Sound is an information-dense data type. Although it may feel antiquated in the era of video content, audio remains a primary information source for many people. Despite long-term decline in listeners, 83% of Americans ages 12 or older listened to terrestrial (AM/FM) radio in a given week in 2020 (down from 89% in 2019). Conversely, online audio has seen a steady rise in listeners over the past two decades, with 62% of Americans reportedly listening to some form of it on a weekly basis according to the same Pew Research Center study.

As a wave, sound includes four properties: frequency, amplitude, waveform, and duration. In musical terminology, these are called pitch, dynamics, tone, and duration. Sounds also help humans and other animals perceive and understand our environment, providing context clues for the location and movement of objects in our surroundings.

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