Sound Considerations


The loudness of a sound perceived by the human ear at a certain location depends on several factors, such as : distance from the source, frequency of the sound, strength of the source, ear sensitivity, conditions of the air, etc.



The human ear is more sensitive to frequencies between 2000 and 5000 Hz.  This is why the operating frequency of alerting piezo buzzers is essentially chosen for this range.  The human ear has a logarithmically response to sound pressure, of which the unity is expressed in decibels (dB). The sound pressure level is measured with an audiometer; an instrument developed in order to give an objective indication to sound pressure.  The frequency response of this instrument is corrected by a weighing curve to match the characteristics of the human ear.  The type of the weighing curve is indicated by the symbol (A) that gives the indication dB(A).


In a free progressive spherical sound wave the sound pressure drops by 6 dB each time the measuring distance is doubled.  This condition only exists a number of wavelengths away from the source and if the source radiates spherical waves.



The character of a sound is determined by the harmonic content, the amplitude relation between the harmonics for a steady signal when the signal varies the rate of attack and decay, and the presence of resonance.



The human ear is particularly sensitive to changes in condition.  Switching on and off a sound makes it more attention-getting than a continuous sound of the same frequency.  Shifting the frequency in a rapid rate produces a similar effect.



When a pulsed sound source is placed in a reverberant room, reflections tend to fill up the pauses between the pulses.  In a large, highly reverberant room, longer pauses are necessary to produce the desired effect : a slow pulsing sound source should be used.