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Solids and Metals - Speed of Sound

Speed of sound in solids and metals like aluminum, brass, concrete and more.

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Speed of sound in normal air is 343 m/s. In water the speed of sound is 1433 m/s. Speed of Sound in some common solids are indicated in the table below. Note that propagation velocities varies with frequencies. 

Solids and Metals - Speed of Sound
SolidSpeed of Sound
(m/s)

LongitudinalShearExtensional
Aluminum, rolled 6420 3040 5000
Antimony 3400
Beryllium 12890 8880 12870
Bismut 2180 1790
Brass (70% Cu, 30% Zn) 4700 2110 3480
Brick 4200 3600
Cadmium 2780 2400
Concrete 3700 3200
Constantan 5177 2625 4270
Copper, annealed 4760 2325 3810
Copper, rolled 5010 2270 3750
Cork 518 366
Diamond 12000
Duralumin 6320 3130 5150
Glass, heavy silicate flint 3980 2380 3720
Glass, light borate crown 5100 2840 4540
Glass, pyrex 5640 3280 5140
Gold, hard drawn 3240 1200 2030
Granite 5950
Iridium 4790
Iron, cast 4994 2809 4480
Iron, electrolytic 5950 3240 5120
Ivory 3010
Lead, annealed 2160 700 1190
Lead, rolled 1960 690 1210
Lucite 2680 1100 1840
Magnesium, annealed 5770 3050 4940
Manganese 4660 3830
Marble 3810
Molybdenum 6250 3350 5400
Monel 5350 2720 4400
Nickel 6040 3000 4900
Nylon 6/6 2620 1070 1800
Platinum 3260 1730 2800
Polyethylene 1950 540 920
Polystyrene 2350 1120 1840
Rubber, butyl 1830
Rubber, gum 1550
Rubber, neoprene 1600
Silica, fused 5968 3764 5760
Silver 3650 1610 2680
Slate 4510
Steel (1% C) 5940 3220 5180
Steel, stainless 5790 3100 5000
Tantalium 3350
Tin, rolled 3320 1670 2730
Titanium 6070 3125 5090
Tungsten, annealed 5220 2890 4620
Tungsten, drawn 5410 2640 4320
Tungsten carbide 6655 3980 6220
Wood (hard) 3960
Wood, longitudinal parallel with grain  3300 - 5000
Zinc, rolled 4210 2440 3850
  • 1 m/s = 3.6 km/h = 196.85 ft/min = 3.28 ft/s = 2.237 mph

In a liquid or gas only one speed is required. In an isotropic solid sound speed is characterized by

  • speed of longitudinal waves in infinite elements (elements much larger than the wavelength of the sound) 
  • speed of shear waves in infinite elements
  • speed of extensional waves along a rod (with diameter much smaller than the wavelength)

In wood the speed of sound varies with grain direction because the transverse modulus of elasticity is as little as 1/20 the longitudinal value. The speed of sound across the grain is about one-fifth to one-third of the longitudinal value. There is no recognized independent effect of species of wood on the speed of sound. Variability in the speed of sound relates to the variability of modulus of elasticity and density.

Note that speed is a scalar quantity. Velocity is vector quantity with direction.

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