TOUR GUIDE NOTES…
Quiet’s a wonderful sound,
Sweeter than oboe or fiddle.
Someday I’m gonna be found
In the middle of quiet.
— “Quiet” by Melvina Reynolds
The above songwriter will appreciate being found in the middle of Orfield Laboratories’ Anechoic Chamber in Minneapolis, for it is called “The Quietest Place on Earth.”
“Anechoic” means “no echoes.” This is the place to ponder the mystery of quiet.
Minneapolis, like much of the world, is noisy. The sounds of a city can be deafening. An ambulance siren registers 120 decibels (dBA). 70 dBA is considered the threshold for safe sounds.
Within Orfield’s thick, multi-layered, irregular-textured walls, the sound level is at minus 13 dBA. Most of us can only detect sounds down to 0 dBA. Most of us have never “heard” this much quiet!
President Steve Orfield (pictured in the chamber), says “It represents that little church you want to get into to avoid all the noise and relax.”
Orfield Labs has been around for more than 40 years, the world’s only multi-sensory design research lab, which, beyond acoustics, adds audio visual, daylighting, lighting, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality: all areas of human perception.
Tour groups enjoy the rare experience of being in a completely soundless anechoic chamber. Guided tours can also include a visit through the recording studios and labs.
Wouldn’t this be a great mystery tour destination?
by Doug Rosenquist, Retired Tour Guide, Twin Cities Tours