THIS week, the University of Salford has opened the doors of its anechoic chamber, also known as the quietest place on Earth. The facility is otherwise only used by students who study acoustics and for commercial testing.
Elle Kalavsky, who is the laboratory assistant at the university, is taking people inside the different facilities and in particular the anechoic chamber – which translated literally means echo-free. The room is situated in the Newton Building on the main campus and is used for different tests, such as testing microphones and musical equipment.
Patrick Froment – an ex-student at the university, used the chamber for his final project as he needed to measure the sound of a single raindrop lading on a roof. Once you enter the chamber and close it with the heavy acoustic doors with rubber seals, you can hear your own blood circulating.
“It is really fascinating! When you sit here for a while you even start to hear noises that you’ve never heard before,” says Elle who is also a placement student at the university and really enjoys showing people around.
To understand the structure, one must imagine a room within a room. The inner chamber is actually detached from the rest of the room, in order to stop sound and vibrations coming in.
She explains: “This whole construction is box in box constriction. There is about a meter and half separating the chamber walls from the outside room.”
The whole inner anechoic chamber sits on a set of springs called neoprene rubber mounts. This is to reduce the vibrations, coming from the surrounding environment. The room is also made of heavy Accrington brick combined with concrete in order to prevent any sound coming in. There is also no solid floor that you can walk on, but instead there is a wire net, which feels like you are on a trampoline. The inner walls are lined with foam wedges to absorb any sound. The bridge that leads to it is also not touching the inner wall.
The university is also investing into other laboratories such as a transmission suite (which is used to test wall construction), listening room and reverberation chamber. This is one of a few universities across the country which has such expensive facilities, which Elle believes are incredibly interesting and very useful for students.
To have a look you can pop up in room G32 or speak to a member of staff such as Elle, who is more than happy to give you a tour and explain the different use of the facilities.