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Another reason it is important to plot the weak terms on a logarithmic scale is because of the ear's sensitivity to a large range of sound pressures. Here is a sine wave with a very weak harmonic added. While you can barely see the harmonic on the plot (it shows as a slight wiggle added into the fundamental), you can clearly hear it as a high-pitched tone (click the Sound check to turn on the sound). The fundamental and harmonic differ in power by 26 dB. By contrast, the ear can hear pressures ranging from nearly 0 dB to 130 dB.

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Generated Tue Sep 9 2008