- Sound Masking: The Basics
- You can't operate your business in a space that is as quiet as a library or as noisy as a restaurant.
- You must add a little sound to get the right "signal to sound" ratio.
- You know what happens when you're in a library and you move your chair or tap your pen
- The same is true in our daily workplaces: we're surrounded by too many sounds within buildings designed to be quiet. That, in a nutshell, is why most offices are so noisy. For the full technical explanation, click on the How It Works tab above.
It's easy to understand why building materials like sound-absorbing wall panels are needed. What's harder to grasp is why adding sound back into an environment gives you control of sound levels overall. By virtue of this control, you improve the functioning acoustics of a space so your employees can speak without having their conversations understood by others (speech privacy); can better concentrate without distraction (greater productivity); and more.
- How Sound Travels
- To understand sound masking, it helps to know how sound (a form of energy) travels, and the ABCs of controlling sound.
- In sum: It's impossible to absorb or block all the sound around us because some will diffract over and around partitions or travel through penetrations in walls or ceilings. Thus, sound that isn't absorbed or blocked must be covered (or masked). And it can't be masked by just any sound — it must be masked by an electronically engineered masking system that meets certain performance criteria, including the preferred criteria for speech privacy.
- Sounds Like...
- Sound masking should NOT be noisy or intrusive in any way (unfortunately some of our competitor's systems can be noisy and intrusive).
- Sound masking does NOT make work areas "louder." It actually makes them more private and comfortable.
- Sound masking systems are NOT the same as "white noise."
Masking systems DO produce a sound — and that sound should be barely perceptible. It should be non-directional and harmoniously uniform throughout a given space.
The random, ambient sound from a masking system gently overrides the sound of both incoming speech and other distracting noises, making the work environment more private and comfortable.
Most masking systems have a sound source, an amplifier, an equalizer, and speakers to carry the sound. In Lencore's Spectra™ masking systems, a microprocessor-controlled, digital broadband sound (called E-Sound™) is produced. This sound spectrum is custom-tuned and then amplified through individual speakers installed above the dropped ceiling. The Spectra™ speakers are directed upward so that the E-Sound™ filters evenly down to the space below (similarly to the way ambient lighting works), gently raising the background sound level. This method disperses the masking sound without phasing or creating hot or cold spots (see How It Works at the tab above for more details).