Our tympanic membrane (a.k.a. our eardrum) and a microphone are both devices that measure sound intensity. When a sound arrives at our eardrum or at the diaphragm of a microphone, either of which has a certain surface area, the power in that area (i.e. the intensity) is detected. However, the intensity of a sound, as measured by an eardrum or a microphone, will differ depending on the distance from the sound's source, because the sound is being emitted from the source in all directions.