Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

How your ear changes sound

Description of the parts of the ear, and some sounds at different parts of the ear.
A human ear
© University of York

The diagram below shows a basic drawing of the ear.

The Human Ear Image Copyright: Duncan Williams 2013

The ear is basically split into three sections; the outer, middle and inner ear.

The outer ear is most prominently defined by the Pinna. The Pinna provides filtering which helps us to discriminate sound localisation. In other words – we can work out whether a sound is coming from above, below, in front or behind us.

It is possible to measure the filtering effect of the Pinna on the subsequent sounds which reach our ear drum.

Listen to this sound – recorded outside of the human ear.

Now listen to this sound – recorded just inside the ear canal.

This means that we are listening to the sound after it has been filtered (altered in its characteristics) by the Pinna.

Your thoughts?

Tell us what you think of the sound that is recorded just inside the ear. Did this surprise you? What does that tell you about what the brain does?

© University of York
This article is from the free online

Engineering the Future: Creating the Amazing

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education