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The sound level in the world’s quietest room is -13 decibels. 

A pin-drop is nothing. Idle for a while in the anechoic (non-echoing) chamber at Minneapolis’ Orfield Laboratories, Inc., and you might pick up on the sound of your own heart beating. As strangely cool as that is, not everyone can tolerate the average half-hour needed for their ears to acclimate to the eerie sensation of negative sound levels. “People normally walk into our minus-decibel chamber [from] a 60- or 70-decibel world,” says Steven Orfield, the research firm’s founder. The unsettling lack of auditory cues sends some folks packing in minutes. Good thing the room’s usual occupants are inanimate—the space is used for acoustic tests on items like washing machines and cellphone displays. Sounds fascinating, but we’ll seek our peace and quiet someplace louder.



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