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Catch The Wave!: What You Really Need To Know About Sound

what is ound

If someone asks you, “what is sound?” could you answer the question?

Most of us, if we're honest with ourselves, may know a few fundamental things about sound.

However, at the end of the day, the majority of us have only skimmed the surface or recall bits and pieces from elementary school.

I know, you're nodding your head right now.

THE KNOWER OF THE MYSTERY OF SOUND KNOWS THE MYSTERY OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. – HAZRAT INAYAT KHAN

Now, whether you are a musician, an audiophile, or someone who is merely obsessed with sound, you are in the right place.

We are about to break it all down and finally answer the question, “what is sound?” in its entirety in a way that everyone can understand.

After you read this article, shopping for new sound equipment will be a piece of cake.

What Is Sound?

To answer the big question, we are going to have to start small.

So, let's start with the basics:

Sound is a wave — to be precise; it's a pressure wave that, “creates a mechanical disturbance in the medium in which it is directly adjacent to.”

sky-sound-waves-blue-white-background

Generally, the “medium” that ends up disturbed by the wave is the air, but sound can also travel through solids and liquids as well.

Check out this short video for a more detailed explanation:

An essential thing to remember here is that just because you can't see a soundwave, doesn't mean that it isn't physically there.

How Humans Hear

Now that you understand what a soundwave is let's talk about how the human ear manages to pick up those sounds.

Soundwaves consist of regions of compressions and rarefactions that occur as the sound travels away from its source:

  • Compressions: areas of high pressure
  • Rarefactions: regions of low pressure

The change in pressure hits the human ear, and that's what produces a sound.

The human ear

Our ears consist of three different sections:

  • Outer ear
  • Middle ear
  • Inner ear
outer-middle-inner-ear-black-white

Source: NASA

Sound hits your outer ear first.

Then, the outer ear works to funnel that sound through your ear canal.

“GET RID OF THE SHITTY SOUND. LIFE’S TOO SHORT.” – HANS ZIMMER

Once the soundwave hits your tympanic membrane (eardrum) in the middle ear, it causes it to vibrate.

But we're not done yet!

There are three bones in your middle ear:

  • Malleus
  • Incus
  • Stapes

Once the soundwave hits those bones, they transmit vibrations from your eardrum to your inner ear.

Then, the soundwave gets into your inner ear, and the cochlea there convert the vibrations into nerve impulses.

Finally, your auditory nerve receives those messages, already translated into nerve impulses, and carries them into your brain which is where your brain turns them into sound.

Check out the video below:

As you can see, the human ear is capable of an astounding number of processes, and they all happen almost instantly.

The Power Of Sound

Next, it's imperative that when someone tries to answer the question, “what is sound?” that they also understand the power of sound.

You should never underestimate the power of sound.

Here's why:

  • Doctors in England used sound waves to kill cancer cells
  • Playing music around plants will make them grow faster 
  • Sound can help balance out brainwaves and create cohesion between the two sides of your brain
  • Ultrasound can help your wounds heal faster
  • Music can help you improve your memory and learn things faster

Sound and shapes

Amazingly, Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor, pioneered research that showed each sound produces a unique geometric shape.

Called cymatics — it's the study of “sound and vibration made visible.”

Check out the video below:

And if those shapes weren't cool enough, let's talk about Doctor Masaru Emoto:

Author of the book Messages from Water, Dr. Emoto studied the formation of crystals in water as he exposed the water to different sounds.

The results:

When Dr. Emoto played nice things like Mozart, prayers, and positive affirmations, beautiful crystals grew as a result.

“TONES THEMSELVES CORRESPOND WITH AND AFFECT SPECIFIC AREAS OF THE BODY. THE ANCIENTS UNDERSTOOD THAT A SIMPLE SOUND COULD REORGANISE THE BODY’S STRUCTURE. SOUNDS THAT ARE HARMONIOUS, ACTIVATE THE BODY AND CREATE HEALING.” EARTH: PLEIADIAN KEYS TO THE LIVING LIBRARY – BARBARA MARCINIAK

However, when Dr. Emoto played or yelled mean things like, “I hate you,” and, “I will kill you,” the resulting crystals were deformed and ugly.

Check out the video below:

So, as you can see, sound effects every human daily in more ways than most of us can imagine.

The Speed Of Sound

Now that you understand the power of sounds let's talk quickly about the speed of sound.

Check out the video below:

While the speed of sound is a constant, certain variables will affect how fast the soundwaves can move.

Those variables are:

  • The type of gas (air, oxygen, carbon dioxide)
  • The temperature of the gas

On average, though, the speed of sound through air is around 1,130 feet per second or approximately 750 miles per hour.

Measuring Sound Waves

Next, when it comes to measuring a sound wave, how fast it's going is not quite as crucial as other measurements — like volume and pitch.

Let's find out how you measure those.

Amplitude

First, the amplitude is the measurement of how powerful the wave is — which translates into how loudly the human ear hears that sound.

In other words, amplitude equals volume.

amplitude-elephant

You measure the amplitude of a sound wave in decibels or dBA, and it defines the amount of pressure emitted by the wave.

You may also hear it called Sound Pressure Level or SPL.

For example:

  • 0 decibels: the softest level that a person can hear
  • 65 decibels: normal speaking voices
  • 120 decibels: rock concert

For humans, sounds that are 85 decibels or higher have the potential to damage your ears permanently.

As the sound pressure (amplitude, volume) goes higher, the time it takes to damage your ears goes down, so be careful.

girl out in the field in a shiny day

For example, sounds at 85 decibels will take up to eight hours to cause any damage while sounds over 100 decibels can cause damage after only 30 minutes.

Understanding Decibels Isn't As Hard As You Think

Now, for recording artists and musicians, understanding decibels on your equipment is a little more involved than just understanding what they measure.

First, most of us understand units of measurement on a linear scale, and decibels don't work that way.

Check out this video for a detailed explanation:

You can find the chart from the video if you click here.

Frequency aka pitch

If you want to answer the question, “what is sound?” the next thing you need to understand is the frequency of the sound wave — or the pitch.

The frequency of a sound wave is the measurement of how far it is between the peaks of the wave.

dogs can pick up sounds up to 50000 hertz

To measure the frequency, you want to measure the number of sound vibrations in one second.

The unit of measurement used to define the frequency (pitch) is Hertz.

Check out this short video on frequency and amplitude:

Let's break it down:

  • The lowest A key on a piano is 27 Hertz
  • The highest key on the piano is 4186 Hertz
  • A human can hear sounds as low as 20 Hertz

Instruments used to measure sound

There are several different instruments you can use to measure sound including:

  • VU meter
  • Spectrum analyzer
  • Microphone
  • SPL (sound pressure level) meter

However, since it is 2019, instead of getting all that expensive equipment, you could just download an application like dB Meter to your smartphone.

People Started To Manipulate Sound Electronically Over 100 Years Ago

Starting from 1880 to the 1920s, Thomas Edison, Magnavox, and Victrola all used horns as the earliest means of manipulating sound.

an old style speaker

Photograph of an old-style speaker: Image CC BY-SA 2.0 from Javier Kohen via Flickr

Unfortunately, the horns alone could not amplify the sound all that much.

So, In 1906, a man by the name of Lee De Forest invented the first audio amplifier using a triode vacuum tube.

For a detailed explanation of how tube amplifiers work check out this video:

Then, in the 1970s, silicon transistors replaced the vacuum technology used in amplifiers.

For a detailed explanation of how a transistor amplifier works, check out this video:


While you can still find tube amplifiers today, most people prefer the transistor types because they are smaller and more efficient.

On top of that, the transistor types of amplifiers are also better at reducing distortion levels, and they are much cheaper to produce than the tubed versions.

What's A Watt?

Now that we are starting to answer the question, “what is sound?” we need to dig in and find out how wattages affect different equipment.

First of all, let's find out the answer to the question, “what is a watt?” 

Check out the video below:

Generally, you can compare watts to miles per hour — watts measure how fast the electrons move “down the highway,” or the circuit.

Speakers And watts

Concerning the wattage readings on speakers:

Unless the speaker is self-powered, the wattage rating listed there is the maximum number of watts that the speaker can handle.

bronze-black-speakers

For example, if you have a 200-watt speaker and you attach a 250-watt amplifier to it, you're going to blow the speaker.

Amplifiers

Amplifiers process sound and you measure the output with watts.

You can find the output of any amplifier listed right in the specs.

vox-amp-specs-brown-yellow-bronze

Again, make sure that your amplifier isn't pushing more power than your speakers can handle, or you risk damaging your equipment.

How Speakers Work

Speakers work by translating an electrical signal into an audible sound.

Now, that electrical signal can be an amp, stereo, microphone, or even these days a Bluetooth connection.

Speakers contain a permanent magnet as well as an electromagnet placed beside it.

The electromagnet is a metal coil that generates a magnetic field when the electric current flows through it.

The coil doesn't act exactly like a regular magnet, however.

guitar-terms-acoustic

Instead, as the pulses of electricity go through this electromagnet, the direction of the magnetic field changes rapidly.

Then, as the electromagnet's field changes, it alternates between attracted to and repelled from the permanent magnet, which causes rapid vibrations.

Those vibrations create a soundwave.

However, to get the sound outside the speaker, you need a few more parts.

The electromagnetic coil is also attached to a cone made from a flexible material like paper or plastic.

That cone amplifies the magnetic vibrations and pumps out the sound waves into the air and then into your ears.

Check out the video below:

Finally, concerning the cone the magnet uses to get the sound out there — many speakers have more than one.

To reproduce the many different frequencies of sound within a piece of music faithfully, high-quality speakers have different sized cones in them.

You see, with a different cone assigned to the high, mid, and low frequencies in a track, you are going to hear much more than you would from a speaker with only one cone.

Bass, Mids, And Highs

When you hear people speak about music equipment, you will often hear the terms bass, mids, and highs (treble) — those words describe the frequency.

Let's break it down:

  • Bass: the frequency for bass is between 20 and 300 hertz
  • Mids: 300 hertz to 4 kilohertz
  • Highs (treble): anything above 4 kilohertz

Please note: 

Frequency ranges are not an exact science, so those numbers are estimates only.

Understanding Frequency

To answer the question “what is sound?” you must first understand how frequency works when it comes to your sound components and equipment.

When you are shopping for sound equipment, you will often see the term “frequency response.”

Let's find out what that means.

Frequency response

You will see frequency response listed in the specifications for a ton of different products like speakers, headphones, amplifiers, receivers, and CD players.

To put it simply, the frequency response, “describes the range of frequencies or musical tones a component can reliably reproduce.

In other words, the frequency response is how well that particular component can reproduce the sounds we are capable of hearing.

Check out the video below for a detailed explanation:

Please note:

While he was talking about headphones in the video, frequency response works in generally the same way across all equipment.

gain and levels

Additionally, while many purists go for a flat frequency response, some people prefer things like a bass boost, and that's okay too.

Drivers and crossovers and what they do

Before you can honestly answer the question, “what is sound?” you have to get a few more things straight concerning speakers.

dynamic-range

First, it's vital that you understand that when you hear the term, “speaker,” that's describing the entire piece of equipment, housing and all.

However, when you hear the terms, “driver, box, and crossover,” those describe the critical stuff that produces the sound.

Let's break it down:

  • Box: the box holds the drivers as well as the crossover network (when available)
  • Crossover network: a device inside the box that divides the audio signal up between the different drivers
  • Driver: these convert the electrical audio signal into sound waves

Sometimes, a speaker will contain many different drivers in one box, and at other times there are only one or two.

port

However, depending on what you need the speaker for, that's very much on purpose.

The Different Types Of Speakers And How You Should Use Them

Next, we are going to find out what the different types of speakers are as well as the best uses for each of them.

Passive, active, and powered speakers

As you learn and read about speakers, you will see them called passive, active or powered.

Check out this video that explains the whole thing:

  • Passive speaker: does not contain an internal amplifier
  • Active speaker: includes amplifier also includes an internal crossover system — in an active speaker the crossover system splits the frequency into different parts
  • Powered speaker: has an amplifier built into the system

Dynamic speakers

First up, we have the most popular type of speaker on the market: the dynamic speaker.

A dynamic speaker is usually a passive speaker.

A dynamic speaker also:

  • Includes one or more woofer drivers
  • Produces low-frequency sounds
  • Has one or more tweeter drivers
  • Might occasionally include rear drivers to amplify the sounds it's producing

Subwoofer

Next, another favorite type of speaker for audio enthusiasts, especially the ones that like those low frequencies, is the subwoofer.

What is a Tweeter

A subwoofer generally has one large woofer driver that produces low-frequency sounds as well as a port on the box to enhance them.

If you are shopping for a general speaker that produces a full range of sounds, a subwoofer isn't the one for you.

However, if you need to add a little more bass into your life, you're looking for one of these.

Horn speakers

Next up, let's talk about horn speakers.

You might recognize the most common type of horn speaker from places like sporting events.

They look like this:

horn speaker

Photo of horn speaker. Image CC BY 2.0 from Michael Rhysvia Flickr

Horn type speakers have a lot in common with dynamic speakers when it comes to the drivers they contain as well as the frequency ranges.

Horn speakers also:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Eliminate the resonance caused by the materials used to make the speaker boxes
  • Increases directivity: sound doesn't spread out from horn speakers like it does from other types

Electrostatic speakers

Electrostatic speakers feature one driver and a super-fine membrane over two conductive panels.

This setup results in a crisp, detailed sound for mid and higher frequencies — not so much for the lows.

equalizer

This type of speaker comes with an outside power source, and you keep them plugged into a power outlet.

An ideal setup will contain both electrostatic speakers as well as dynamic speakers or a subwoofer for added bass.

Planar magnetic

Finally, we have a speaker design that produces quality highs and mids like the electrostatic speakers — planar magnetic.

A planar magnetic speaker uses a long metal ribbon suspended in between to magnetized panels.

mixer

This type of speaker is ideal, again, for producing precision high-frequency sounds, but if you need some bass, you will need s subwoofer or a dynamic speaker as well.

The Different Types Of Speakers Continued

On this mission to answer the question, “what is sound?” you have learned the different types of manufacturing techniques for speakers.

Next, let's take a look at the most popular speakers on the market and find out what they' do.

Studio monitor speakers

Now, we talked earlier about how many audiophiles prefer a flat frequency response.

Well, for a musician or music producer working on recording and mastering music, a studio monitor is essential.

Here's why:

Like we already discussed, most speakers have components in them that will enhance some of the frequencies.

However, you also learned that every different type of speaker has different settings.

So, when you are recording a track, you need to make sure those levels are as close to precisely what we hear with our ears as possible.

That way, when those other speakers play that mastered track, the levels are where they need to be.

configuration

So, to do that you need to listen to the soundwave on speakers that will reproduce the sound as flat as possible and that's what studio monitor speakers do.

Check out this video:

Please remember:

Some manufacturers sell studio monitor speakers as a set, and some of them sell one at a time — so keep that in mind when you're shopping.

Computer speakers

When computers first popped on the scene, they came with tiny little internal speakers attached to the motherboard.

Well, the current generation of computer speakers come these days with a 2.1 system.

A 2.1 system means the speakers include two loudspeakers as a subwoofer.

Computer speakers are plug-and-play and often attach to your computer using a USB.

Floor standing speaker

Next up, if you are designing a home theater or other home sound system, you want to think about a floor standing speaker.

Provided, of course, that you have enough space.

You see, these speakers are around four feet tall, so if you live in an apartment, you may need something a little smaller.

You can get floor standing speakers in many different configurations with different drivers and such depending on your needs.

receiver

The majority of these speakers are passive or unpowered, so you're going to need a receiver or an amplifier.

Bookshelf speakers

Now, if you don't have room for those floor speakers, don't worry.

You can always get yourself some slightly smaller bookshelf speakers.

Bookshelf speakers are medium sized speakers that come in many different configurations.

This type of speaker is directional, which means that to get the full effect, they must face you and you will need an amplifier or a receiver to make them work.

Surround speakers

Finally, we end our list of the most popular types of speakers with the creme of the crop — surround speakers.

If you want to have your home theater system sound like you are at the movie theater, a surround system is for you.

Terms You Need to Know

A surround system places several speakers in the room and works to create a 360-degree sound environment.

These types of speakers use multiple channels as well as different drivers to deliver sound to every corner of a room.

Common Problems With Sound

Of course, at some point, you are likely going to run into some issues with your equipment.

Let's discuss a few common sound issues and what they mean:

  • Clipping: an audible distortion you can hear, and it happens when a circuit is overloaded
  • Distortion: a difference between the source material and the sonic output of a sound system
  • Acoustic feedback: the squealing sound you hear — it happens if the mic is too close to the speakers (you can stop it by turning down the mic)

Ways To Manipulate Sound Waves With Your Computer

Finally, we will round out our lessons helping you answer the question, “what is sound?” with a short chat about manipulating sound waves on your computer.

So, you finally got all the speakers and recording equipment you need, so what's next?

Well, if you want to record at home, you are going to want to grab a software program so you can master your work before you send it out.

There are so many of these programs out there, check out this video for more information:

These days, you can even get a ton of audio editing programs for free.

Now You're Ready To Blow Their Minds

And there you have it, folks.

Now, the next time someone asks you the question, “what is sound?” you are 100 percent ready to blow their minds.

Most importantly, the next time you're reading the specs on a piece of sound equipment, you're going to know exactly what those numbers mean.

How Speakers Work – Learn More Facts About Speakers

how speakers work

People like to listen to things. Listening comprises one-fifth of our sense-based perception, so this is only natural. Also, since we are also very curious by nature, we tend to like to listen to new things. To this end, people have developed innumerable ways of creating new sounds, and the dawn of the modern age made sharing these new sounds much easier. That said; it is important to know how such sounds are produced. Now, everyone knows the premise of a drum, and most people understand the basic idea behind a guitar, but how many people know how speakers work? It is among the most universal means of transmitting sound under raw vocal speech, so it should be known how they function.

What Is A Speaker?

how speakers work

In simple terms, a speaker is a device that produces and amplifies sound from electrical signals inputted into it. Practically every source of electrically produced sound comes from one form of a speaker or another. From televisions to telephones, speakers are an ever-present factor in the life of a modern citizen. Due to speakers being so common, it is easy to overlook the details behind them. Many people don’t know the first iteration of our modern speaker was developed as a prototype in 1921 by C.W. Rice and E.W. Kellogg. They filed the patent in 1925, and the basic design still holds up today.

The prototype came at a time of rising demand for electrical communication. It was the Roaring Twenties, the age of the radio and the rise of the television. With all this innovation, standard horns used on record players simply would not suffice. Today, electric speakers are everywhere. Every phone, every television, every building with an intercom relies on this precious technology. It is the method we transmit and amplify information in the form of audio. Really makes one think about how speakers work.

How Sounds Work

how speakers work

Before the details of how speakers work as a sound producer, it is important to discuss how sounds themselves work. Sound exists as a wave, a reoccurring event that acts as a disturbance which is emitted from one object, passes through a medium of transmission and is picked up by our ears and perceived as sound. Air is the most identified medium, though the sound may pass through solids and liquids, though not as smoothly. When the medium is air, the disturbance is a rising and falling of air pressure caused by the vibrations of the object emitting the sound. 

Sound waves, being waves, have a certain set of properties. The details surrounding these properties are what let us distinguish one sound from another. The properties of a sound wave are as follows:

  • Frequency
  • Wavelength
  • Amplitude
  • Envelope
  • Harmonic Content

Frequency deals with how often the wave takes place. This is most often determined by measuring how far apart one peak in the wave is from another. One peak to another is one wave. Counting these in a given space determines how frequently the wave occurs, hence “frequency.” Frequency is measured in a unit called a Hertz, which represents how many waves occur in a second. 

In regards to what we hear, differences in frequency are differences in tone. As frequency goes up, so does the pitch of the sound we hear. Human ears can’t hear all frequencies, however. The human range of hearing is approximately 20 to 20,000 Hertz. For reference, dog whistles sound off at a range of 23,000 to 54,000 Hertz. 

Wavelength is the inverse of frequency and is used to describe each individual wave. A shorter frequency means each individual wave must be longer in order to occupy the same space at the same time. It is also important to note that sound waves travel at a constant speed, known as the speed of sound or the sonic barrier. 

Amplitude is the measure of the size of the disturbance the wave consists of. In the case of sound, this is described as volume. If the wavelength is the length of the wave, the amplitude is the wave’s height. In essence, it is the intensity of the disturbance. 

Envelope describes the changes of amplitude a frequency across the duration of the singular sound. This is part of what helps distinguish a note played on a guitar compared to the same note on a piano. It describes the chronological parts of the sound in terms of attack, decay, sustain and release. 

Lastly, harmonic content details the simultaneous components of the sound. For example, when an A note is played on a piano, there are more notes present in the sound then the frequency associated with A. The frequency of the A note is simply the loudest frequency played, and is referred to as the fundamental. Without the other frequencies, or overtones, there would be nothing but what is called a sine wave, the simplest form of sound. 

It may be interesting to note that sound is not necessarily real, in the sense that it is not a property of anything that exists. Sound is just something we perceive as a result of real things, such as sound waves, interacting with each other. Color is similar in that even though, for example, specific wavelengths of light exist, and we perceive those wavelengths as specific colors, the colors themselves are only a construct of our minds to perceive the world. 

How Speakers Work

how speakers worl

Now that the details concerning sound itself are covered, the technology in which those sounds are produced may be properly discussed. The simplest way to convey how speakers work is to say produce precise, electrically controlled vibrations rapidly. Naturally, there is a bit more to it than that. 

The structure of a speaker is fairly basic. The diaphragm is a cone-shaped piece typically made from plastic, cloth or a light metal, and is the piece that vibrates to produce sound. It is held within the framework of the speaker by the surround, a piece of elastic material that keeps the cone secure while still allowing it to vibrate. On the inside, the diaphragm is connected to the voice coil, a wound piece of metal, typically iron, that causes the diaphragm to move. The wires that feed electricity into the speaker as a whole connect directly to this coil. Behind it is a permanent magnet of strength proportionate to the speaker’s size and category. 

When electrical signals are fed into the speaker, they pass through the coil, turning it into an electromagnet of an intensity corresponding with the electrical signal. The electromagnet then will be pulled toward and repulsed away from the permanent magnet in rapid succession, which in turn will vibrate the diaphragm in a specific way. Every time the cone is pushed out and pulled back in as it vibrates, it creates a wave of air pressure, which results in a sound. 

The speed at which the vibration travels through the diaphragm of the speaker determines the produced frequency. With this in mind, speakers are generally set into three basic categories: midrange, woofers, and tweeters. Midrange is the common ground and produces a range of frequencies near the center of the spectrum. Woofers are bigger, and thus a vibration takes longer to travel through its diaphragm. This makes them the best at producing low-frequency sounds. Conversely, tweeters are best at high-frequency sounds, since their small size makes the vibrations much quicker. 

The volume of the produced sound has to do with how much power is behind each vibration of the diaphragm. This primarily has to do with the amount of power being fed into the electromagnet. Simple enough, more power means stronger vibration means louder sound. Naturally, there are other factors as well. The strength and condition of the permanent magnet behind the voice coil plays just as big a role in how much it and the electromagnet repel and attract each other. 

Another key component of a speaker’s performance is its enclosure, or simply the housing in which the main components are kept. This plays a role when it is considered that since the diaphragm moves back and forth to vibrate and create a sound that sound is projected both outward and inward. The type of enclosure deals with the sound projected inward. 

Sealed enclosures, where no air can escape the interior of the speaker, can only project the outward sound. However, the shifting in air pressure in the sealed space is constantly applying pressure to the diaphragm, helping it snap back to its resting position before the next sound is played, resulting in a more precise speaker. On the other hand, bass reflex enclosures have an opening in the front, directing the sound projected inward back out, projecting more sound overall at the cost of the precision benefit of the sealed enclosure.  

Why Know How Speakers Work

Speakers are everywhere, in phones, televisions, radios, even car speakers and digital alarm clocks. They are as essential to the modern world as screens and much more common. They help us make the most of our sense of hearing every day and, in doing so, help us just a bit make the most of our lives.

Are Your Headphones Crackling When Plugged into the Computer?

You’ve just set your playlist, plugged in your headphones and you’re now ready to enjoy some relaxing time. However, wait, a crackling sound won’t let you play your music in peace. What could be the problem?

Nothing sucks like a steady stream of pops and snaps when you need to concentrate. Here’s a look at why headphones crackle when plugged into the computer and how to fix the crackling sound when using the headphones.

What Causes the Crackling Noise?

A crackling or static noise indicates that some parts of your sound system have malfunctioned. A broken headphone speaker could be due to listening to music in high volumes, poor wiring, long-term wear or physical damage.

A media player with wrong EQ settings could lead to crackling in headphones. Setting too high bass or treble can max out the volume which could cause a popping noise in your headset.]

Also, having loose wires on your headphones is another cause of the crackling noise. Headphones have thin layers of rubber entwined around thin conductive wires which transmit electrical signals to and from the speakers. A bent rubber casing can disconnect the wired which could result in crackling sound.

Having a defective auxiliary port or a headphone jack can cause crackling headphones. Test your headphones on different AUX ports to see if the problem is the port or your headphones.

 

Try some new headphones!

No products found.

How to Fix Crackling Noise in Headphones

Here’s how to fix the crackling noises in your headphones:

Check Your Audio Format

Sometimes the crackling could be due to having poor audio quality. Check this by right-clicking the speaker icon and tap on playback devices. Double click the default playback device with a green icon. Select your sound quality from the advanced tab.

Change the audio quality to 16 bit and click on okay to see if the problem stops. Also, you can try a different audio format level if the problem persists.

Update Sound Drivers

Outdated sound drivers can be the cause of the popping sounds. Your computer manufacturer’s site has the latest drivers. Download them and install to see if the crackling stops.

Use a Different Port

Connect your headphones to a different port to determine if the issue is with the port. Some headphones get static at the front port and not from the back due to hardware interference. If the headphones work correctly when using another port, your other port could be the problem. Fix any loose connection and check if this works.

Clean the Jack with some Rubbing Alcohol

Use a cotton swab and a small amount of rubbing alcohol to clean the jack. Allow it to try before you plug it in and check if this solves the problem.

Why Does Siri Keep Coming on When I have Headphones In?

When listening to your favorite audio or podcast, interruption is the last thing you want. Unfortunately, sometimes when using an iPhone, you may notice that Siri randomly pops up when you have your headphones. Checking the connector and connection, everything seems okay, and the audio output is working well.

However, having Siri come on when you jack in the headphones can be annoying. Here’s a look at why this happens and how to solve this problem.

Reasons Why Siri Comes on When you Have Headphones

Pressing the home button without an intention activates Siri. You may notice Siri makes frequent pop-ups when you plug in the headphones. If you accidentally press the home button when plugging in the headphones, this can activate Siri.

Also, pressing the play and pause button on the headphone for a long time can cause Siri to come online. A loose connection could also have the same effect. Using third-party headphones can activate Siri.

How to Fix the Problem

Here’s how to fix the problem.

Turn off Siri

If Siri is on, it could come on when you plug in the headphones. Turn off the feature by going to settings and clicking on Siri. Tap on off, and this ends the app. Furthermore, you can have a passcode that prevents any apps from getting access to the lock screen. You need to launch the settings app and select passcode.

Tap on Siri where you’ll need to enter a passcode before opening passcode preferences pane. Turn off the Siri option from the pane to disable it from the lock screen.

Invest in a Different Pair of Headphones

Some headphones have an activation action which when pressed repeatedly could activate Siri. You could instead opt for a pair without the activation button to see if this will fix the problem. A malfunctioned activation button could lead to this problem and buying a different pair of headphones could change this.

Change Your Voice Feedback Settings

Although switching off Siri could help for some time; you’ll still deal with Voice Control. You need to tune the Voice Feedback settings in iOS. Access this by going to general settings, click on Siri and tap on Voice Feedback.

Change the always on setting to hands-free or ring switch option to prevent Siri from making random outbursts when you need silence.

With the hands-free option, you only get feedback when you’re connected to headphones or when you have Hey Siri enabled. Control ring switch mode only works when you have your iPhone on silent mode.

No one wants to draw unnecessary attention in a silent place. The above options should help you fix this problem. If it persists, contact Apple Support for more information.

How Speakers Work? The Complete Speaker Knowledge You Need To Know

People like to listen to things. Listening comprises one-fifth of our sense-based perception, so this is only natural. Also, since we are also very curious by nature, we tend to like to listen to new things. 

To this end, people have developed innumerable ways of creating new sounds, and the dawn of the modern age made sharing these new sounds much easier. That said; it is important to know how such sounds are produced.

Now, everyone knows the premise of a drum, and most people understand the basic idea behind a guitar, but how many people know how speakers work? It is among the most universal means of transmitting sound under raw vocal speech, so it should be known how they function.

What Is A Speaker?

White Speaker on Table

In simple terms, a speaker is a device that produces and amplifies sound from electrical signals inputted into it. Practically every source of electrically produced sound comes from one form of a speaker or another. 

From televisions to telephones, speakers are an ever-present factor in the life of a modern citizen. Due to speakers being so common, it is easy to overlook the details behind them.

Many people don’t know the first iteration of our modern speaker was developed as a prototype in 1921 by C.W. Rice and E.W. Kellogg. They filed the patent in 1925, and the basic design still holds up today.

The prototype came at a time of rising demand for electrical communication. It was the Roaring Twenties, the age of the radio and the rise of the television.

With all this innovation, standard horns used on record players simply would not suffice. Today, electric speakers are everywhere. Every phone, every television, every building with an intercom relies on this precious technology.

It is the method we transmit and amplify information in the form of audio. Really makes one think about how speakers work.

How Sounds Work

Before the details of how speakers work as a sound producer, it is important to discuss how sounds themselves work. Sound exists as a wave, a reoccurring event that acts as a disturbance which is emitted from one object, passes through a medium of transmission and is picked up by our ears and perceived as sound.

Air is the most identified medium, though the sound may pass through solids and liquids, though not as smoothly. When the medium is air, the disturbance is a rising and falling of air pressure caused by the vibrations of the object emitting the sound.

Air Analogue Missing Board

Sound waves, being waves, have a certain set of properties. The details surrounding these properties are what let us distinguish one sound from another. The properties of a sound wave are as follows:

  • Frequency
  • Wavelength
  • Amplitude
  • Envelope
  • Harmonic Content

Frequency deals with how often the wave takes place. This is most often determined by measuring how far apart one peak in the wave is from another. One peak to another is one wave. 

Counting these in a given space determines how frequently the wave occurs, hence “frequency.” Frequency is measured in a unit called a Hertz, which represents how many waves occur in a second.

In regard to what we hear, differences in frequency are differences in tone. As frequency goes up, so does the pitch of the sound we hear.

Human ears can’t hear all frequencies, however. The human range of hearing is approximately 20 to 20,000 Hertz. For reference, dog whistles sound off at a range of 23,000 to 54,000 Hertz.

Wavelength is the inverse of frequency and is used to describe each individual wave. A shorter frequency means each individual wave must be longer in order to occupy the same space at the same time.

It is also important to note that sound waves travel at a constant speed, known as the speed of sound or the sonic barrier.

Amplitude is the measure of the size of the disturbance the wave consists of. In the case of sound, this is described as volume.

If the wavelength is the length of the wave, the amplitude is the wave’s height. In essence, it is the intensity of the disturbance.

Envelope describes the changes of amplitude a frequency across the duration of the singular sound. This is part of what helps distinguish a note played on a guitar compared to the same note on a piano.

It describes the chronological parts of the sound in terms of attack, decay, sustain and release.

Lastly, harmonic content details the simultaneous components of the sound. For example, when an A note is played on a piano, there are more notes present in the sound then the frequency associated with A.

The frequency of the A note is simply the loudest frequency played, and is referred to as the fundamental. Without the other frequencies, or overtones, there would be nothing but what is called a sine wave, the simplest form of sound.

It may be interesting to note that sound is not necessarily real, in the sense that it is not a property of anything that exists. Sound is just something we perceive as a result of real things, such as sound waves, interacting with each other.

Color is similar in that even though, for example, specific wavelengths of light exist, and we perceive those wavelengths as specific colors, the colors themselves are only a construct of our minds to perceive the world.

How Speakers Work

Now that the details concerning sound itself are covered, the technology in which those sounds are produced may be properly discussed.

The simplest way to convey how speakers work is to say produce precise, electrically controlled vibrations rapidly. Naturally, there is a bit more to it than that.

The structure of a speaker is fairly basic. The diaphragm is a cone-shaped piece typically made from plastic, cloth or a light metal, and is the piece that vibrates to produce sound

frequency diagram

It is held within the framework of the speaker by the surround, a piece of elastic material that keeps the cone secure while still allowing it to vibrate. On the inside, the diaphragm is connected to the voice coil, a wound piece of metal, typically iron, that causes the diaphragm to move.

The wires that feed electricity into the speaker as a whole connect directly to this coil. Behind it is a permanent magnet of strength proportionate to the speaker’s size and category.

When electrical signals are fed into the speaker, they pass through the coil, turning it into an electromagnet of an intensity corresponding with the electrical signal.

The electromagnet then will be pulled toward and repulsed away from the permanent magnet in rapid succession, which in turn will vibrate the diaphragm in a specific way.

Every time the cone is pushed out and pulled back in as it vibrates, it creates a wave of air pressure, which results in a sound.

The speed at which the vibration travels through the diaphragm of the speaker determines the produced frequency. With this in mind, speakers are generally set into three basic categories: midrange, woofers, and tweeters.

Midrange is the common ground and produces a range of frequencies near the center of the spectrum. Woofers are bigger, and thus a vibration takes longer to travel through its diaphragm.

This makes them the best at producing low-frequency sounds. Conversely, tweeters are best at high-frequency sounds, since their small size makes the vibrations much quicker.

The volume of the produced sound has to do with how much power is behind each vibration of the diaphragm. This primarily has to do with the amount of power being fed into the electromagnet.

Simple enough, more power means stronger vibration means louder sound. Naturally, there are other factors as well. The strength and condition of the permanent magnet behind the voice coil plays just as big a role in how much it and the electromagnet repel and attract each other.

Another key component of a speaker’s performance is its enclosure, or simply the housing in which the main components are kept.

This plays a role when it is considered that since the diaphragm moves back and forth to vibrate and create a sound that sound is projected both outward and inward. The type of enclosure deals with the sound projected inward.

Sealed enclosures, where no air can escape the interior of the speaker, can only project the outward sound.

However, the shifting in air pressure in the sealed space is constantly applying pressure to the diaphragm, helping it snap back to its resting position before the next sound is played, resulting in a more precise speaker. 

On the other hand, bass reflex enclosures have an opening in the front, directing the sound projected inward back out, projecting more sound overall at the cost of the precision benefit of the sealed enclosure.

Why Know How Speakers Work

Speakers are everywhere, in phones, televisions, radios, even car horns and digital alarm clocks. They are as essential to the modern world as screens and much more common.

They help us make the most of our sense of hearing every day and, in doing so, help us just a bit make the most of our lives.