Abstract We report a non-contact and non-invasive method of sound speed measurement by optical probing of deflected laser beam due to normally incident degenerated shock wave. In this study the shock wave from an exploding wire was degenerated to an ordinary sound wave at the distance exceeding 0.23 m. Temporal resolution of the deflected beam signal was improved by passing through an adequate electronic high-pass filter, as a result we obtained a better temporal resolution than that of the acoustic pressure detection by PZT transducer in terms of rising time. The spatial resolution was improved by passing the refracted beam signal into the edge of focusing lens to make a larger deflection angle. Sound speed was calculated by monitoring the time of flight of transient deflected signal at the predetermined position. Sound speed has been measured in air, distilled water and acryl, agreed well with the published values. The sound speed measured in the solution of glycerin, magnesium sulfate (MgSO 4), and dimethylformamide with various mole fractions also agrees within 3% of relative error with those measured in the present work by ultrasonic pulse echo method. The results suggest that the method proposed is to be reliable and reproducible.