Hydrophone

A hydrophone (Ancient Greek: ὕδωρ + φωνή, lit.'water + sound') is a microphone designed to be used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sound. Most hydrophones are based on a piezoelectric transducer that generates an electric potential when subjected to a pressure change, such as a sound wave. Some piezoelectric transducers can also serve as a sound projector, but not all have this capability, and some may be destroyed if used in such a manner.

A hydrophone can detect airborne sounds, but will be insensitive because it is designed to match the acoustic impedance of water, a denser fluid than air. Sound travels 4.3 times faster in water than in air, and a sound wave in water exerts a pressure 60 times that exerted by a wave of the same amplitude in air. Similarly, a standard microphone can be buried in the ground, or immersed in water if it is put in a waterproof container, but will give poor performance due to the similarly bad acoustic impedance match.


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