Anechoic and Reverberation Chambers

This week I visited the anechoic chamber at the University of Auckland. The chamber was recommended because I needed to recreate an ’empty’ sound devoid of natures noise. I needed to get rid of the sound of flora and fauna such as birds, rustling trees and humming insects as well as the inner city din of cars and machines. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Engineering an anechoic chamber is:

‘A room having all surfaces covered with sound-absorbing material, often in the form of wedges pointing into the room. The aim is to simulate free-field acoustic conditions.’

Here are a few pictures of the experience:

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The anechoic chamber was an eerie, anxiety inducing experience with the absolute muteness leaving me with an overwhelming sense of self-awareness. I took several 3 minutes samples with the zoom in different parts of the room and I left so I wouldn’t tarnish the sound of ‘nothing’. Acoustically they were all similar, sounding like static. While I was there, Dr George Dodd (Senior lecturer of Architecture) suggested I use the reverberation chamber because he thought the reverberation might produce more ‘space’ like sounds. The reverberation chamber is the exact opposite of the anechoic chamber with the surfaces designed to reflect as many reverberations as possible.

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I used several objects already in the chamber to make varied foley/atmospheric sounds like blocks of wood, metal poles, a ladder and cable cords. I will combine both sounds from each chamber,

I think in the end the trip helped me to decide what the overall five speaker ensemble will be like, it will be a representation of the real experience of space combined with soft instrumental undertones to guide the listener through a narrative. I think it needs to bear some relation to the human experience in order for people to listen.

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