The Quietest Room in the World

The Quietest Room in the World

It is a room within a room within a room; the innermost chamber is lined with 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges and floats on I-beams and springs. Both inner rooms have double walls of insulated steel; the outside walls are foot-thick concrete. The background noise level is minus 9.4 decibels. In this room, even a dog is deaf to the world outside.

The total absence of sound outside your body makes you keenly aware of what's going on inside your body. Your heart pumps. Your lungs inflate and deflate. Your ears buzz. Your blood pulses. In an anechoic chamber, you are one noisy organism. With no reverberation in the room, you have no spatial orientation cues. After about half an hour in the dark, you can become disoriented. Eventually, you might experience visual and aural hallucinations.

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5 Responses:

  1. xrayspx says:

    Herb Pilhofer, one of the founders of Studio 80, which became the Orfield quiet room, did a pretty fun double CD with Thes One from People Under The Stairs of remixes from commercial recordings Pilhofer made for various clients. Even though they're mostly just clips, I still never kick them out of iTunes DJ. It's a good example of quality hip hop artists showing genuine respect and taking the old and twisting it up. Even just the nostalgia of jingles for Pan Am and 3M and stuff is fun to hear.

  2. Mike says:

    I want to host a screening of Altered States in this room.

  3. Edouard says:

    Oh yeah - anechoic chambers with the lights off... Must do that again.

    The cool thing (uh, the other cool thing) was there was some test equipment in the room - just a power strip and a metal stand - but you could click your fingers and actually hear the echo from that as that was the only thing in the room that could make an echo. And it was a directional sound, so you could hear the objects position in space with your eyes closed (we turned the lights off later).

  4. In 1951, [John] Cage visited the anechoic chamber at Harvard University. An anechoic chamber is a room designed in such a way that the walls, ceiling and floor absorb all sounds made in the room, rather than reflecting them as echoes. Such a chamber is also externally sound-proofed. Cage entered the chamber expecting to hear silence, but he wrote later, "I heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation."

    -- Wikipedia article on 4'33"

    This became the inspiration for the infamous 4'33" of silence. The piece isn't supposed to be a joke, the point is that there is no such thing as silence.

  5. Sheilagh says:

    I wonder what a strongly-purring cat (along with a human to hear said cat) would be like in such a room!

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