Sound Waves transfer sound energy by vibrating the particles of the various media the sound waves pass through. The media will absorb, reflect or impede the sound energy flow in accordance with the acoustic properties of the media and the wavelength of the sound wave. In air there is little resistance (acoustic impedance) to the sound propagation, in a vacuum i.e. no media the sound cannot propagate
Sound Waves Definition (IEC 801-23-01) disturbance propagated at a definite velocity in a medium in such a manner that at any point in the medium the quantity serving as the measure of disturbance is a function of the time, while at any instant the same quantity at a point is a function of the co-ordinates of the point.
Sound Waves in air are longitudinal waves.
You can simulate sound waves while holding a length of rope and moving your hand(s) up and down or side-to-side, demonstrating the two main directions in which sound wave motion occurs, longitudinal and transverse. In both cases the rope particles are involved but without any net particle movement. Observe also the nodes and antinodes, found in all waves as they move along the rope. In the special case of standing waves these node(s) would be stationary.
Sound Waves related terms - listed alphabetically
Antinode Definition (IEC 801-23-17) point, line or surface in a standing wave where some specified characteristic of the wave field has maximum amplitude.
Note : the appropriate modifier should be used before the word antinode to signify the type that is intended; e.g. displacement antinode, particle velocity antinode, sound pressure antinode.
Boundary Effect a sound reflection due to room modes and or standing waves which accumulate at the walls. The reflected wave may interfere with the incident sound wave and cancellation or amplification may occur across the spectrum.
Cylindrical Wave Definition (IEC 801-23-08) wave of which the wave fronts are coaxial cylinders.
Diffraction in Sound Waves
Diffraction in Sound Waves - the distortion of a wavefront caused when an incident sound wave encounters an obstacle in the sound field. Depending on the size of the object and the wavelength of the sound, the sound wave bends or diffuses around the object and the diffraction or interference is significant.
Similarly when sound waves pass through a gap they spread out depending on the gap size and the wavelength (frequency).
Diffraction Factor Definition (IEC 801-25-55) for a specified frequency and specified direction of incident sound, it is the ratio of the sound pressure acting on the part of a transducer designed to receive sound, to the free-field sound pressure at that place in the absence of the transducer.
Dispersion Definition (IEC 801-23-22) separation of the sinusoidal components of a wave that results from change of speed of sound with frequency.
Free Progressive Wave
Grazing Incidence Definition (IEC 705-04-05) the incidence of a wave on a surface at a very small grazing angle.
Interference Definition (IEC 801-23-13) phenomenon that results from the superposition of two or more waves of the same frequency but different in phase or direction of propagation.
Longitudinal Sound Waves, in which the particle displacement is in the direction the wave is travelling. The media particles do not move along the wave, they transfer energy to the next particle along the path, then return to their equilibrium point. Sound Waves in air are longitudinal waves.
Nodes is where the amplitude of sound wave is zero, also known as a zero crossing point. Antinodes are where the amplitude (positive or negative) is a maximum, halfway between two adjacent nodes - see standing wave
Node Definition (IEC 801-23-16) a point, line or surface in a standing wave where some specified characteristic of the wave field has essentially zero amplitude
Note 1 : in practice, this amplitude is generally not zero but simply a minimum. The node is then said to be partial.
Note 2 : the appropriate modifier should be used before the word "node" to signify the type that is intended; e.g. displacement node, particle velocity node, sound pressure node.
Progressive Sound Waves distribute energy from a source to the surrounding area. They move energy in the form of vibrating particles or sound fields.
Rayleigh Sound Waves also known as Surface Acoustic Waves (SAWs) travel near the surface of solids and include both longitudinal and transverse motions that decrease exponentially in amplitude as distance from the surface increases. There is a phase difference between these component motions. Surface acoustic wave sensors have many modern applications, for example 'touch screen' displays
Rayleigh Wave Definition (IEC 801-23-12) surface wave associated with the free boundary of a solid or liquid such that a surface particle describes an ellipse whose major axis is normal to the surface, and whose centre is situated on the initially undisturbed surface
Note 1 : a maximum particle displacement away from this initially undisturbed surface the motion of the particle is opposite to that of the wave.
Note 2 : the propagation velocity of a Rayleigh wave is slightly less than that of a shear wave in the solid. The wave amplitude of the Rayleigh wave diminishes exponentially with depth.
Reflected Sound Waves when a sound wave encounters an object, some energy is absorbed by the object but most is reflected or diffused around the object. Where the wavelength is small compared to the object dimension the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection, similar to light reflection in a mirror.
The reflected wave may interfere with the incident sound wave and cancellation or amplification may occur across the spectrum.
Refraction : the bending of a wave from its original path, either because it is passing from one medium to another with different velocities or by changes in the physical properties of the medium, for example, a temperature or wind gradient in the air.
Rotational Sound Wave Rotational Wave Definition (IEC 801-23-10) wave propagating in an elastic medium that causes an element of the medium to change its shape without a change of volume, also known as a shear wave.
Note : mathematically, the particle velocity of a rotational wave has zero divergence
SAW (surface acoustic waves) under rayleigh waves
Shear Wave Definition (IEC 801-23-10) wave propagating in an elastic medium that causes an element of the medium to change its shape without a change of volume, also known as a rotational wave.
Note : mathematically, the particle velocity of a shear wave has zero divergence.
Sound Wave Dispersion
Sound Wave Propagation
Sound Wave Rarefaction
Sound Wave Velocity Definition (IEC 801-23-19) vector that specifies the speed and direction with which a sound wave travels
Standing Wave a phenomenon when a sound is reflected back and forth between two parallel surfaces, such as two side walls in a room. If the incident wave and the reflected wave are in-phase they combine and 'resonance' occurs. The combined wave is stationary across the room and the sound pressure at the maximum is known as the antinode and the minimum is called a node.
When sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase and have the same amplitude, they cancel each other out.
Standing Wave Definition (IEC 801-23-15) periodic wave having a fixed distribution in space that is the result of interference of progressive waves of the same frequency and kind.
Note : such waves are characterised by the existence of nodes or partial nodes and anti-nodes that are fixed in space.
Standing Wave Tube method for measuring sound absorption coefficients by means of the standing waves in a tube.
Superposition of Waves occur whenever two (or more) waves are travelling through the same medium at the same time, the waves combine. The net displacement of the medium at any point in space or time, is the sum of the individual wave displacements.
Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) under rayleigh wave
Surface Wavefront Definition (IEC 801-23-02) locus of points of a progressive surface where the phase of a quantity characterising the wave is the same at a given instant.
Transverse Sound Waves in which the particle displacement is perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation.
Wave Front (Wavefront) is the surface of a propagating wave, made up of all points in the wave having the same phrase. It is usually perpendicular to the direction of propagation. The simplest form of a wavefront is the plane wave.
Wavelength (λ) is the distance between sequential crests of a sound wave. At 20 Hz the wavelength ≈ 17 m and at 20 kHz the wavelength is ≈ 17 mm (in dry air at 20 °C).
Wavelength Definition (IEC 103-10-10) distance, in the direction of propagation of a sinusoidal wave, between two successive points where the phases of the characteristic quantity differ by 2π radians.
It can be envisaged as the number of waves that exist over a specified distance (analogous to frequency being the number of cycles or radian per unit time).