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

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 start hallucinating.

With everything moving at such a crazy pace in this day in age, we all crave a little peace and quiet from time to time, but it seems absolute quiet is absolutely terrifying. Luckily, it’s something you don’t have to experience, unless you want to challenge yourself because the only place you can experience total silence is in an anechoic chamber. There are only a few of them in the whole world and the absolute quietest of them all is inside the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Virginia. Rated at -20.35 dBA, this room stops all outside noise, making any sound produced inside sound downright eerie.

Photo: Microsoft

“As soon as one enters the room, one immediately feels a strange and unique sensation which is hard to describe,” Hundraj Gopal, a speech and hearing scientist, and the designer of Microsoft’s anechoic chamber, told CNN. “Most people find the absence of sound deafening, feel a sense of fullness in the ears, or some ringing. Very faint sounds become clearly audible because the ambient noise is exceptionally low. When you turn your head, you can hear that motion. You can hear yourself breathing and it sounds somewhat loud.”

Of course, if you focus on it, you can hear yourself breathing anywhere, but the background noises constantly surrounding us usually cause our ears to ignore such insignificant sounds. However, once inside the anechoic chamber, with no background noise at all, the ears adapt to detect even the faintest sounds, and things get strange really fast.


“The longest continuous time anyone has spent inside the chamber is about 55 minutes,” Gopal said. “I have noticed that there are several folks who can stay inside for 30 minutes or so. But others have asked to go out within the first few seconds.”

It turns out that being able to clearly hear your internal organs isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world, and experiencing the quietest room in the world is even scarier with the light off, because you literally need to stay put, since the absence of sound causes people to lose their balance.


But just how quiet is the world’s quietest room? Well, think of it this way, in a quiet room, one of the lowest sounds a human can hear is calm breathing, and that clocks in at around 10 dB. The anechoic chamber at Microsoft headquarters is rated at 20.35 dBA, or 20.35 decibels under the threshold of human hearing.

Microsoft’s anechoic chamber consists of six layers of concrete and steel and sits atop an array of vibration-damping springs. Inside, fiberglass wedges cover the walls and the ceiling, in order to break up sounds before they can bounce back. The floor consists of suspended, sound-absorbing cables. The entire place is also cut off from the rest of the building and the outside world, to reduce the chances of any sound making it inside.


Those brave enough to test themselves in the world’s quietest room will be disappointed to learn that Microsoft’s anechoic chamber isn’t open to the public. It is used by the tech giant to test a variety of audio gadgets, like microphones, receivers, and speakers, and to test the clicks and hums of other computing devices.

However, if you can settle for the next best thing, the former world’s quietest room, an anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs in Minneapolis is actually open to the public.