There is a speaker in the living room, and close by in the kitchen there is a ceiling speaker playing audio from the same source.

Why can I only hear audio from the kitchen if I am in the kitchen? Even the bass form the sub woofer just disappears when I am in the kitchen.

The speakers are not the same.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ First, there's not enough information in your question for anybody to answer it. One way to provide some of that missing information would be to actually measure the sound pressure level in your kitchen with just the kitchen speaker turned on, and then again with just the living room speaker turned on so that you have real knowledge of how much of the sound that you hear is due to either of the two sources. But then, once you have that information, this probably will turn out not to be a Physics problem, but a question about human physiology---how we perceive sounds in our environment. $\endgroup$ Feb 25 '21 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @SolomonSlow - this could involve masking: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory_masking $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Feb 25 '21 at 20:58

Here is why.

Your ears respond logarithmically to sound intensity, as measured in decibels. A 3 decibel increase in sound strength requires a doubling of the power of the sound source, and that +3dB increase happens to be just barely perceptible to your ear. Furthermore, if you double the distance between a sound source and your ear, the intensity of the sound is decreased by 6dB.

These two facts mean that in practice, the closer of two equal-strength sound sources will be strongly favored by your ear: we say that closer sound source masks the distant one and if the difference in sound pressure levels between them is 6dB or greater, the weaker of the sources becomes impossible to hear.


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