So you’d like to be a Sound Engineer!


Hi Audio Girl,

Before all the audio connections and engineering facts, let’s first take you through the basic concepts of sound. (We assume you have basic science knowledge, Physics to be precise!) Here’s to a few physics basics:

What Exactly is Sound?

Sound is simply a type of energy vibrating through a medium (such as air or water); this energy, within a specific range of frequencies, is interpreted by the human ear as sound.For example your ears can differentiate between a clap and a car horn (it is the same energy) but has been altered by its host creating what is called a sound.

Simply put the medium determines what kind of sound produced.

Sound is made up of three basic elements:• Frequency: how fast the vibrations are occurring• Intensity: how loud the sound is• Timbre: the sound’s quality

Frequency (Hz)

The human ear can detect sound frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz. However, the human ear is more sensitive to (i.e. able to discern at lowest intensity) frequencies ranging between 2,000 and 5,000 Hz (see Hearing Range – Wikipedia). Recall that Hertz (Hz) is a unit defined as cycles per second.

Intensity (dB)

A sound’s intensity corresponds to the amount of energy associated with that sound. The decibel (dB) is used for measuring the sound’s energy in a way that is relevant to how humans perceive loudness.In the context of audio, the decibel is defined as follows:dB = 10 log10 (I/I0)where • I = the measured intensity (W/m2) • I0 = 10-12 W/m2, which represents the lowest sound intensity detectable by the human earThe figure below shows a variety of sounds and their dB intensity measurement. 


Timbre is the complex wave pattern that occurs when overtones (also referred to as harmonics) are present along with the fundamental frequency. The specific intensity of each overtone is largely credited for giving an instrument (or a person’s voice) its unique timbre (also called tonal quality).Simply put Timbre is the specific character/ uniqueness of a Sound wave by a particular medium/instrument.

Don’t let these terms scare you! This is to help you understand terms used frequently in the audio world! You’ll get use to them as you explore more?

Leave a comment below, let’s know what you think, feel free to ask questions! We’d like to hear from you!

Stay tuned for more tips! ?

Practical classes begin in April

PS: Some of this content was adapted fromAll About Circuits

Go check them out for further studies too!


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