Collaboration, comfort, confidentiality; key terms in today’s workplace and essential elements to be considered in designing corporate spaces. A variety of elements can be employed to address noise control and speech privacy for added worker productivity, comfort and privacy.Collectively referred to by the architectural community as the ABC’s of acoustic design, solutions can either absorb, block, or cover sound.An effective solution may include one, two or all three methods.Designed to cover noise, sound maskingchecks the “C” box.
SOUND MASKING: WHAT IT IS..AND WHAT IT ISN’T!
In contrast toacoustic treatments which absorb noise, sound maskingis the addition of sound. Created by digital generators, sound masking is an ambient sound that’s engineered to match the frequency of human speech. It targets conversations, makingthem less distracting by rendering them unintelligible. Contrary to common belief, sound masking is not “white noise”: it does not cancel sound or eliminate all speech noise in an environment; it simply reduces the distance a conversation can travel and be clearly understood. Itsfrequency varies significantly from that of white noise.Instead, it is engineered to match thefrequency range of the human voice. When implemented properly, sound masking simply fades into the background of a workplace while making speech more difficult to hear and, more importantly, to understand.
As a means of contributing to speech privacy, Sound Maskingis a desirable solution for financial institutions, doctors’ offices, law offices, hotel lobbies and more – anywhere that involves discussing sensitive information.By rendering speech unintelligible, the privacy of students, clients and workersis protected, a critical factor that contributes to HIPPA complianceregarding patients’ confidential information.
ACTIVATING SOUND MASKING
It’s simple, human nature. You’re sitting in a room when suddenly something turns on. It’s a low, electronic hum. Is it the HVAC…an appliance…? You’re now acutely aware of it. If instead you were to enter that same space after it was already “on”, you may not have noticedit at all. That’s how sound masking should be considered. Rather than activating it while the room is occupied, it is recommended that it be activated while the staff is away. When they return, they’ll likely be unaware of its presence.For the best ongoing results, activate and deactivate automatically while the space is unoccupied.
For environmentswithwidely varying noise levels, an “active volume control” can be added to the systemto measure the conversational speech levels and adjust the system’s output as the noise levels rise and fall. With the system andenvironmental noisestaying in-sync, occupants would be unaware of any variance in sound level.
Acoustical treatments are another solution for noise control, providing absorption (A) and barriers (B) which lessen overall noise levels and reduce reverberation from hard surfaces but, unlike sound masking, does not contribute to speech unintelligibility.
So, what’s the right combination of noise control solutions? Do you want to make your office environmentmore comfortable and productive and your waiting area or private offices more secure? Call Logic Integration today to schedule a complimentary consultation for your space.