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Why is Sound so Important?

March, 2019

How important is sound? Well, it’s an integral part of our daily lives. From the alarm clock that wakes us up for work or school, to the stove timer letting us know our dinner is ready- we rely on our sense of sound to recognize these noises in order to successfully complete tasks or gain understanding. We subconsciously go about our daily lives taking cues from the sounds that occur around us. Nowadays, we even seek forms of education or entertainment that are primarily driven by sound such as lectures or live concerts. More times than not, we look for these things as well as movies, our favorite shows, and news updates on our televisions.

        When going to purchase a TV, what is the first thing that most people notice? The picture, of course! This may be because it is the feature that is most noticeably on display. Everyone typically wants the television with the best graphics and largest screen possible while remaining within their price range, and understandably so. However, one giant aspect that is all too often overlooked is the sound quality.

Did you know that your brain processes sound faster than light? While the speed of light may be faster through the air, sound information is processed more quickly to your brain than light. Therefore, you are affected by sounds before you are affected by visual. Think about that for a second. This means that when it comes to the movie or show you are watching on your household TV, what you hear will directly affect how you perceive whatever happens next visually- which makes sense. This is actually the result of an evolutionary leftover. Our distant ancestors needed to be able to process the sound of a snapping twig and instantly react to the predator sneaking up behind them. This ability has remained in our brain’s audio-visual processing. When watching a horror movie, you can usually tell when something bad is about to happen due to the change in music. The level of excitement and suspense is heightened during a car chase in an action movie when the soundtrack gets faster and louder. These types of scenes would be much less scary or interesting if they were silent, wouldn’t they? Sound plays a leading role in the overall experience, and shouldn’t be ignored.

Take a moment to watch the short clip below, and experience just how much sound affects how you feel about what you see.