Padded cell? No, it's inside of a "dead" room where there is no sound of outside world. Lining is of Fiberglas wedges that kills noises in testing sound equipment. By Robert Hazelleaf 'Wl/TIEN the kids are fighting a gun battle in the Â·Â· back yard, the TV is turned up to full volume and someone in the garage is running a power saw, who doesn't yearn for absolute silence for a while? Finding the silence, though, is quite a trick. It's not in the rear closet. Neither is it in the center hall, doors closed, completely surrounded by the rest of the house. Oh, you may think it's quiet, but attune your ears. You can still hear the din of the kids' battle, TV faintly bleating a commercial, the power saw's thin whine. It's quieter than any place else you may find on short notice, but a long way from absolute silence. A manufacturing company in Anaheim has found the answer, but it's not for us -- unless we have plenty of coin and engineering knowledge to go with it. Altec Lansing Corp., manufacturers of precision loudspeakers and microphones for public address sys- Golden Silence -$35,000 Worth Building Speakers for Your Hi-Fi Is an Exacting Science terns, theaters and home hi-fi, needed absolute silence to test their equipment and products, as well as for research. Now they have it, after spending about J35.000 in design and construction. Silence is peculiar. Most of us think we have experienced complete lack of sound at one time or another, but it's doubtful unless we've spent time in a scientifically designed "anechoic chamber" to give the correct term for a silent room. Merely walking into the room while conversing with someone is an experience. Speech has its normal tone quality until you get inside the room -- suddenly the other person sounds as though he quickly moved at least a dozen feet from you. His voice becomes muggy and dead. Your own voice changes, or seems to, sounding as though it belonged to someone else. As if this weren't enough, the chamber is downright "creepy." We are so used to "ambient sound" (that's engineering talk for sounds olways in the air) we are slightly shocked to feel the oppressiveness of absolute silence. Technicians at Altec dislike the eerie feeling as much as anyone. The sense of isolation from the outside world becomes overbearing after more than a few minutes in the chamber. Dr. Walter Fiala, chief physicist for the company, says, "If you were in the chrmber alone with the lights out, it would probably be difficult for you to keep your balance." Balance is so tied-in with our senses of hearing and sight that all perspective is lost when we are deprived of them. Some visitors to the anechoic chamber become conscious of hearing their heartbeat. Within a few minutes they think seriously about having a physical checkup. They've never heard the old ticker pump so hard, but it's almost a normal illusion in the room. For size, it's hard to imagine a room so small costing so much. Working area is 12x9x8 feet, but that is only part of the story. The size is the space remaining after 4-foot-long wedges of Fiberglas have been placed along the entire inside surface of the chamber. The wedges, tapering from about 6 inches thick at the base, come to a point which extends into the room. Tlie w e d g e s are about 30 inches wide. In appearance, one immediately thinks of a cave closely (Continued on Page 11) Size Â· of the silent chamber door is shown as Sol Shein, assistant ad- Yertising manager pi the sound equipment company, stands beside it. Phrios by the Author Monitoring equipment is prepared by Jonas Renkus. tester, for making a test oi loud speaker equipment installed within the silence room.
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