The modern work place is often open, busy and noisy. Nearly 80% of offices today are open-plan systems. This open space and team environment has many benefits in terms of collaborative thinking and more cost effective spaces, but there are often unintended consequences. Cubicles and loosely divided workspaces let the sound of speaker phones, computers and conversation drift up and out into the workspace. All this noise is often distracting, cuts productivity, and privacy is hard to come by.

And it’s not just offices that face this problem. Hospitals, pharmacies, law firms, educational facilities and others where you need privacy and productivity in an active, open environment also have this issue.

Traditional acoustics are only part of the answer. Today, when architects and space planners want to increase productivity and privacy, sound masking is a major part of the solution.

Sound Masking works by providing a constant, fixed level of unobtrusive background sound that covers, or dulls the intrusiveness office noises and speech. They produce a pattern of sound that is virtually unnoticeable in the day to day activity of a space, yet are at a level 4-5dB over the normal speech levels. This means that conversations in the cubicle next to you get “lost” in the noise, providing privacy. It also means that the distracting sound of phones ringing, computers playing media and other office equipment fade in the background, causing less of a distraction.

There’s a lot more to a sound masking system than just a few speakers and a cheap sound generator. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Careful attention to the noise patterns your masking system creates is vital. Some are intrusive and distracting and this often doesn’t show itself until you have been listening for some time. The quality and type of sound may be the single most important issue in choosing a good sound masking system
  • An even dispersion of sound is also important. To do this you’ll need a mix of speaker sizes and arrangement to best match your space. Any more than ½ dB difference from area to area becomes a distraction
  • Systems should be adjustable – sound levels change according to how many people are in a space, and the activities. You will want the ability to adjust your sound to work best with changes in your workspace
  • Consider a networked system allowing you to monitor and control sound levels throughout your facility using a network connection. Any networked system should be able to monitor not only the sound masking equipment, but the entire network, and should use standard, not proprietary network components
  • You have a choice of in-plenum systems which blends in with your ceiling panels and provide the most even coverage, or direct-field systems, which can be used in places where in-plenum are not viable

On the surface, sound masking seems like a simple installation, but it’s not a job for beginners. There’s a science to getting the right sound, the vitally important even dispersion, and the control system to all work together both with your existing audio and paging systems, and with your space. An experienced integrator has the tools and experience of many, many installations to make sure you get what you really wanted from your sound masking system –more privacy, more productivity, and more peaceful workspace.

Contact us today to discuss what sound masking solutions are right for you!