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Transverse Wave

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Surround Sound

Surround Sound

Credit: VIA Gallery
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15932083@N05/4680911113/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Surround sound systems give listeners the experience that they are in the middle of whatever they are watching on the screen. By carefully calibrating where the listener is with respect to the speakers, the sound system is able to accurately determine when to send the signal to each speaker to create a near perfect representation of what is being experienced on the screen.

Amazing But True

  • Surround sound is used to enhance a viewers experience by taking advantage of the how the viewer is able to identify where a sound is coming from in terms of distance and direction. 
  • Initially, most systems required that all those using the systems setup the speakers such that there is an equal distance between all the speakers and the listener. Advancements in audio sensing technology have allowed those with sub-optimal design arrangements to still experience the full surround sound effect by measuring the time it takes for sound to reach the listener.
  • These systems require the user to calibrate the system by using a listening device. This device is initially placed where their head would be positioned when using the surround sound system. By measuring the time it takes the device to hear a signal from each one of the speakers individually, the system is able to determine how much of a delay should exist when activating certain speakers.

Explore More

Using the information provided above, answer the following questions.

  1. How would your surround sound listening experience change if where you watched movies dropped 20°C in temperature? Would you notice?
  2. Is the speed of sound dependent upon the medium it is in, or is it similar to light where no medium is needed?
  3. How would an exploding firecracker sound different in outer space, compared to one exploding on Earth?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: VIA Gallery; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15932083@N05/4680911113/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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