Basic Audio is a free introductory textbook to the basics of audio physics and electronics. See the editorial for more information....


Author: N.H. Crowhurst

Although there is a big power difference from the quietest audible sound to the loudest that the ear can negotiate - about 1,000,000,000,000 times - we cannot listen effectively to both a very soft and a very loud sound at the same time. If sound A is too much louder than sound B, A drowns B out. The scientific name for this effect is masking.

Loud sounds can "drown out" or mask weaker sounds

While it is sometimes a matter of getting the sound we want to hear loud enough to be audible against a noisy background, at other times - when we want to listen to a high fidelity reproducer, for instance - our object is to get the sound loud enough so that we do not hear other, unwanted sounds. Or, more specifically, we wish to get the unwanted sounds so quiet that they cannot be heard while we listen to the music.

Last Update: 2010-11-03