What is Stress Part IV – What Can You Do

What is Stress Part IV – What Can You Do


26 APRIL 2017

written by Mike





I want to share with you a few things that helped me with stress. Nothing too extraordinary, just a few new habits that I picked up along the way.

Some replaced the old ones.

I’m still testing new stuff, trying to redesign aspects of my life. So far it works well for me, and that is why I want to share it with you.

Regular exercise

– this is a big one. In the past, my gym visits were not scheduled. One week I would go three times, another just once. No routine, no plan.

To battle my stress and depression I had to make one, but crucial decision. I didn’t want a year long plan or a 6-month workout routine. I knew it had to last for longer. The sentence I wrote down was:

“I’m going to go to the gym five times a week for the rest of my life.”

A drastic change.

Long story short I am keeping my promise. And it worked wonders. I’m sleeping better; insomnia is gone. I feel happy every day. And few first weeks were hard, but now, after over two years, it became a habit. I keep it interesting too.

One day is boxing class, another weight training, yoga and so on. It had such a big impact on every area of my life I cannot recommend it enough for you. The important thing is to stick to it. Don’t get discouraged. Take it slow, but consistent for at least three months.

And if you are not keen on joining a gym, check out this comprehensive guide on No-Gym Workout Methods to Get in Peak Shape from GroomandStyle.com

Replace cheap entertainment with neglected hobbies

– I’m sure you have something that you love to do, but you don’t do it anymore. Lack of time, yes?

Well, what about that three hours you spent on Netflix?

Think back to the times when you were a teenager. What did you enjoy doing? Schedule some time for it if you can. It will fill your head with new ideas, and stressful thoughts will go away.

Yoga and meditation

– let’s take a look a pragmatic aspect of these tools.

Yoga helps with stretching, especially when you do weights and resistance training. For me it’s a “rest day”, I work on my balance, correct breathing and posture. It also calms your mind.

Meditation is a tricky one because there are a lot of schools, techniques and tips on the subject. I think everyone should find their way. I can clear my mind while driving my car, be mindful on a cross trainer. Or even when I write this sentence.

It will help you to control your emotions and to reduce stress in a big way.



What you eat matters

– a clean, healthy diet is a must. Cut down on sugar, caffeine and junk food. And it doesn’t take that long to cook a meal either.

My personal advice would be to replace any sugar drinks with either water or green tea. I limit coffee to one small cup in the morning. And not so long ago four black, no sugar coffees a day was my fuel.

There are lots of guides and tips on good, balanced diet, but the important thing is to understand what you eat.

Focus on positive things

– at work and in your life. Yes, it gets stressful, but a good sense of humour can relax tense atmosphere in most environments.

Mistakes and errors happen to everyone, work on them and move on. There is no need to sweat the small stuff.

Take control

– plan your week in advance. Analyse what caused the stress in the past. I’m sure you can prepare some stuff now so you won’t have to worry about it later on. Simple stuff like organising your folder structure or file naming for the next project will make your workflow easier.

Giveaway control

– you can’t do it all. I know that often you feel like you have to do everything yourself. There is no other way!


When you take on too much you are prone to make mistakes, and the pressure and stress will quickly pay you a visit. Learn how to rely on other people. Trust other people and share responsibilities.

And if they make a mistake, correct them in a helpful way. I know it’s hard because I’m a control freak myself. But it will help you in a long run.


– last thing on my list. Phone in one hand, tablet in the other. And you are watching TV. I love that it is so easy to share ideas and access information in modern time. But it is also easy to get overwhelmed. For me, it was a simple walk in a park that helped. Leave your phone at home and go for a walk.

It is scary how simple that is, but I find the simplest things to be best solutions.

That’s my few cents of advice. Nothing revolutionary but it works for me.

I’m sure you can think of some other stuff that helps. My friend does sky-diving, it works for him. My brother learns how to produce music. For now, it’s an after-work hobby but you never know.

Before we finish I want to give you few more tips of battling stress that I learned from Sebastian Bailey’s book Mind Gym”.





Minimise the situation

– I guess “a storm in a teacup” is a correct saying. I try to detach myself from the stressful situation.

After a while, it gets smaller, and you will think to yourself “Why was I even stressed about this in the first place?”

Minimise the outcome

– focus on the end.

What is the worse that can happen?

Answer yourself but keep going. Question your answers. Counter them with “and then?” More than likely the worst possible outcome is not as bad as you thought it would be.

Reframe the situation

– you are stuck in traffic, and you will be late to your important meeting. Are you angry? I bet you are. But think about it from another perspective. You can’t do anything about the traffic, but you can revise your presentation in your head, it will make you more confident and prepared.

Celebrate the positive

– express your gratitude. Think about your health, your family, your friends. What are you thankful for at this very moment?

A constant reminder of all the good things that happen in your life will help you with anxiety and everyday stress.

Use your mental energy wisely

– your mental powers are limited. Do you want to use your precious resource on stress and worries? Think about it in terms of scarcity and spending. You wouldn’t want to spend the last of your money on something that makes you miserable, would you?

Take a break

– a five-minute walk outside and quick change of environment will work like a charm. If I can’t leave my office, I just look out the window and observe.

I don’t analyse what’s happening out there. I just watch it for a moment.

Seek support from friends

– sharing your problems will help. For me, this is quite hard as I tend to keep everything inside. But opening up will help you to deepen the relationships. Every one of us has problems and getting advice from a different perspective can be valuable.

Ask the right questions

– why am I stressed? What can I do to reduce this stressful situation? Is there anyone that I could ask for help?

Have I been in a similar situation before?

Asking these questions will detach you for a moment, and it will help you to analyse the situation with a clear mind.

Confront the situation

– Seneca wrote “to be brave is to be happy.” Sometimes tackling your problems head on is the best solution of all.


If you find yourself  looking for more tips on how to reduce stress, here’s an excellent article from Health Grinder, 123 Proven Ways to Reduce Stress and Relax

Stress is easy to battle when you know how. What happens around us or to us we can’t control, but the reaction is up to us.

Remember that the worst you can do is to ignore stress. Left unattended it will affect every area of your life.

I know that the subject of stress has been covered many times, but I feel that it is better to remind other people, and myself, how fragile we can be. Especially when work gets to us.

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What is Stress Part III – What NOT To Do

What is Stress Part III – What NOT To Do


22 APRIL 2017

written by Mike





I want to move onto practical side on things, how do you fight stress?

I’m going in two directions here. What to do and what not to do.

The latter is important because there are things that will only add fuel to your situation. I know because I’ve done a lot of them. It was because of my ignorance and lack of understanding the subject. If any of these things work for you, then great. I can only give opinion drawn from my experience and advice taken from people close to me.



– apart from obvious health related risks, smoking does not help with stress. Believe me. I know, because I did find myself smoking in stressful situations. And I would say to other people:

“I’m not a smoker. I just have one, max two a day.”

Yes, good one. You either smoke, or you don’t.

I realised that I didn’t crave the cigarette as much as the five-minute break. I hated the smell, the taste, the feeling after. But I would do it again and again.

Once you understand it’s just a habit, and you replace the cigarette with something else, it becomes easier to quit. It is still hard, because of the physical addiction to the nicotine, but you can do it.


– “It’s just one glass to relax, it’s fine right?” Yes, one glass of wine or beer may be ok, but it’s the conditioning of your brain that can lead to a trap.

The moment you link drinking alcohol to stress relief you should watch out. Alcohol should never be a solution for anything.

With insomnia, I would depend on alcohol as an answer to my problems. It was a long time ago, but not only it didn’t help, but hangovers weren’t pleasant either.

Sleeping pills and other drugs

– another great experience I had.

Sleeping pills are good until you can’t go to sleep without them. They can help when your sleep pattern is all over the place but be careful with them. It can take few weeks to wean off them. And the effects are not as powerful when you take them often.

Same with soft drugs. They can help you to relax but the moment you depend on them with your stress or insomnia, it’s hard to reverse that conditioning. Especially when you say to yourself stuff like:

“I’m not addicted. I always had problems with sleep, and this is the only thing that can help me.” Dangerous route.

Sleeping too much

– I never had problems with that, but I know people who did. You spend all your time in bed. Just want to go to sleep and forget about the day. Too much sleep is bad for you and will not solve anything.

Also, it can have a negative impact on your relationships with other people. And it will make you more tired. It is crazy when you think about it.



Junk food

– you are stressed, you don’t want to cook. I get it. But snacking, sugar or takeaway food can lead to stomach problems. And you will run to the toilet every five minutes. Yes, soda will give you a quick rush of energy. But the crash half hour later will be as fast.


– I love video games. I always did. But I haven’t played on my PS4 for over two years now. Why? Gaming became my escape. A bit of wine and an evening with Battlefield or Dragon Age was my way to relax.

“What’s wrong with that? It’s not harmful.”

Yes, you are correct. Until you start to neglect other stuff.

For now, I cut it out, I needed that. Binge-watching Netflix, gaming or just surfing the web without any goal is the easiest and cheapest solution to stress. But in the long run, balance is needed.

Is there something better that you can spend your time doing?

Maybe instead of watching four hours of TV you can watch one hour and pick up some other activity too. I still love games, though. I just don’t play them anymore.

Cutting off your friends and family

– when you are stressed you don’t want to talk to anyone. Why would you? They don’t understand your problems.

I have a big family, so it is harder for me to do that. But I still had a few months when I withdrew from social interactions.

I mean, you still talk to people at work right?

You need outside contact too. It can give you an awesome perspective, and you can start seeing the “big picture” again.

There were a few weeks when we worked on a big project. Everyone at work was so stressed, nothing else existed for me. After the project has ended I went to see my family and friends; we had a nice afternoon barbeque.

All I wanted was to talk about this project.

“Hey, so have you guys seen XYZ yet?”

“Yeah, it’s alright.”

“I didn’t like it.”

“No, haven’t seen it yet.”

And subject changed to something else in five seconds.


Why don’t they care?

For the last few weeks, it was my whole world. In a second, I was grounded again. The stress bubble has swallowed me whole, and I lost the connection with the real world. Don’t neglect your friends or family, they will often help you in indirect ways.

Taking out stress on others, mood swings, grumpiness – it will affect everyone around you. Then a few hours later you will be thinking to yourself

“Why did I say that? Why did I do that?”

Stress can ruin the best relationships. You may think to yourself “They don’t understand the pressure! They would do the same in my situation!”.

Well, for starters everyone else has their problems too, and you don’t know how other people would act in your shoes. Also, it doesn’t matter, taking out your problems on others is never the solution.

These are just a few thing that in my opinion do not work.

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What is Stress Part II – Symptoms

What is Stress Part II – Symptoms


19 APRIL 2017

written by Mike




So what are the signs of stress?

In the previous part, I talked about causes of stress. Let’s now discuss some of the symptoms.

You need to understand that everyone is different, some people will react to stress by sleeping all day long, others (like me) have insomnia. I guess, by the time you reach adulthood you should know (more or less) yourself and when you should be worried.

Let’s jump straight to it.


– you don’t want to talk to anyone, I would describe it as a consistent feel of unease. Constant worrying and feeling of helplessness.

Back pain

– this one can also be the result of bad posture and wrong sitting position.

Chest pains

– to that, I can relate. I would get them at work and in my bed at night.

It felt like a sharp stab, mini heart attack of sorts. It can be quite scary when you don’t know what the heck is happening.

Constipation or diarrhoea

– linked to junk food that you eat when you are stressed.

Stomach pains and lack of appetite can also occur.




– awful, horrible feeling. Some people deal with it better than others.

Depression is also quite hard to understand because people can’t see it. It’s not like a broken leg. For me, it lasted only a couple of weeks, but I felt like I didn’t want to do anything, I wanted to stay on the couch forever.

It was quite eye opening too because I always felt that I have a strong character, and I’m quite grounded. The worst were conversations with my parents:

“How can you feel sad? You have a good job, a great girlfriend, everything you wanted. Just stop making stuff up!”

It does make you feel bad because you start to think that something must be wrong with you, with your head.

With the understanding of my partner and research, I broke through it but it changed my perspective on many things. It helped me to understand how fragile our minds are.

A good friend of mine who was going through similar stuff had to seek professional help and was off work for few weeks. So do not ignore the symptoms and get help if you need to.


– you are tired all the time. It clouds your thinking and abilities. I would doubt my listening skills or during some task, my mind would wander off.

Headaches and migraine

– absolute nightmare. A painful headache in the middle of your work will ruin your day. Not to mention that productivity is gone, and you will make silly mistakes. Tablets and painkillers can help but, in the long run, a lifestyle change will need to happen.

High blood pressure

– it didn’t happen to me, but my dad is a walking example. Sugar and junk food do not help either. Watch out for these symptoms because it can lead to diabetes, a so-called “lifestyle disease”.

Trouble sleeping or insomnia

– that plays right in my ballpark. I battled insomnia for a long time. It can ruin your mood and cloud your thinking. On a third day, you will be a “walking zombie”.



Problems with relationships

– my partner has a patience of an angel. But I understand how stress can strain your relationship. Grumpiness, stupid and rude remarks, being short with another person. Or just keeping it all inside.

It will not make it pleasant for the other person to be around you.

Weight gain or loss

– overeating or lack of appetite. Both bad for your health. I cannot stress enough how junk food can affect your mood and your body. Not eating enough is also bad. It will result in fatigue, insomnia and stuff like migraines.

So these are a few indications of stress. You must understand that it is not black and white. It won’t be like,

“Oh, I got a headache, I must be stressed!”

No, it is always a mixture of things. But understanding the signs will help you to come up with a defence plan. Let’s have a look at what we can do to fight stress. I have two more parts about it, what to do and what not to do.

See you soon.

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What is Stress Part I – Causes

What is Stress Part I – Causes


12 APRIL 2017

written by Mike





The term used every day by millions of people to describe their feelings and anxieties.

We all get stressed out. And overcoming anxiety in a workplace will help you do a good job. You may dream of an awesome music career or start a design business. It does sound good on paper but with creative media, there are stressful moments too.

I would argue that small dose of stress can be good and will keep you on your toes. But prolonged condition will reflect on your work in a negative way. I know, it’s not the lightest of subjects, but I feel it is important to understand it so you can prepare how to deal with stressful times.

Let’s start with a classic, what is stress and why is it so bad for you?

Stress is your body’s defence instinct. It makes you turn the wheel just in time to avoid car collision or catch your mobile phone mid-air.

“Well, that’s good then, because of stress my smartphone’s screen is perfect!”

Yes and no.

Small doses of stress are good for you, but when it goes on for too long, it can result in bad physical, mental and social symptoms. In my case, it was insomnia, chest pains, and general distress. One of my close friends took a sick leave for depression related to stress. Another friend has mood swings and “grumpy” days.

On stressful days, your body consumes more energy. You get tired faster, but you can’t sleep. You want to do more, but you can’t focus. To the point, it starts to affect people around you. And it is bad.

According to the latest research from Harvard and Stanford Business Schools stress leads up to 120,000 deaths every year in the United States alone.

The study also looks at the negative impact on health care services and productivity.


I want to give you a little background about myself. I see myself as a calm guy that can approach problems with a strategy and plan. I don’t panic; I don’t sweat the small stuff. But I still found myself in a “stress-trap” not so long ago. A couple of years back we were working on a big film with tight deadlines.

It didn’t take too long before I started having chest pain, had troubles sleeping and begun to doubt my listening skills at work. Small problems become enormous, little mistakes seemed massive. As the stress bubble grows, it swallows more people with each day. We began to be short with each other; we lost the big picture of the project.

Your mind won’t shut; you think about your tasks before falling asleep and when you wake up. You dream about your job. And not the good kind of dreams either. When it all ended, we were drained. There was no energy left in any of us. But wait! The new project was around the corner. And the dance began again.

To me, it was a breaking point.

Lack of sleep, depression and anxiety had a big impact on my mental abilities. I could not understand why I was feeling so bad when in reality I had a good job, awesome girlfriend, and was in good health. I knew that something had to change.

Right, enough with my self-pity.

I started to research stress and techniques of fighting it. I realised two things:

Stress fuels itself.

It will make you hate your job.

You are stressed, your co-workers are stressed, your bosses are stressed and on and on and on. It is quite hard to detach from the situation when everyone around you is running like a chicken. You will hate going to work. Well, hate is a strong word, but it will be hard for you to get up every morning knowing that you will not enjoy your day.

And I don’t care how cool your job is. Stress will ruin it. In my case, I didn’t want to watch any movies anymore, even at home. The worst bit is that you worked so hard to get to that place, and now you don’t even enjoy it. Don’t worry though. The minute you realise that the job is the same, but it is stress that affects your perspective, you get out of that hole.

But we will get to that.




So what are the biggest causes of stress? According to that research paper, there are a few main ones.

Health Insurance

– or rather the lack of it. When you don’t have the health insurance, it affects your financial and family situation. You stress about things like not having enough money to cover healthcare or costs of treatments. Unfortunately, is can be a closed loop as stress will have a negative impact on your health.


– it is easy to see how it fuels anxiety and depression. I remember after I finished college and moved towns I couldn’t find any job. Not even waiting job at a restaurant. It was winter and the weather did not help. I spend few weeks on a couch feeling sorry for myself. So I agree hundred percent with that point.

Job insecurity

– it is a big one when you are on your own. “Will I get another client? What about my mortgage and family? Maybe I just become a teacher.” Sounds familiar? I bet it does. Job worries can cause a lot of stress especially when you are just starting out as a freelancer. It helps to have some extra income stream on a side.

Shift work

– again a good one in our profession. Long hours anyone? Tight deadlines and last minute changes result in longer work days and stress. A couple of years ago I had to supervise night shift freelancers on a project. It was three weeks, and it completely threw me off my sleep patterns and balance. It took some time to get back to the routine.

Work-Life balance

night shifts I mentioned earlier meant that I wouldn’t see my girlfriend for three weeks as she worked weekends. The funny thing is, we live together. We don’t have kids, but I can only imagine how stressful it can be when you don’t see your kids because of all the overtime. No wonder it is on the list.

Job control and demands

– one day you are a trainee, next you are supervising a team of people. With great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes great stress. You are not only in charge of your output but also of other people’s work quality. It can get tough.

Social support

– lack of mentorship, training, and general well-being support. We can find that in most big corporations. And yes I know there are HR department and yearly reviews and silly online tests. But in reality, a lack of proper social support means that sometimes you can feel like a number or a small gear in a big machine.

Work ethics

– favouritism, gossip, and other office politics. If you are not on good terms with your managers and colleagues, it can get stressful. No matter how good your work is.

These are of course just major causes of stress. Your situation may be different, but it doesn’t matter. Stress will make your life miserable. Well, maybe I’m too dramatic but it for sure won’t make it better.

Thanks for reading, in the next part I will talk a little about signs of stress.

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Frequency of Sound

Frequency of Sound


08 APRIL 2017

written by Mike




What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the waves?

How it travels?

What are the lowest pressure levels humans can hear?

How can we surf them?

None of the above and I’ve only tried surfing once so I can’t advise on that. I’m going to give away the answer; it’s the Hertz.

The Hertz, named after scientist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz indicates how often the particles vibrate when sound energy passes through a medium. Medium is air, water, steel and so on. Remember that vibrating particles don’t move, they pass the energy forward, sort of like an audience wave during a football match.

A hertz is a unit of vibration.

1 Hz = 1 vibration / 1 second

What you need to remember is that the particles will always vibrate at the same frequency. So, for example, you struck an awesome guitar note at 1000Hz. As the sound waves travel through the air particles will interact with each other (creating compressions and rarefactions) but the frequency stays the same, 1000Hz.

And every particle on the way will vibrate at 1000Hz. Energy from the source will have the same frequency when it gets into your ear.

Easy to remember. It stays the same.

Now, one vibration is called period. A period is either peak to peak or trough-to-trough. The period indicates one complete cycle of vibration.

So when the Moon travels around Earth, it completes its cycle. But 27 days (around that number) is a period of the Moon’s orbit. Next important thing to remember is a relationship between frequency, pitch and directionality.

High frequency will have a high pitch and will be more directional.

Low frequency will have a lower pitch and will be less directional.

So something like a bass in an EDM can be less than 200Hz with low, pumping “thump” and omnidirectional flow. It travels in every direction possible. That is why you can hear it through your neighbour’s wall the most. It is also because low-frequency waves are much longer that high-frequency waves. So in an instance of distant explosion, you are more likely to hear the low rumble rather that the full frequency blast.



 From the acoustics point of view, it is quite hard to control low frequencies. The most common solution is installing so-called “bass traps” at the end of your room, often in the corners. Their job is to absorb and dampen the low-frequency nightmare.

On the other hand, you have high frequencies. A scream of a small child will be much more directional, shorter and easier to control. From the acoustics point of view of course.

High frequencies travel in short waves and installing few diffusers and absorbers will do a decent job of stopping them. High frequencies can also add ‘air’ or ‘breath’ into the mix but more than often a nasty sibilance will drive you mad.

We also have mid-range, which are middle frequencies. These are frequencies that our ear is most sensitive to. That’s why all the instruments and vocals will fight for a place in your mid-range. I will talk more about mid frequencies when we get to EQ overview. For now, just remember that clashing mid-range will “muddle” your mix. I know, it’s a super scientific term to describe it.

Ok, so when we talk about frequency we always say about the range. We tend to divide frequencies in low, mid and high range. It helps to know these guidelines when we get to EQ.

The human ear can detect a lot of frequencies. Our listening device is so sensitive that we can detect frequency difference of 2Hz. I’m talking here about people trained in music but most of us can still detect small frequency changes.

To generalise, our frequency range is around 20Hz to 20kHz.

That is in our prime age too. When we get older, we tend to detect less and less high frequencies so the range can fall to 17kHz or less. That’s why it is important always to take care of your hearing, take breaks and wear earplugs when necessary.

That not only applies when you work with live sound. Working as a re-recording mixer for twenty or thirty years will take a toll on your hearing too. Do you know how many times I had a conversation with a mixer that went something like that:

“What do you mean it’s saturating? I can’t hear anything there!”

So yeah, it can be quite interesting.

Frequencies below our range of hearing (20Hz) we call infrasound. By using the special device a scientist can detect geophysical changes and monitor activities of volcanoes, earthquakes or avalanches.

Frequencies above our hearing range (20kHz) we call ultrasound. You may recognise the name from pregnancy or other medical tests.

High frequencies can create an image of inside organs in our body or an image of a baby by using a sonogram. Sonars in submarines also use ultrasound to detect underwater things. They send off the signal that bounces off anything that interrupts its travels, just like bats do.

It’s important to note that animals don’t perceive sounds in the same ways as we do. Elephants can go as low as 5Hz, dogs detect sounds from 50Hz to 45kHz, and cats can reach around 85kHz. There are other animals that can go extremely high such as bats (120kHz) or dolphins (200kHz). In contrast, blue whales are known to use infrasound to communicate overlong distances underwater.

It must be quite handy for them as sound travels much faster in water too.



Ok, let’s go back to differences between frequencies. As you know, it’s quite rare to hear a single frequency. Most sounds are made of low, medium and high frequencies and they are all different.

Some frequencies, when played together sound nice, other can be a cacophony. These relationships are a basis for the music system and music intervals.

Nice sounding frequency interference is called consonant, horrible ones we call dissonant.

Let’s have a look at the ratios and frequency relationships in music intervals.

Octave – 2:1 – 512Hz/256Hz

Third – 5:4 – 320Hz/256Hz

Fourth – 4:3 – 342Hz/256Hz

Fifth – 3:2 – 384Hz/256Hz

So as you can see two sound waves played at the same time can create a pleasant sound.

Not just intervals, but chords, solos and music scales are all built on frequency relationships. You don’t need to know precise frequencies to play the piano, but the knowledge becomes handy when you want to record and mix it.

Awesome tool that lets you to input your pitch data and show you the exact frequency of that note.

Pitch to frequency calculator

Before we finish, let’s quickly look at the other characteristic of a sound wave – its power. Decibel or dB is a unit used to measure the intensity of a sound (sound pressure level – SPL).

0dB is a near silence, the least audible sound.

A 3dB increase will double the level of the signal; a 3dB decrease will reduce the level by one-half.

We can describe the levels of signal with a power of ten.

10dB is 10 times as powerful as 0dB.

20dB is 100 times more powerful than 0dB

30dB is 1000 times more powerful than 0dB.

A whisper will be around 15dB, but normal chitchat around 60dB. The jet engine we can describe with around 120dB, a gunshot less 140dB.

All of we measure with SPL, sound pressure level. SPL is an acoustic pressure built up within a defined atmospheric area. So moving away from the sound and doubling the distance will reduce the power of a signal by 6dB. Moving closer to the source and halving the distance will increase the power by 6dB.

I will go more into the depth of sound pressure and waveform characteristics in the future articles.  Just like with the rest of the topics, basics are important; you can easily find a deeper analysis of them on the Internet.

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