An Introduction to Anechoic Chambers

Do you ever have moments when you crave complete and total silence? It’s a luxury that can be hard to find but that’s exactly what an anechoic chamber is designed to offer.

These special chambers absorb every single reflection of both sound and electromagnetic waves. They are rooms where you’ll not only hear no external noise, echoes will also be prevented to create a room that is unusually quiet.

The first example of an anechoic chamber was built at Murray Hill in New Jersey in 1940. A room with a unique design made of fibreglass wedges to absorb sound reflections, its brick and concrete walls blocked out noise from the outside, while the room itself sat on a sunken pit. The floor consisted of a wire grid that was intended to absorb shocks and get rid of any external vibrations. It’s a model that’s still used on the anechoic chambers of today.


What are anechoic chambers used for?

These totally silent chambers are used for a whole host of different situations and depending on their purpose, the size of the chamber can range from that of a microwave oven, to one of an aircraft hangar. The electret microphone was invented in an anechoic chamber and this can also be used to simulate concert hall acoustics, to measure the directivity of loudspeakers and microphones, to test antennae and radars, to test the loudness of products, to perform psychoacoustic experiments and more.


That’s not all. Spending time in these rooms with no external stimuli can be disorienting – which is why they’ve proved the perfect place for NASA to send astronauts to help them adapt to the silence they’ll find in space. Anechoic chambers have also been proven to be beneficial for mental health, especially among those who are hypersensitive to sound. For those who are autistic or who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anechoic chambers are places where they can sit and relax to gain some relief from over-stimulation of the brain.


The quietest place in the world

One of the world’s best-known anechoic chambers is at the Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Its claim to fame is that it is acknowledged for being the quietest place on Earth – so quiet, in fact, that measuring sound levels in the chamber gives a negative reading. Orfield Laboratories CEO Steven Orfield says that they challenge visitors to spend time in the chamber, where it’s so quiet that you can hear your own heart beating and sometimes even the activity of your lungs. The lack of sound is so disorienting that the longest anyone has managed to stay in the chamber is just 45 minutes and it’s such an unusual place that people travel from far and wide to experience it for themselves.


Are you craving some peace and quiet? With over 35 years’ experience in acoustic solutions, Sound Planning is proficient in the design, manufacture, consultancy and installation of noise control products and equipment for a wide variety of sectors and applications. For more information about our services that are available throughout the UK, please give us a call.


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