What is the difference between "audio" and "sound"?

Is it possible that a beeping noise could be considered one but not the other?

  • 2
    If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make an audio? Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 14:18
  • I'm not an English language professional, but I searched for the difference between Image and Picture. I found picture Implies to the visual meaning of the subject, so the picture may be in my mind, but an image is any physical shape of the picture. I think maybe the same relationship exists between Audio and sound. So may I think about audio as a physical stored shape of sound. This is the comparing Image and Picture link: quora.com/…
    – QMaster
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 12:12

3 Answers 3


Audio is a more technical term, referring to sound coming from a recording, transmission or electronic device.

Sound is a more generic word and can be caused by any source.

So, if the beeping noise is coming from an electronic device, it could be considered audio, but usage is important. You would rarely refer to a specific, discrete noise as "audio". You could say:

They raise the audio for TV commercials.


I hear a beeping audio.

Sounds incorrect

I hear a beeping sound.

Would be better. Or:

I hear beeping in the audio transmission.

Or, depending on context, using audio as an adjective may be acceptable:

I hear audio beeping.


Audio is more generally considered to mean artificially generated sound specifically.

  • Not sure why this was voted down - the usage is more complex, but as a simple rule of thumb this is OK...
    – psmears
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 8:17
  • Audio is typically sound produced or amplified electronically, but not necessarily recorded or played back. The sound at live events is managed the AV (audio/visual) guys.
    – John Satta
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 11:35
  • also, sound is pretty much universally the perceptible vibration of air. Audio can travel through wires or get decoded from a memory medium. So: vocal chords -(sound)-> microphone -(audio)-> speaker -(sound)-> ear.
    – SF.
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 12:48
  • Audio does not need electricity. The first phonographs were purely mechanical. Also not all artificial sounds are audio. Many acoustic instruments are quite artificial (e.g. piano, saxophone, etc), yet do not generate audio. In a nutshell, audio is an simply an encoding of sound. Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 0:23

From Wiktionary:

Noun audio (uncountable)

  1. A sound, or a sound signal

Noun sound (plural sounds)

  1. A sensation perceived by the ear caused by the vibration of air or some other medium.
    Nobody made a sound.
    He turned when he heard the sound of footsteps behind him.

  2. A vibration capable of causing this.

  3. (music) A distinctive style and sonority of a particular musician, orchestra etc

It appears that the word 'audio' is used to specify a particular implementation of a sound, i.e. as in a digitally created sound, whereas 'sound' is the object itself.

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