The Sound of Silence

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Have you ever been in a quiet place? A really, really quiet place - no hum from the AC, no birds or planes or water or wind? It's weird and it's unnatural. Perfect!
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Creating real silence is hard. Companies spend thousands to build anechoic chambers where the ambient sound in the empty room is actually NEGATIVE 4 decibels. No noise creeps in from the outside world and what sound is made in the room is completely absorbed by the walls. No echo effect happens at all, which is when you realize you actually live in a world of sound and echo. Check out this article about the first one ever built.

Now, if you have read any of my other stuff, you know that I am a proponent of sound design. I am interested in making a haunt's soundtrack with the idea that one could walk through it blindfolded and still be entertained/told a story. So why silence? Because it is so unnatural and unexpected.

Odds are, even the biggest professional haunts will not actually build an anechoic chamber because it's so expensive. However, I think we can get close enough, cheap enough, that it would be worth it to some.

Probably the simplest and cheapest solution would be to just cover the walls and ceiling with furniture foam.

Egg crate foam (AKA "Convoluted foam") would be even better!

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To get maximum impact, I think the room needs to be as dark as possible to add to the disorientation.

What if we really wanted to get as close to an anechoic chamber as possible?

I'm thinking of a room filled with bright light and sound, leading to a hallway with a door at each end. The hallway is carpeted on all surfaces. It does not have to be long - even 8 feet should be enough. As they enter the hall, it is brightly lit, and of course, the sounds from the first room are still loud. As they enter, the door is shut behind them. At that point, all lights should cut out. Ideally, the sounds in the first room should stop as well.

I know this might not be possible in a "conga line" type haunt, but then again, this room would ever work in such a haunt anyway. As they enter the chamber, that door too is closed behind them.

While real anechoic chambers seem to be cubes, our bargain basement one should probably be something like an irregular trapezoid to minimize sound reflections. All the surfaces should be carpeted and the walls and ceilings should then also be covered in black egg crate material or even actual sound studio foam. This combination should reduce any outside noises to near zero and effectively muffle any sounds they make themselves. Coming straight out of a bright and loud scene should maximize this effect, as its true silence/darkness will be enhanced by the comparison.
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What you do in there for a scare is up to you. In the dark and uncanny silence, maybe you have an actor with a light. Maybe you introduce your own weird noises - from the ceiling, perhaps? Possibly you have strings or strips of cloth hanging down. Maybe you just let them grope in silence, never knowing what will come. The room itself will be disturbing. If you can force them to experience it alone, it will be even more so.

If this idea intrigues you and you want to go even deeper into making an anechoic chamber, here are some resources for you:

Have fun!

Updated 07-11-2020 at 07:42 AM by JustJimAZ