The World’s Quietest Room Is a Scary, Unbearable Place

With everything moving at such a crazy pace in this day and age, we all crave a little peace and quiet from time to time, but how quiet is too quiet? A chamber inside Microsoft’s Audio Lab holds the Guinness record for the world’s quietest room. It’s a strange place that reportedly causes people to begin hallucinating. Most people find the absence of sound deafening, feeling a sense of fullness in the ears, sometimes with ringing. Very faint sounds become clearly audible because the ambient noise is exceptionally low. Once the background noises are completely gone, the ears detect the faintest of sounds, and even breathing takes on an eerie feel. The longest continuous time anyone has spent inside the chamber is about 55 minutes, with most people asking to leave after just a few seconds. It turns out that being able to clearly hear your internal organs and the blood coursing through your veins isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world. Just how quiet is the room? One of the lowest sounds a human can hear is calm breathing, which clocks in at 10 decibels. The anechoic chamber is rated 20.35 decibels under the threshold of human hearing. The chamber consists of 6 layers of concrete and steel and sits atop an array of vibration-dampening springs. Fiberglass wedges cover the walls and ceiling to break up sound before it can bounce back. The floor consists of suspended, sound-absorbing cables, and the entire place is cut off from the rest of the building and the outside world. Unfortunately, the lab is not open to the public. It’s used by Microsoft to test a variety of audio gadgets, like microphones, receivers and speakers, and to test the clicks and hums of other computing devices.