Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Why when I have music on in earphones and I have them resting on a desk, the music sounds different, like in a different tonality/pitch to when I am actually using them?

share|cite|improve this question
Related: – Qmechanic Mar 30 '12 at 9:30
The question isn't an exact duplicate, but the answer does answer this qn as well. – Manishearth Mar 30 '12 at 11:27

Ron is not far off the mark but I have always thouught it was the difference between inductive and radiative coupling. A free-standing speaker must couple all energy into the air, where the field attenutates as 1/r. In the near field zone, however, inside this wavelength, there is also the inductive field, which attenutates as 1/r-squared. If you are far from the speaker this component becomes negligible, but in the near zone, it is still effective. That's why you can transmit from the earphone to the eardrum. It still goes through the air, it's just takes advantage of the near-field effect.

share|cite|improve this answer
I don't know if this is entirely true--- it might be true for foam padded speakers. I always thought that it was contact effects, but the range of the transmission is certainly less than a wavelength, so near field effects will be important. – Ron Maimon May 1 '12 at 3:53
+1: this is the correct explanation. I deleted my answer. – Ron Maimon May 1 '12 at 12:49

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.