Sound masking is the addition of an unobtrusive background sound, similar to airflow, to reduce the intelligibility of human speech and reduce distractions. The resulting environment leads to greater productivity and increased privacy and comfort.
Sound masking is the only acoustical treatment that addresses all sound paths. The acoustical effect of walls, carpets, and ceilings are static; sound masking can be tuned and adjusted as needed. Adding sound masking to an open office space is the acoustical equivalent of tripling the distance between workers.
The goal of a well-designed speech privacy system is to achieve speech privacy in an office environment. Simply put, speech privacy is the inability of an unintentional listener to understand another person’s conversation. So, people with a lack of speech privacy are overhearing lots of conversations that they shouldn’t be, which is, understandably, quite annoying to employees.
When we look at acoustical related complaints of office workers, we find that most complaints center on the idea that others can hear our conversations, or that we can hear others’ conversations (a lack of speech privacy). Rarely is the problem that there is simply too much noise in the environment
Masking speakers are installed such that one cannot discern where the masking sound is coming from. Typically, upward-firing speakers installed above-suspended ceilings uniformly fill the occupied space below. Speakers can be installed above suspended ceilings, below raised access floors and an open structure.
Masking systems reduce conversational distractions while increasing worker concentration, productivity, accuracy, and satisfaction. Today’s green buildings introduce new acoustical challenges. Adding sound masking can help solve the lack of privacy caused by decreasing workstation heights and less room absorption.