Introduction to Sound: Acoustics for the Hearing and Speech Sciences

Fifth Edition

Charles E. Speaks

Details: 460 pages, Two-Color, Hardcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-759-1

© 2026 | Available

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Featuring an exciting new chapter on several aspects 
of speech acoustics by Raymond D. Kent, PhD!

With a new chapter, the classic textbook, Introduction to Sound: Acoustics for the Hearing and Speech Sciences, is back in a fifth edition and continues its aim to teach fundamental concepts of acoustics to students in communication sciences and disorders and related disciplines. Students of speech-language-hearing science must have a thorough understanding of the elements of acoustics before they can successfully embark on more advanced study of both normal and disordered human communication.

The text is known for how acoustical concepts have been made understandable for all students, not just those who are already grounded in mathematics and physics. Coverage includes the nature of sound waves, simple harmonic motion, acoustic impedance, scales of measure, logarithms and antilogarithms, sound intensity and pressure, complex waves, resonance and filtering, distortion, sound transmissions, speech acoustics, and room acoustics. 

Key Features

  • Summaries, Notes, and Practice Problems end each chapter 
  • Bolded key terms throughout with end-of-book glossary
  • Alphabetical listing of selected equations
  • The numerous equations are displayed in blue for easier reading

New to the Fifth Edition

  • A new chapter, Basic Principles of Speech Acoustics, written by Raymond D. Kent, PhD
  • A special emphasis on editing the content throughout for increased readability and comprehension

PluralPlus Online Ancillary Materials

For instructors: PowerPoint Slides
For students: Practice Problems, Acoustic Animations



Chapter 1. The Nature of Sound Waves

Properties of the Transmitting Medium
Properties of the Sound Source
Sound Source Acting on a Medium
Fundamental Physical Quantities
Derived Physical Quantities
Vibratory Motion of a Spring-Mass System
The Pendulum: An Example of Slow-Motion Vibration
Sound Wave Propagation
Types of Wave Motion
Sound Waves
Transfer of Energy
Frequently Misunderstood Concepts
Practice Problems

Chapter 2. Simple Harmonic Motion

The Waveform
The Concept of Simple Harmonic Motion
Dimensions of the Sine Wave
Frequently Misunderstood Concepts
Practice Problems

Chapter 3. Acoustic Impedance

Review of Simple Harmonic Motion
Acoustic Impedance
Practice Problems

Chapter 4. Scales of Measurement, Logarithms, and Antilogarithms

Scales of Measurement
More on Exponents
The Concept of Logarithms and Antilogarithms
Antilogs and Logs
Procedures for Solving Log and Antilog Problems
Practice Problems

Chapter 5. Sound Intensity and Sound Pressure: The Decibel

Absolute and Relative Measures of Acoustic Power
Sound Intensity
The Decibel
Sound Pressure
The Relation Between dB IL and dB SPL
Units of Measure for Pressure
Conversion From One Reference to Another
Combining Sound Intensities From Independent Sources
Summary of Decibels for Sound Intensity and Sound Pressure
Frequently Misunderstood Concepts
Practice Problems

Chapter 6. Complex Waves

Fourier's Theorem
Periodic Waves
Aperiodic Waves
Waveform and Spectrum
Examples of Complex Sound Waves
Measures of Sound Pressure for Complex Waves
Signal-to-Noise Ratio in dB
Frequently Misunderstood Concepts
Practice Problems

Chapter 7. Resonance and Filtering

Resonance and Filter Curves
Acoustic Impedance and Resonance
Frequency-Selective Systems: Filters
Parameters of a Filter (System Transfer Function)
Idealized Rectangular Filter
Types of Filters
Specification of Level at the Output of Filters
Another Look at Selected Types of Noise
Frequently Misunderstood Concepts
Practice Problems

Chapter 8. Distortion

Frequency Distortion
Amplitude Distortion
Transient Distortion
Practice Problems

Chapter 9. Sound Transmission

A Free, Unbounded Medium
The Inverse Square Law
Other Phenomena in Sound Transmission
Frequently Misunderstood Concepts
Practice Problems

Chapter 10. Basic Principles of Speech Acoustics

Modeling the Source
Modeling the Filter
The Spectrogram
Linear Prediction Analysis
The F1-F2 Plot
Acoustic Properties
Acoustics in Speech Technologies
Acoustics in Speech Technologies
Practice Problems

Chapter 11. Room Acoustics

Absorption and Reflection
Room Acoustics
Speech Intelligibility: An Overview
Psychophysical/Behavioral Assessment of Speech Understanding
Physical/Predictive Assessment of Speech Understanding
The Design/Redesign Team
A Closing Comment
Practice Problems

Answers to Practice Problems

Alphabetical Listing of Selected Equations



Charles E. Speaks

Charles E. Speaks, PhD, is a Distinguished Morse-Alumni Professor Emeritus in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from Ohio University and his PhD degree from the University of Michigan. He taught an undergraduate/graduate-level course in acoustics at the University of Minnesota for 39 years and developed an undergraduate course on the physics and biology of spoken language. Dr. Speaks was awarded a Distinguished Teacher Award by the College of Liberal Arts in 1977 and a Horace T. Morse-Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education in 1997, and he was inducted into the University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 1999. Dr. Speaks also was awarded the Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2002.

Learn More

Introduction to Sound: Acoustics for the Hearing and Speech Sciences, Fifth Edition comes with access to supplementary student and instructor resources on a PluralPlus companion website.

The companion website is located at:


The student resources include practice problems and acoustic animations.

To access the resources, you must register on the companion website and log in using the access code located in the front of your textbook. If you purchased an eBook directly from Plural accessible on the Plural eReader, the resources are accessible within the Plural eBook.  


To access the instructor resources, you must contact Plural Publishing, Inc. to be verified as an instructor and receive your access code.


            Tel: 866-758-7251 (toll free) or 858-492-1555

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ISBN13: 978-1-94488-363-8

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ISBN13: 978-1-63550-061-5

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ISBN13: 978-1-63550-328-9

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Details: 275 pages, B&W, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-525-2

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