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Eckel Industries

Innovation

Microsoft Sets Guinness Record for Quietest Place on Earth With Eckel Anechoic Chamber

Do you hear something? No? Good!

Published: Monday, October 26, 2015 - 12:02

(Eckel: Cambridge, MA) -- Microsoft now holds the Guinness World Record for Quietest Place on Earth, and Eckel Noise Control Technologies helped the tech giant get there.

Microsoft is known as a leader in computer and electronics research and development, and continually invests in upholding that reputation. So, when the company needed a new anechoic chamber for audio and device testing at its Redmond, WA, Audio Lab, the engineers aimed to create a truly state-of-the art acoustic environment. What they didn’t realize was this: they were designing something truly unique—the absolute quietest room on the planet.

In March, 2014, Microsoft contracted with Eckel to design and build the chamber. Installation began at Microsoft Building 87 in May, 2014, under the direction of Eckel’s installer, Viking Enterprises of Waterford, CT. Eckel completed the entire project in July, 2014 (which also included constructing two smaller anechoic chambers).

“We designed this and other super-quiet acoustically controlled chambers to engineer and build best-in-class audio products at Microsoft. We use these facilities for designing products like the Surface, HoloLens, and Cortana, that we take great pride in,” says Hundraj Gopal, Ph.D., Microsoft principal human factors engineer.

Independent tests of the main chamber by professional sound specialists from Brüel & Kjær confirmed that—at –20.6 dB—Microsoft and Eckel had shattered the previous world record for Quietest Place on Earth and far surpassed engineers’ prediction of –16 dB. The previous record was –13 dB (held by an Eckel anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis).

To provide some sound context, the theoretical noise produced by Brownian motion—the random movement of particles in air—is the quietest known sound outside the vacuum of space, and is measured at –23 dB. Calm breathing comes in at +10 dB; rustling leaves at +20; normal conversation at +60, and a jet plane takeoff at +150 (at a distance of 25 m).

“This chamber gives us the opportunity to look for those really small signals that can have an impact to the end user,” says LeSalle Munroe, Microsoft senior engineer, surface devices. “We always want to have the best tools available for the job. And that’s what this is. It’s a great accomplishment.”

Anechoic chambers are echo-free environments with a sound absorption level between 99 percent and 100 percent. They are used for acoustic measurements in a wide variety of R&D applications. The record-setting chamber’s walls, ceilings, and door are fitted with Eckel’s sound-absorbing anechoic wedges. Anti-vibration mounts isolate the chamber from the rest of the building’s foundation.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the results of our chamber for Microsoft,” says Eckel vice president Jeff Morse. “Not only did we fulfill the requirements they needed for their testing, but we were able to deliver a facility that set a new world record. We couldn’t be more honored to have been part of this exciting project.”

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About The Author

Eckel Industries

Since 1952 Eckel Industries has provided state of the art noise control products and systems for industries, government agencies, schools; Acoustic test chambers, anechoic chambers and reverberation rooms. Architectural acoustic panels, modular panel noise control enclosures and engineering and design services.