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MUSIC TO OUR EARS

Beyond-Lab-001-Article

THE LAB

TO CREATE A GOOD SOUND SYSTEM, ESPECIALLY IN A CAR, THE FOLKS AT MARK LEVINSON RISK MADNESS. IT’S BECAUSE THEY MUST CONFRONT ABSOLUTE SILENCE.

Engineers put speakers through a lot of tests on the way to your ears, and one of them is an anechoic chamber, a room insulated against sound bouncing off walls (anechoic means “without echo”). In the total absence of sound, you start to hear things that have always been there: the sound of your heart, the quickening of the blood in your veins, the eerily mechanical clicking of your many valves opening and closing. After a while, you get disoriented. You may even start hearing things that have never been there: astronauts put into anechoic chambers report hallucinations caused by the brain’s inability to deal with pure silence. Where astronauts dare to tread, that’s where good speakers are born.

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