The Quietest Place on Earth

Anechoic chamber

For many people, it may feel like the quietest place on Earth is right in front of them after telling a bad joke. In reality, the quietest spot on our planet has people cracking up for a totally different reason…

You’ve probably noticed that the world is getting louder by the day. Traffic, noise at work and ever-present technology means that nowadays our ears rarely get a minute to themselves. While that may be true, nature doesn’t exist in a vacuum and our brains have gotten used to there always being some degree of background noise around us. Although technology may be the cause of a whole host of new noises, it is also responsible for the design of the quietest place on the planet.

Orfield Laboratories is an acoustics testing facility based in Minnesota, USA and their anechoic chamber has been certified by acoustic consultants & Guinness World Records as the official quietest place on Earth. Anechoic means ‘without echo’ and anechoic chambers are designed to stop any reflections, which are normally present, from bouncing back to the listener’s ear via the floor or walls. This is achieved through the use of ‚’radiation absorbent material’, made using different shapes and absorbing materials, which act to break up sound waves they come into contact with. Of course, the chamber being positioned behind two vault-like doors and a foot of concrete, steel and fibre-glass also helps to give it a background noise reading of -9.8 dB! While that may not sound particularly impressive, it is worth bearing in mind that the average public library has a background noise of approximately 30 dB…

This means that all of the bodies normally inaudible noises became very audible indeed, making the anechoic chamber far from your typically quiet and relaxing getaway. In fact, the Orfield chamber is so quiet that it acts as a sensory deprivation unit. The typical sounds and cues that people use to orientate themselves are completely absent, making the chamber extremely uncomfortable to be in for long periods of time. Members of the team at Orfield challenge visitors to spend time in the chamber, with a journalist currently holding the record of 45 minutes.

Typically, the chamber is used by acoustic consultants and commercial companies who want to test their products in as close to ‚’true silence’ as it is possible to get.