What Is the Difference Between Loud and Soft Sounds?

Denise Cheng/CC-BY-2.0

Loud sounds are sounds that are high in volume and soft sounds are those that are low in volume. Sound is a type of vibrating pressure that is transmitted in waves. The volume of a sound is directly determined by the amplitude of its sound waves, which is the height of a sound wave. The amplitude and volume of a sound increase as the height of the sound waves increases.

Some examples of loud sounds include lawn mowers, clapping hands and yelling. These sounds are produced by a large amount of energy being converted to sound, which increases the amplification of the waves. Soft sounds, contrarily, are produced by a small amount of energy being converted to sound, which decreases their volume. Whispering and a cat’s purr are soft sounds.

Volume is perceived by small hairs in the ear vibrating in reaction to sound waves. Listening to loud sounds over long periods of time can be damaging to the ears and decrease sensitivity to sound. People in professions that expose them to loud sounds, such as construction or music, can preserve their hearing by wearing ear protection at work, which decreases the energy and amplitude of sound waves. Some studies suggest that the advent of music devices, such as iPods or the earlier Walkman, led to an increase of hearing issues from users overexposing their ears to loud sounds over a long time.