Interference of Sound

Two traveling waves which exist in the same medium will interfere with each other. If their amplitudes add, the interference is said to be constructive interference, and destructive interference if they are "out of phase" and subtract. Patterns of destructive and constructive interference may lead to "dead spots" and "live spots" in auditorium acoustics.

Interference of incident and reflected waves is essential to the production of resonant standing waves.

Interference has far reaching consequences in sound because of the production of "beats" between two frequencies which interfere with each other.


Visualization of phase
Interference with a tuning fork
Index

Traveling wave concepts

Sound propagation concepts
 
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Interference with a Tuning Fork

If you strike a tuning fork and rotate it next to your ear, you will note that the sound alternates between loud and softas you rotate through the angles where the interference is constructive and destructive.

Each tine of the fork produces a pressure wave which travels outward at the speed of sound. One part of the wave has a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure, another lower. At some angles the high pressure areas of the two waves coincide and you hear a louder sound. At other angles, the high pressure part of one wave coincides with the low pressure part of the other.

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Traveling wave concepts

Sound propagation concepts
 
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Phase

If a mass on a rod is rotated at constant speed and the resulting circular path illuminated from the edge, its shadow will trace out simple harmonic motion. If the shadow vertical position is traced as a function of time, it will trace out a sine wave. A full periodof the sine wavewill correspondto a completecircle or 360 degrees.The idea of phase followsthis parallel,with any fraction of a period related tothe corresponding fraction of a circle in degrees.

Index

Traveling wave concepts

Sound propagation concepts
 
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Interference and Phase

Interference of soundVisualization of phase
Index

Traveling wave concepts

Sound propagation concepts
 
HyperPhysics***** Sound R Nave
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