I'm new to audio processing and I hope here be a good place to ask about the definition of terms in this context.

My question is what is difference between sound, audio, voice, speech and tone, from both technical and mathematical point of view?


1 Answer 1


My own interpretation:

Sound: a mechanical wave that propagates through the air or water.

Audio: sound in the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range; in other words, sound that is (at least in theory) audible to a large number of humans.

Voice: sound produced by the human vocal tract.

Speech: intelligible voice (i.e. not grunts or screams)

Tone: signal dominated by a single frequency, even if it has harmonics.

Music: Harmonious, pleasant audio produced by man-made musical instruments. Often accompanied by song, which is audio just like music but produced by a human singer's vocal tract.

Musical tone: a tone produced by a musical instrument or singer.

Musical note: one of a particular, finite set of musical tones that, when played in combination, produce a pleasant auditory experience.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it will get any better than your interpretation; of course, one could argue about subtleties, but if an author wants to do that, they'll have to define these terms themselves. $\endgroup$ Jul 20, 2019 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for answer. Could you please add your interpretation for Music, Musical tone, and Musical note according to above interpretation? @MBaz $\endgroup$
    – sci9
    Jul 20, 2019 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ In sound, you may have forgotten the whales $\endgroup$ Jul 20, 2019 at 20:17
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    $\begingroup$ @LaurentDuval Indeed I did! Fixed. $\endgroup$
    – MBaz
    Jul 20, 2019 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ I would add, and frequently use (pun alert) "pure tone" for a single sinusoidal. "pure tone" without a modifier refers to "pure real tone" whereas I think "pure complex tone" should always retain the modifier unless it is in a well defined situation only contains complex signals. $\endgroup$ Jul 20, 2019 at 21:06

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