General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is there a mirror for sounds?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10902points) November 30th, 2016 from iPhone

Light can be reflected. Sound bounces off objects. So is there a surface or material that acts as a sound mirror?

I know sound waves can accomplish this effect, but I am asking if a material can.

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17 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

You answered your own question: Sound bounces off objects.

Different materials will reflect sound in different manners, much as light can reflect in a different manner off of different materials.

If you go into a good concert hall, you will see how sound engineering can manipulate how sound is spread.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Yes, this is what an echo is. Also it can be “mirrored” via an amplifier and repeater. There is also a device that will focus sound into a beam. I saw a demonstration and it was freaky. You could only hear once it hit an object and scatteted. It made it sound like you were hearing things that were not there. To this day it was the coolest thing I have ever seen heard.

zenvelo's avatar

If you want to experience a sound reflection/focusing, visit a whispering gallery.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Yes, but is any solid material just as sound reflective?

zenvelo's avatar

@Ltryptophan No, different materials reflect different sounds in different intensities. Just as a window is not as reflective as a polished mirror.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

just as sound reflective…

…as a mirror, with a near-perfect image.

I think so. I’ve heard the whispering gallery at the US capitol building.

But sound disperses in all directions, so you need a curved reflector to bounce the energy back to one spot (your ear).

Britain had listening dishes on the coast to hear aircraft before radar was invented. I googled for pictures and found they were called acoustic mirrors

LuckyGuy's avatar

In some of our applications we have features on the walls to cancel sounds coming from sources and directions other than directly from our transducers. We figure the interface between any two dissimilar materials and or phase will reflect sound.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Now, thinking about my previous answer…

I can’t see why parabolic reflector would be necessary for sound, but a flat mirror works for light.

cazzie's avatar

This is why I put my cheap speaker in a metal dish on it’s side.

marinelife's avatar

Echoes? Audio recordings?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@zenvelo so which material bounces sound back best?

zenvelo's avatar

@Ltryptophan I am not an expert. My experience tells me harder surfaces reflect sound better, while softer material absorbs.

People use carpeting and draperies to dampen sound.

This picture of Davies Symphony Hall in Sa Francisco show thick plastic tuning boards used to reflect the orchestral sound to the audience.

BellaB's avatar

Some basic stuff on the acoustics of Koerner Hall


Call_Me_Jay's avatar

harder surfaces reflect sound better, while softer material absorbs.

It’s just like bouncing a ball.

If you throw a rubber ball at a blanket or a thin piece of plexiglass, the energy moves the blanket or plexi and the ball does not bounce back as well. Sound bounces the same.

If you throw three balls at a rough jagged rock, they bounce off in different directions. not all straight back at your. Sound bounces the same.

BellaB's avatar

Isn’t physics grand!

Really. I kind of love it.

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