52
If you have n sources of equal amplitude but random phases and frequencies, the total amplitude is  √n .
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 22/04/2019 18:59:40
...so , IF...
One has two identical speakers , in a perfectly sound-reflective room . Each emits an identical sound-wave , perfectly out of sync . All sound is perfectly cancelled out . Where does the energy put into the emitted sound-waves go ?
P.M.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: alancalverd on 22/04/2019 21:42:54
Heat
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 22/04/2019 23:13:53
...most excellent !
Sounds (sic) like a good alternative  area heating mechanism , or very focused , internal-target heater . The medical and industrial applications could be many-fold .
 If thine appendix offends thee , cook it in situ , THEN pluck it out !
P.M.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: evan_au on 23/04/2019 00:29:06
Quote from: Professor Mega-Mind
Each emits an identical sound-wave , perfectly out of sync . All sound is perfectly cancelled out
This is not correct.
The sound emitted by the speakers may be out of sync, but the speed of sound is not infinite.
So the points equidistant from the speakers will have cancellation, but points slightly away from equidistant will not have cancellation.

In fact, the points with zero amplitude will be balanced by the points with doubled amplitude.

Quote
in a perfectly sound-reflective room
You need to do this experiment in a perfectly sound-absorbing room (anechoic chamber).

Otherwise, the sound energy injected into the room will just build up forever, causing the speakers, amplifier and room to eventually self-destruct.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anechoic_chamber
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 23/04/2019 04:27:42
...the limits of noise cancellation !
Your explanation actually brings in another possible use ; sonar for the blind . The return wave's characteristics would reveal the direction and distance to nearby objects . The subject would hear nothing , until an object approached , then they would hear what YOU said !
So now it's a room heater that also tells you what is in that room .
Unnecessary Zoom , unnecessary zoom !
D.H.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: evan_au on 23/04/2019 11:16:17
Quote
sonar for the blind . ... . The subject would hear nothing , until an object approached
Some blind people already use sonar by clicking with their tongue and teeth.

They hear little reflection (maybe the path they are walking on) until they get near a pole, building, car, etc, when they hear a reflection.

Quote
The return wave's characteristics would reveal the direction and distance to nearby objects
I saw this blind man on TV walking along the street, successfully recognising cars, tree trunks and shrubs beside the path by the way they reflected sound. Here he is in Brugge...

Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 23/04/2019 12:19:37
...on the same page...
If the blind person moves , or turns themselves , the return-patterns should change , thus indicating the object's direction/distance . It is a stereo effect .
P.M.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Bored chemist on 23/04/2019 13:50:11
All sound is perfectly cancelled out .
It isn't.
Where does the energy put into the emitted sound-waves go ?
In the limit it either escapes through, or is dissipated as heat in the loudspeakers.
Some will be lose by absorption in the air.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Andrew Troup on 01/05/2020 11:24:26
Phoebe asked the Naked Scientists:
   
If there are multiple sources of sound in a particular area - say 20 sources of air conditioning units, each creating about 60 Decibels of sound, does this create more sound (and a louder sound) in the same way that lighting multiple candles creates more light?

What do you think?

My recollection is that two sound sources, each producing (say) 60dB, will in combination amount to only 63dB, because of the logarithmic nature of the dB scale. And subjectively, two (say) musical instruments, identical and playing the same melody, are only slightly louder than one.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 01/05/2020 15:13:01
Answer : No , adding together DIFFERENT sounds will NOT make any of those any louder .
However , considering that a sound is a unique frequency of crests and troughs , no one sound would be any louder , just the total noise recieved by the ear .
P.M.
Exemplification : Orcestras ; When one instrument plays , the hall is comparatively quiet . When another joins in , it's almost as quiet . If ALL join in , you can't even hear yourself think , despite the fact that no instrument is playing any louder than at the beginning .
*Can you hear me now ?!
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: RD on 01/05/2020 23:13:17
... If the blind person moves , or turns themselves , the return-patterns should change , thus indicating the object's direction/distance . It is a stereo effect ...

You don't need to move your head to tell where a sound is coming from:
the delay between the sound arriving at each ear tells you its bearing  ...
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Colin2B on 02/05/2020 08:32:09
However , considering that a sound is a unique frequency of crests and troughs , no one sound would be any louder , just the total noise recieved by the ear .
P.M.
Would you mind rewriting this so that it makes sense.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: alancalverd on 02/05/2020 11:00:54
Lots of interesting and confused physics going on here!

Simple pressure waves will add if in phase and subtract if out of phase. The amplitudes of non-coherent sounds add in quadrature (A = √(a12 + a22 +.....) so the roar of a crowd depends on the square root of the number of people shouting (it's a bit less, in practice, because the sources are dispersed).

Similar effect with an orchestra except that groups of instruments will be playing at pretty much the same  frequency, so you will get some constructive addition of the fundamental of the note they are playing. This can have a surprising effect on the listener's experience: a solo violin is identifiable by its "piercing" harmonics above a full orchestra but three well tuned violins in a studio band can sound like syrup (try some old recordings of George Melachrino's orchestra) and the more you add, the more each section sounds like a flute (almost pure sine wave).

Fairly complete noise cancellation is difficult in a large space, as has been pointed out above, because the intensity of the combined waveforms depends on position, but it's fairly easy  over a small area, which is why noise-cancelling headphones and microphones are very effective: you detect and electronically subtract the unwanted ambient signal from the output or input, so the pressure reaching the ear, or the waveform leaving the microphone, carries only the wanted signal.

What I always find astonishing is the ability of the brain to decode a single continuous pressure waveform into separate frequencies and identify musical instruments or  individual voices, even when the bandwidth is severely limited. And one question I'd like to investigate in my next life is whether somebody who had never heard the individual instruments would be able to decode the sound of a string quartet. 
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 02/05/2020 16:34:07
Damned good , Mr.A.C.Hertz !
You have a hella grasp of the intricacies of multiple-source sound interactions . I suppose if several instruments had the exact same frequency and were phase-matched , that would result in one sound changing amplitude , in direct proportion to the number of sources contributing at that moment . However , as you made clear , the tiniest diff. in frequency or phase or volume can reveal the different sources and their locations . So...rarely would an audience member be fooled by different instruments sporadically adding in to a group sound .
*Cheerio !
P.M.. 😎
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: hamdani yusuf on 04/05/2020 09:10:42
What I always find astonishing is the ability of the brain to decode a single continuous pressure waveform into separate frequencies and identify musical instruments or  individual voices, even when the bandwidth is severely limited. And one question I'd like to investigate in my next life is whether somebody who had never heard the individual instruments would be able to decode the sound of a string quartet.
It is the cochlea which act as a hardware "Fourier Transformer" which decomposes sound into its constituent frequencies. Its function is similar to glass prism or diffraction grating in spectroscopy.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlea#Hearing
Quote
The hair cells in the organ of Corti are tuned to certain sound frequencies by way of their location in the cochlea, due to the degree of stiffness in the basilar membrane.[4] This stiffness is due to, among other things, the thickness and width of the basilar membrane,[5] which along the length of the cochlea is stiffest nearest its beginning at the oval window, where the stapes introduces the vibrations coming from the eardrum. Since its stiffness is high there, it allows only high-frequency vibrations to move the basilar membrane, and thus the hair cells. The farther a wave travels towards the cochlea's apex (the helicotrema), the less stiff the basilar membrane is; thus lower frequencies travel down the tube, and the less-stiff membrane is moved most easily by them where the reduced stiffness allows: that is, as the basilar membrane gets less and less stiff, waves slow down and it responds better to lower frequencies. In addition, in mammals, the cochlea is coiled, which has been shown to enhance low-frequency vibrations as they travel through the fluid-filled coil.[6] This spatial arrangement of sound reception is referred to as tonotopy.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: alancalverd on 04/05/2020 09:52:57
True, but if I look at the realtime graphical fourier transform of an orchestra, my eyes can't identify the types of instrument playing at any moment. Our auditory memory is phenomenal: with less than 5 kHz bandwidth and deliberately enhanced at 3 kHz, I can still identify other pilots and controllers by name against 90 dB background noise. 
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: vhfpmr on 07/05/2020 12:48:12
Nobody has discussed the difference between amplitude and intensity (power), the latter being the square of the former. If you have two waves of differing frequencies, the amplitude adds on a square root basis, but the intensity/power just adds, so two equal amplitude waves will have twice the power of one alone. This said, thereís also a difference between mean power and peak envelope power (PEP).

See the plot below of two equal amplitude sinewaves, one 490Hz (blue), the other 510Hz (red). You can see that the amplitude of the overall envelope of the combined waves (green) varies at a rate equal to the difference between the two tones (20Hz). This is because the relative phase of the two tones is changing at 20 Hz, they start out in phase and therefore add in amplitude, but 25ms later theyíre out of phase, and therefore cancel out. The peak amplitude is twice that of one tone, but PEP is four times, mean amplitude is root 2 times, and mean power double.

Having double the power from two tones might sound like a lot, but it actually isnít. The response of the human ear is logarithmic, not linear, so in fact double power isnít actually much above the smallest increment the ear can detect. The range of loudness in a typical home is 10,000:1, and the range from threshold of hearing to threshold of pain is 10,000,000,000,000:1. Decibels are also logarithmic, so each multiplying of power by 10 adds 10dB, doubling the power adds 3dB.


Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Professor Mega-Mind on 07/05/2020 14:29:44
You be right , mahn !
I guarantee you that if I hear that , I will percieve 2 sources of lower volume , and will even be able to pinpount each one !
P.M.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: thompsonmax on 12/05/2020 09:03:41
Hi there. Interesting question. I think it is all about the sound power wich rate in decibels. So if you add together different sounds we will hear that one which has more decibels.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: vhfpmr on 12/05/2020 13:20:02
Hi there. Interesting question. I think it is all about the sound power wich rate in decibels. So if you add together different sounds we will hear that one which has more decibels.
Common experience should tell you this isn't correct, the ear is quite capable of hearing sounds in the presence of louder ones.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Colin2B on 12/05/2020 14:29:33
Common experience should tell you this isn't correct, the ear is quite capable of hearing sounds in the presence of louder ones.
Unless the frequency of the competing sound is lower.
The general rule is that low masks high. The lower frequency sound will raise the hearing threshold of a higher frequency sound, so it needs to be at a higher level to get through. There are detailed masking curves which show the effect and the frequency relationships.
One interesting aspect of this is a singer working with an orchestra. The orchestra has a lot of power in the lower frequencies and these can mask a singer. Classical singing training teaches singers to produce what is known as the singers formant, extra  power in the 2-4kHz range which punches through the masking. Pop singers donít have that training so vocal microphones have raised sensitivity in the 2-4kHz range, known as a presence peak, which lets the singer compete with the group (mostly).
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: vhfpmr on 12/05/2020 15:22:50
Common experience should tell you this isn't correct, the ear is quite capable of hearing sounds in the presence of louder ones.
Unless the frequency of the competing sound is lower.
The general rule is that low masks high. The lower frequency sound will raise the hearing threshold of a higher frequency sound, so it needs to be at a higher level to get through. There are detailed masking curves which show the effect and the frequency relationships.
One interesting aspect of this is a singer working with an orchestra. The orchestra has a lot of power in the lower frequencies and these can mask a singer. Classical singing training teaches singers to produce what is known as the singers formant, extra  power in the 2-4kHz range which punches through the masking. Pop singers don’t have that training so vocal microphones have raised sensitivity in the 2-4kHz range, known as a presence peak, which lets the singer compete with the group (mostly).
But I didn't say that a loud sound doesn't raise the threshold for the quieter one, I said that you can hear a sound that is quieter than another present at the same time, which I think this is what Thompsonmax was getting at. Taking a 1kHz tone as a reference, I can hear a 500Hz or 2kHz tone that is 40dB quieter. That's with sinewaves, if I make the quiet one a square wave it's easier to hear.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: vhfpmr on 12/05/2020 16:22:56
I'm really at a loss to see what you're getting at. I'd read the Wiki page on masking before I made my first post, and I don't think I'm saying anything that contradicts it, or finding anything that contradicts it when I listen to two tones.
Title: Re: Do sounds add together to make louder sounds?
Post by: Colin2B on 13/05/2020 00:20:25
I'm really at a loss to see what you're getting at. I'd read the Wiki page on masking before I made my first post, and I don't think I'm saying anything that contradicts it, or finding anything that contradicts it when I listen to two tones.
Sorry, I hit the wrong quote button, had meant to add to what you said for thomsonmax, certainly not contraficting. Been a bit hectic here, multitasking, trying to get rid of spammers before they do damage, trying to upload some big updates on an internet down to a crawl because everyone is homeworking. I reply direct with some exampkes when I get a mo.