This paper describes how different sound types can be explored using the microphone of a smartphone and a suitable app. Vibrating bodies, such as strings, membranes, or bars, generate air pressure fluctuations in their immediate vicinity, which propagate through the room in the form of sound waves. Depending on the triggering mechanism, it is possible to differentiate between four types of sound waves: tone, sound, noise, and bang. In everyday language, non-experts use the terms “tone” and “sound” synonymously; however, from a physics perspective there are very clear differences between the two terms. This paper presents experiments that enable learners to explore and understand these differences. Tuning forks and musical instruments (e.g., recorders and guitars) can be used as equipment for the experiments. The data are captured using a smartphone equipped with the appropriate app (in this paper we describe the app Audio Kit for iOS systems1). The values captured by the smartphone are displayed in a screen shot and then viewed directly on the smartphone or exported to a computer graphics program for printing.

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