# Eli5: Why do earbuds sound so different when you take them off? Shouldn’t they sound the same, just lower?

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Eli5: Why do earbuds sound so different when you take them off? Shouldn’t they sound the same, just lower?

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Sound doesn’t travel well. As you get further from the source the volume doesn’t decrease in a linear way, the volume decreases *exponentially*.

That is to say, if you can hear a sound at a certain level from 5 feet away, at 10 feet away it will be more than twice as quiet.

> The inverse square law states that with every doubling of distance away from the sound source, the sound will be four times less intense.

Additionally, the speakers in an earbud are very small. And additionally additionally, they’re installed very close to your ears in an enclosed space.

We could get into how different tones like bass v. treble travel differently, but I would say distance and size of the speakers are the biggest players here.

Sound doesn’t travel well. As you get further from the source the volume doesn’t decrease in a linear way, the volume decreases *exponentially*.

That is to say, if you can hear a sound at a certain level from 5 feet away, at 10 feet away it will be more than twice as quiet.

> The inverse square law states that with every doubling of distance away from the sound source, the sound will be four times less intense.

Additionally, the speakers in an earbud are very small. And additionally additionally, they’re installed very close to your ears in an enclosed space.

We could get into how different tones like bass v. treble travel differently, but I would say distance and size of the speakers are the biggest players here.