In the world's quietest room, conversation sounds more like a stage whisper. In fact, the minus-9.4-decibel anechoic chamber "is the one place where what you hear is my actual voice," Steve Orfield said, barely audible from 3 feet away.
Surrounded by double walls of concrete and insulated steel covered by 3.3-foot-thick wedges of fiberglass, the south Minneapolis space is perfectly suited not only for the Guinness World Records book but also a boatload of business applications.
Thanks in part to the anechoic chamber, Orfield Laboratories has helped Harley-Davidson, Cessna, Whirlpool and Black & Decker redefine the sounds of their products. It is also working with restaurants on noise issues (inside and outside), and devising the first nursing home designed entirely for the perceptual abilities of a 90-year-old.
All of which makes it hardly surprising to hear how Orfield feels about noise. "I think noise is pollution," he said. "You have no right to do that to others any more than smokers do.