Inside the quietest room in the world

By Mark Prigg For Dailymail.com In Redmond

If you crave peace and quiet, it could be the ultimate destination.

Deep within Microsoft’s Redmond campus is the quietest place on the planet – and Dailymail.com was able to step inside. 

The record-breaking room is used by the tech giant to do everything from tuning its headphones to making your mouse clicks sound perfect.

However, the firm has found is it too quiet for most people - and nobody has been able to spend more than 45 minutes inside.

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Known as an anechoic chamber, it is a small room measuring 21ft (6.36m) in each direction. It is designed to be as perfectly quiet as possible, to allow engineers to tune audio devices and sound in perfect conditions

Known as an anechoic chamber, the small room measures just 21ft (6.36m) in each direction.

The chamber is within six concrete layers, each up to 12 inches thick, that help to block out sounds from the outside world.

The walls, floor and ceiling are covered in giant wedges of fiberglass foam to eradicate any echoes.

The chamber floats on 68 vibration damping springs and is mounted on its own separate foundation slab to cut it off from the rest of the building

Inside the chamber, the floor is made from the same steel cables used to stop fighter jets as they land on aircraft carriers, arranged like a net above the foam wedges underneath.

The world record attempt measured the room at -20.3 decibels.

The few outsiders who have entered it have complained of everything from becoming disturbed by the loudness of their own breathing to ringing in the ears and deafening stomach gurgles. 

‘Some people come in for a minute and want out immediately,’ Hundraj Gopal, Microsoft’s principal human factors engineer, and the man who led the team that built the anechoic chamber, told Dailymail.com.

‘People can’t handle it, it rattles their brains, it’s sensory deprivation.’

Gopal said the record for staying in the room, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the quietest on Earth, is short.

‘This is the quietest place on the planet, and the most someone has been able to stay in is 45 minutes.’ 

‘Just the chamber cost us $1.5m, which shows you how serious we are about audio.’ 

Known as an anechoic chamber, it is a small room measuring 21ft (6.36m) in each direction.

The few outsiders who have entered the room have complained of everything from becoming disturbed by the loudness of their own breathing to ringing in the ears and deafening stomach gurgles

Deep within Microsoft’s Redmond campus is the quietest place on the planet – and Dailymail.com was able to step inside

Before entering the room, I was warned to expect my guide to sound different. Once inside, it’s an incredible change - voices sound flat and even the tiniest sound is amplified. 

However, nothing quite prepares you for the moment the lights go out, and the massive door shuts, leaving you inside the quietest room on Earth in complete darkness. 

It’s incredibly disorientating. 

Suddenly the sound of your own breathing, and that of anyone nearby, is incredibly loud. 

Even brushing your shirt creates a seemingly loud noise, and the tiniest internal sound - from a stomach gurgle to the creak of a joint as you move, is intensified to an uncomfortable level.

The pitch blackness and the total silence combine to form a brutal sensory deprivation that is a completely alien, and uncomfortable, environment.

I found I was hyper-aware of even the tiniest sound, and aware of my own body sounds - an unnerving experience.

It’s also a very strange experience to leave, and takes a few minutes to adjust to the cacophony of background sound we live with every day.

It is designed to be as perfectly quiet as possible, to allow engineers to tune audio devices and sound in perfect conditions. 

The chamber is within six concrete layers, each up to 12 inches thick, that help to block out sounds from the outside world. 

The walls, floor and ceiling are covered in giant wedges of fiberglass foam to eradicate any echoes. 

The chamber floats on 68 vibration damping springs and is mounted on its own separate foundation slab to cut it off from the rest of the building. 

Inside the chamber, the floor is made from the same steel cables used to stop fighter jets as they land on aircraft carriers, arranged like a net above the foam wedges underneath. 

‘This chamber blocks 120db, so if you had a jet engine taking off just outside, you would barely hear it,’ said Gopal. 

‘We work with engineers on everything from mouse clicks to the sound your laptop makes when the latch closes, those sounds are very important to us. 

‘We obsess over this minutiae other companies ignore. We have seven sound chambers in this building, and over 25 in the company.'

Chris Kujawski, Principal Designer in Microsoft’s Device Team, said the audio chamber was crucial to the firm’s hardware, said it showed ‘the level of craftsmanship and nuance in our products very few people know about.’