Acoustics / Psychoacoustics
A TONE having more than a single FREQUENCY component. For instance, a tone consisting of a FUNDAMENTAL and OVERTONEs or HARMONICs, may be said to be complex. Compare: SIMPLE TONE.
However, usage of this term is not consistent, and some writers refer to a complex tone as one having more than one PITCH, thereby emphasizing the perceptual dependence of the term. In that case, a sound may have many frequency components (such as any musical instrument note) but if it seems to have only a single pitch, it will not be called complex.
The LOUDNESS of complex tones is calculated by summation of the perceived loudness of each sinusoidal component. See Appendix F.
See also: AURAL HARMONICS, CRITICAL BAND, FOURIER ANALYSIS, FOURIER SYNTHESIS, HELMHOLTZ RESONATOR, LAW OF SUPERPOSITION, MASKING, PERIODIC, RESIDUE, SOUND SYNTHESIS. Compare: BROAD BAND NOISE, PERCEIVED NOISE LEVEL.
Spectrum of a complex tone consisting of a fundamental and harmonics.
Sound Example: Complex tone (triangle wave).Sound Example: Simple tone (sine wave).