If you are looking for a bit of peace and quiet, you might want to try the newly-built audio laboratory at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. Designated as the quietest place in the whole wide world, this specially-designed anechoic (meaning, free from echo) chamber has an unbelievably low average background noise of -20.6 dBA (decibels A-weighted), and is used for testing the company’s new gadgets and audio technologies.
The room is one of three anechoic sound chambers that make up Building 87, in the Microsoft North Campus. The largest and also the quietest of the three, it is built atop a foundation of springs, which in turn keeps vibrations from external noise to an absolute minimum. The interior of the room features strategically-placed soundproofing wedges that absorb any noise reflected inside the chamber. The company’s spokesperson said:
All the sounds are absorbed. To give you a rough idea, the Brownian motion – that is, a random air particle in space – is around -23dBA. You can’t get any quieter because that’s just the air particles moving. We are on the edge of what [are] the limits of physics.
According to the Guinness World Records, until 2012, the title as the quietest place on Earth was held by the Anechoic Test Chamber at Minneapolis-based Orfield Laboratories. It has an average background noise level of around -13 dBA. When it comes to noise reduction technology, the earliest record was that of -9.4 dBA, set way back in 2004.
The Microsoft chamber is currently being used to test the Cortana digital assistant app, in order to further develop the software’s ability to recognize and handle audio inputs and outputs.
Source: Guinness World Records