Does Sound Travel Up or Down? Get the Facts (Today!)

Last Updated: August 10th, 2019

I’ve been in the soundproofing business for over 8 years now and this is probably one of the most common questions I get asked by my readers. I remembered at one point I just thinking about the same question and I did hours of research so I could know the answer.

In this article, I’ve put together a short informative guide addressing this question.

Does Sound Travel Up or Down

Recently I’ve asked my wife this same question and she didn’t know the answer either. What I have realized is that many people think that sound travels in one direction, that’s actually just a misapprehension.

Sounds travel in both directions up and down and because sounds are omnidirectional, it will travel in any way possible. However, there are a few factors that may impact the direction of sounds.

The best thing about sound is that you have the ability to direct it to a particular area or direction, but you should keep in mind that if any hard surface comes in the path of the sound waves, base on the thickness of the object, some of the sound wave will pass through the object while some will eventually bounce back.

If most of the sound waves bounce back from the thick surface such as the ceiling or bedroom floor, then it will lead to other problems like an echo.

If you are upstairs you’re most likely to hear low-frequency sound waves like a bass drum or rumble thunder and if you are downstairs you’re most likely to hear high frequency sounds like the chirping of birds or the voices of children.

You can check out this post on reducing vibration from subwoofer in a car

Which Sounds Travel Further?

Does Sound Travel Up or Down

You should keep in mind that some sounds tend to travel at a greater distance than others and this brings us to this question I think you may already know the answer to already.

Well, low-frequency sound waves tend to travel at a further distance than high-frequency sound. The main reason is that high frequency tends to be absorbed more and I strongly believe that this comes from a greater rate of heating the air they travel through. Also, high-frequency sound waves reflect more and hardly passes through walls especially if the wall is thick.

While on the other hand, low frequency means long wavelength and because low-frequency sounds require a substantial mass of air movement. The oscillating air pressure easily travels through things like walls, ceilings, and floors by causing them to oscillate and soft objects don’t absorb the sound energy because of the longer wavelengths.

How to Reduce the Impact of Sound

If you are living in a shared apartment and your goal is to reduce as much sound as possible coming from both upstairs and downstairs neighbors, there are few soundproofing tips you can follow to get the job done without breaking the bank.

You can check this article out on how to prevent sound from leaving room.

Which Sound Travel Fastest

The speed at which sound travel as a lot to do with what is it traveling through. Of the three medium (gas, liquid and solid) sound waves travel the slowest through gases, a little faster through liquids and the fastest through solids. Temperature also has a lot to do with the speed of sound.

Conclusion

The answer to this question is pretty complex, but as you can see sound travels both up and down and in any direction as well. There are many different factors that influence sound waves such as the environment, the type of sound frequency, the surface involved and the medium through which sound travels.

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