Working with audio can be a frustrating thing. As soon as recording begins, the likelihood of isolating the desired sounds alone is nigh on impossible. Traffic, passing airplanes, coughing from passers-by, strong winds, birds – these are all noises that frequently interfere with any recording that’s going on and dilute the process.
What if there was a way to exclude these noises from a recording session? Well, this is one of the uses of an anechoic chamber. They’re specially designed rooms that are built to be completely silent, which means anything from quiet products to loudspeakers can be tested in full confidence.
Consequently, here’s a few examples of what anechoic chambers are used for, as well as an insight into how they work.
How Does an Anechoic Chamber Work?
While anechoic chambers might seem quite intimidating and ‘specialist’ rooms, they’re fairly easy to acquire, equip and get to work in. Still anechoic does mean ‘echo free’, and so they can typically be constructed out of heavy Accrington brick to really bolster the room against outside noises, as well as to provide a literally echoless room. Rubber seals can be fitted to the doors to contain airborne sound too.
Of course, then comes the standard ‘recording room’ quirks; such as acoustic damping tiles and triangular foam, which will cover all the walls and ceilings inside to absorb all the sound efficiently. This means that those using the rooms are guaranteed to only hear the noises that they themselves produce. Any sounds made tend to be flatter, and aren’t heard in the same pitch or frequency that people hear them beyond the confines of the anechoic chamber.
What is it Used For?
It’s undeniable that people are very sensitive to sound, and often the noises that we like or do not like to hear are merely a hairs breadth from one another. It’s a very fine line to get right, so the anechoic chamber makes it that little bit more possible to pinpoint what most people could objectively consider to be a more perfect sound.
Still, there’s a deeper use for anechoic chambers too. For example, people can use these areas to study sound too. What noise would certain objects or instruments omit when they’re free of interference and echo? How receptive and accurate are microphones in detecting and recording noise? How crisp can a loudspeaker be in projecting sound? In a sense then, anechoic chambers can be used to not only record sound, but to ‘purify’ it too.
It’s a safe space where noises aren’t contaminated, manipulated or otherwise changed involuntary. Sonar returns and radio frequencies can’t penetrate the walls either. Even otherwise inaudible body noises can be heard! Additionally, the soft hum of a nifty technological device can be heard in these areas, allowing designers and manufacturers to assess how noisy their gadgets and devices are. Is it irritating, or is the odd sound a symptom of a bigger issue in the hardware? All these little details matter as it can tell people how their equipment is performing or if there’s problems, so it’s a great way to analyse sound in its purest forms.