Audio and sound...

Thread Starter

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
1,528
My daughter asked me the difference.
I answered audio is the electrical signal and sound is the acoustical vibrational signal that can be heard. Audio is a signal carried by the wire coming from a microphone, amplifier, fed to speaker. Sound being what is perceived by ears, microphones, emitted by speakers...
Do you agree with one being the electrical and the other the mechanical or you use the terms with no distinction ?
 

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
14,235
My daughter asked me the difference.
I answered audio is the electrical signal and sound is the acoustical vibrational signal that can be heard. Audio is a signal carried by the wire coming from a microphone, amplifier, fed to speaker. Sound being what is perceived by ears, microphones, emitted by speakers...
Do you agree with one being the electrical and the other the mechanical or you use the terms with no distinction ?
On a superficial level, when used as a noun -- maybe. Both words can be used in different ways. Off the top of my head "sound" can be a noun, an adjective, or a verb. "Audio" can be either a noun or an adjective. I don't think there are many instances where they can be used interchangeably, but they do exist.

The audio quality of the speakers and amplifier was excellent.
The sound quality ...

The signal was in the audio frequency range.
The signal was in the sound frequency range.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it seems awkward.

In learning to read, Johnny sounded each word in turn
In learning to read Johnny audioed each word in turn -- don't think you can make audio into a verb.

I think the answer is complex and nuanced, but you and your daughter may not care.
 

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
10,231
In the argument over whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if there is no-one there to hear it, audio frequency vibrations only become sound when someone (something?) hears it.
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
25,260
Audio generally refers to the (human) audible frequency range of a signal in a system (usually considered to be 20Hz to 20kHz).
Thus an audio amplifier will amplify that range of frequencies (or sometimes somewhat greater).

Sound usually refers to a signal in/through a substance (air, water, solids).
It can be audible or not (ultrasonic or subsonic).
 

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
4,907
Went to my Audiologist. He said I have trouble hearing certain sounds. While speaking from ignorance, perhaps audio and ologists seem to go together in a discussion of what sounds can be heard. As for audio signals, THOSE are carried on wire or in light tubes. Other mediums also exist. Two oatmeal cans with a string tied between them.

Yes, the sounds we hear are nothing more than pressure waves in the air. As they strike the ear drum our brain interprets the sound. Sea mammals do not have ears, yet they hear. Possibly better than we do. Once I went to the dentist and he gave me some bad news; I had a cavity that would need drilling and filling. Though not wanting to give TMI, while drilling on my lower tooth I could hear the sound greatly amplified in my ear. That's how sea mammals (some of them anyway) hear - through their jaw bone.

What we perceive as sound we can name it sound OR audio signals. So to answer your daughter's question, I'd say that they are synonymous. Though using them in the spoken language, some may flow better than others, but in my opinion, they are both the same thing. As far as the question goes - I would take it to mean your daughter was asking about the difference between audio signals that can be amplified or transmitted and sound itself. Both are deep subjects.

I can recount being at school. Down the hallway they were chipping away at some concrete. I could hear the ping of the hammer and the chisel striking the concrete twice. First when the sound propagated through the concrete, then again when it propagated through the air. The speed of sound isn't a constant like light is. Sound travels at different speeds through different mediums. Whereas audio signals travel at close to the same speed whether through wires or through magnetic waves that propagate through the air. Even fiber optics transmit those signals roughly at the same speed. Light, electrons and magnetic waves are all operating at close to the same speed, whereas sound, depending on the medium, travel much much slower.

That's my 2¢.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
21,651
My daughter asked me the difference.
I answered audio is the electrical signal and sound is the acoustical vibrational signal that can be heard. Audio is a signal carried by the wire coming from a microphone, amplifier, fed to speaker. Sound being what is perceived by ears, microphones, emitted by speakers...
Do you agree with one being the electrical and the other the mechanical or you use the terms with no distinction ?
My answer is yes and no.

The two words are used interchangeably in some circles. In other fields they are distinctly different. Hence the answer is rather complex and mostly verges on semantics.

For the physicist, sound would refer to a pressure wave in any medium at any frequency. The medium can be air, water, solid, etc. The frequency can range beyond that of human hearing, from subsonic to supersonic. One can make the argument that subsonic and supersonic, by definition are not sounds. I am not going to argue with that one.

For a linguist, audiologist, psychologist, a sound goes beyond the physics of sound production and into the physiology and psychology of sound production, reception and perception. We talk about the sound of rustling leaves and lapping waves on the shore.

In audio-acoustics and audio engineering, one may use the words sound and audio interchangeably. We make a sound check or audio check before making a recording or going on air. When a sound is audible we are referring to the same phenomenon, that is we can perceive a sound or audio stimulus with our ear.

In audio electronics, we never use the term sound electronics except in reference to reliability of the electronic equipment. Sound is reserved to mean acoustic input to a microphone and acoustic output at the loudspeaker. The electrical information is referred to as the audio signal though the expression sound signal does creep in to mean the same thing. We hear sound equipment and audio equipment and they mean the same thing. Same goes for sound channel and audio channel, sound track and audio track.

Hope this helps.
 
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