The idea that the vibrations sensed by the ear are passed through a series of smaller and smaller anatomical structures and ultimately impact on a mechanical transformer of `molecular dimensions' has been around for decades. We are now close to a complete picture of this apparatus, and the motor protein myosin Ic appears to be an important component of it. In Cell Science at a Glance (see p. 1 and poster), David Corey provides a guide to auditory sensation that demonstrates how sound energy entering the ear might ultimately be transduced and adapted to at the molecular level.