Orfield Laboratories, the quietest place in the world

Sita Dahal

Orfield LaboratoriesWikimedia Commons

It's officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the quietest place on Earth - with a background noise of -9.4 dBA in the test measurement room. Steve Orfield, president of Orfield Labs, said it was so quiet that some people would go crazy, especially since the staff usually sits visitors in the lobby in the dark while eliminating beeps and lights, which can be distracting. Very disorienting. The lab had people sitting in dark rooms.

When you've been there for thirty minutes -- and that's different for different people -- you can hear your heartbeat clearly, and if you have good hearing, you can hear your lungs. The quieter the room, the more you can hear objects around you. You get sane in space and it can be so disorienting, disorienting that it can cause problems for people who are standing up.

Downstairs there is a room within a room, within a room, and so it is unusually quiet here. An anechoic chamber is said to have a degree of silence that is 1/16th of even the faintest whisper, measuring 20 decibels.

Microsoft engineers built a room known as an anechoic chamber to help them test new hardware they were developing, and in 2015 set an official world record for silence when background noise inside was measured at 20.6 decibels. It is so quiet that in 2005 it entered the Guinness Book of Records when it recorded a reading of minus 2.5 decibels. This place is 99.99% soundproof and holds the Guinness World Record for being the quietest place in the world, but if you stay too long, you may start to hallucinate.

This is achieved with 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double-insulated steel walls, and one-foot-thick concrete. The room, located at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, is known as the "anechoic" (literally "anechoic") room and took two years to design.

Visitors who spend time in one of the quietest spaces on Earth can feel their joints moving, their hearts pounding, their necks creaking, and their lungs swell. For some, the complete silence in the room was almost terrifying. According to Orfield, entering a room can be a little confusing or creepy.

Within minutes, visitors can begin to hear their body sounds, from bone rubs to heartbeat and lung sounds, Oldfield said. But while it may seem like a sanctuary for meditative bliss, few people can stay in one room for long. The lab's founder explained this in an interview with Hearing Aid Know, where he told people what sounds people start to hear even in the quietest places on Earth: "We encourage people to sit in dark rooms—a People. 45 minutes in there when nothing else can fill the space, the sound of your heart, stomach, and even lungs can become deafening.

In Orfield, the most distracting thing is not the noise, but the silence. In Orfield, it seems that the best entertainment is not the hype, but the silence. These days it seems like everyone is looking for peace. Everyone is looking for a small, quiet place from time to time to find solace and respite from the hustle and bustle of the crowded and hectic world around us.

Staying for a while in a quiet place, you can almost feel that you are reaching nirvana. Orfield saw visitors to the anechoic chamber "reclaim their brains" and find peace. A man with autism told him, "I haven't felt this good in years," he recalls. Silent periods may help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders, he says, but more research is needed in this area.

Anechoic chambers are primarily used commercially: companies use them to test the sound levels of products such as pacemakers, defibrillators, or other implantable devices. Companies test their products to see how loud they are.

NASA sends astronauts to help them adjust to the stillness of space. When people don't want to set a world record, companies use anechoic chambers to test their products, and NASA even sends its astronauts to help them adjust to the stillness of space.

The room is also considered a highly disorienting place, and it is often difficult for people to line up, stand up straight, or even walk. I have been to many soundproof hearing test rooms where you notice the absence of noise, almost feel the silence. Having a quiet room means that Orfield and his team can test quiet things. But these days, Orfield is more interested in talking about how the room can help people with PTSD, autism, and other types of hypersensitivity.

Soon after installing the anechoic chamber, in addition to the building (the former home of Sound 80, where Bob Dylan re-recorded five Blood on the Tracks), Orfield installed a $20,000 microphone whose measurements down to minus 2.5. decibel. Orfield explained as we entered that, unlike most other rooms of its type, this is a fully sound-anechoic room, which means all six sides are equipped with sound-absorbing wedges. The insulating chamber, placed on a series of anti-vibration springs, is clad in six layers of concrete and steel to help block all sounds from the outside world.

To make the environment quiet, several sets of heavy walls isolate the innermost room, preventing outside noise from entering. You have to go through three doors to get into the room because it's a room within a room. It doesn't look like a potential torture chamber until the vault doors close behind you and the lights go out. The concrete bunker now holds the Guinness World Record for the quietest place in the world, after stealing that title from another Minneapolis chamber that is -9.4 decibels.

Orfield Laboratories offers a tour of our facility, highlighting its previous incarnation as Sound 80 Studios "The World's First Digital Recording Studio" and the subsequent additions of our Acoustics Lab and the world-famous quiet place on earth "Anechoic chamber". These can be lectures related to the Orfield tour, or a full entertainment tour covering the history of Sound 80 Studios, as well as the history of Orfield Labs and its work in sensory, spatial, and product development. According to Stephen Orfield, the facility hosts two tours a week.

Dusty metal tracks can be seen right at the entrance, and nearby builders often make a lot of noise by putting up test walls in the nearby sound lab. While you can walk on the cables themselves, Orfield put a sheet of plywood on top of them for easier walking, and a chair and tools when used as a gem-anechoic (or partially anechoic) chamber. It is difficult for Orfield himself to stay in a room for more than 30 minutes.

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