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Sound Masking: A Step-by-Step Guide for Businesses

by Logic Integration

Woman Annoyed by Outside Noise

At a Glance:

What Is Sound Masking?

Why Is It Important, and How Does It Work?

Sound Masking vs. White Noise

Implementing Sound Masking for the Office

Sound Masking: Next Steps

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Trust Logic Integration?

You know that feeling when you just want peace and quiet in the office, but Chris from recruitment won't stop bellowing down the hall?

Maybe you've got a vital HR meeting that can be heard a room away or a significant meeting you need your total concentration for. There are many reasons why loud office spaces make work harder for you and your employees.

In fact, the average workspace has a moderate decibel level of 50 (equivalent to consistent, loud rainfall - throughout the working day). Louder than this, your hearing can be impacted, with continued exposure to 70 decibels or more contributing to hearing loss.

Well, what can we do to change this? The answer, in short, is sound masking.

Improve Your Workspace Experience

Create a productive work environment by improving employee experience and privacy. Learn how sound masking can enhance office ambiance.

Office Sound Masking

What Is Sound Masking?

Sound masking is when background sound is added into loud spaces. Rather surprisingly, this makes the space sound quieter rather than louder. This is because the sound added reduces how decipherable speech is by matching the frequency of human speech. The ambient sound emitted by sound masking is similar to airflow.

While it doesn't entirely eliminate all sounds, it reduces speech intelligibility in conversations that are fifteen feet away or more - the so-called "radius of distraction."

Why Is It Important, and How Does It Work?

Busy Office

Sound masking is essential because it can help us to concentrate, and it can protect our hearing, too.

While sound masking reduces interference from sound fifteen feet or more away, it does not interfere with face-to-face conversations. This means the workplace is generally quieter without compromising the quality of individual discussions.

The Science

The science of sound masking is rooted in the science of acoustics. The sound emitted by the sound masking system is similar to that of softly blowing air. In other words, it is soothing to the human ear.

Even though distributed across space through strategically placed machines, these sounds blend with office chatter and noise to "mask" them. With these noises reduced, people can focus more and engage in private conversations without feeling overheard.

Why is Sound Masking Important?

This is important because sound privacy was the number one complaint among employees working in an open-plan environment surveyed by Knoll in 2019. Indeed, once an employee is distracted by noise, it can take an average of 25 minutes for the level of sound in the office to regulate.

Not only is this distracting and potentially irritating for the individuals trying to concentrate, but it also means that working time is compromised. If one employee is distracted once a day, that will consume 5.2% of an 8-hour work day - more distractions mean less time working.

To build on this even further, a study conducted between 2006 and 2008 found that sound masking increased speech privacy from 35% to 90%. It also found that 48% of those surveyed credited conversational distractions as the leading cause of workplace discomfort.

A Wider View

But more is lost than working efficiency when focussing on a loud workplace environment. Working in a quieter environment increases the sense of privacy an employee experiences. If they feel that they can have private conversations without the chance of being overheard, they can feel more relaxed in their working environment.

It can also change the design of your workplace. Sound masking technology eliminates the need for partitioned workspaces, allowing a physical space to feel more open and connected without the risk of increased noise levels. This can be great for open-plan spaces or designing a holistic working environment centered on community working.

Sound Masking vs. White Noise

Workers Busy in Office

Sound masking sounds a lot like white noise, right? Well, not really. There is quite a bit of difference between the two ambient noises. First, they run on different frequencies, with white noise spanning an audible range of 20 to 20,000 hertz and presenting like hissing or static sound. While many listen to white noise to relax before sleep, and white noise machines can be used in offices, such ambient noise levels can be distracting in a workplace setting.

Sound masking runs on a much smaller audible range of 100 to 5,000 hertz — and sometimes even reaching 10,000 hertz. Instead of playing predetermined sounds, it works on a curve tuned to the individual space, adapting to its working environment.

Implementing Sound Masking for the Office

Not Being Able to Concentrate at Work

So you're sold on the benefits of sound masking, but how do you implement them in your office environment?

Well, Logic Integrations is on hand to help you. With experience working with a range of client areas, from hospitality and corporate environments to health and fitness clubs, they are best placed to develop a sound masking system perfectly designed for your space that will successfully reduce unwanted sound.

But how do you go about installing sound masking?

Installing sound masking in an office means placing carefully designed components around the space for optimum acoustics. The systems that enable sound masking typically include generators, amplifiers, and speakers that work together to control noise levels.

These individual machines are placed strategically around the space according to the room's size, the ceiling's height, and the level of noise generated.

Here are a list of the machines that could be used in your space:

  • Sound masking, or noise generators, emit a subtle, low-level background noise that masks speech and other sounds.
  • Application software: Installed on computers and other smart devices, the application software allows you to control the sound masking system.
  • Equalizer: The equalizer changes the electric signals into the sound masking frequency appropriate for the space.
  • Speakers: These transmit the sound needed for the masking and are placed strategically around the room for optimal effectiveness.
  • Power amplifiers: These measure, control, increase, or reduce the amplitude of the sound in the room. The amount needed depends on the size of the space.
  • Controllers: These manage the transmission of the space's sound, ensuring it reacts to changing sound levels and frequencies.

Sound Masking: Next Steps

Working in a Office

Engaging the right professionals when installing sound masking in your space is essential to maximize the benefits of the process. Logic Integration has a lot of history working with very different spaces.

They have worked in private homes (like this 10,000 square foot custom built in Colorado) and hospitality settings, like The Sportsbook Bar & Grill. They have worked with the largest privately held insurance brokerage firm to implement sound technology that increases employee contentment and productivity.

Talk to Logic Integration today to discuss your space's possibilities, get a quote, and plan how sound masking can help revolutionize your workspace.

FAQs

What is the goal of sound masking?

Sound masking reduces sound levels in office spaces and increases speech privacy by reducing how understandable distant conversations are. That lovely atmosphere of co-learning and co-working remains without being distracted by everyone's independent discussions. The positive ramifications for this for both employees and employers are significant. It helps people stay focused, develops a sense of privacy, and promotes more effective working habits.

What noise is it used to mask?

Sound masking can mask conversations from colleagues or other customers and crystallize essential conversations carried out near one another.

Sound masking matches the frequency of human speech so that conversations more than 15 feet away become challenging or indecipherable.

Once the human ear can no longer pick out certain words, the conversation you are attempting to overhear becomes meaningless and turns to background noise.

What is sound masking for office buildings?

It’s precisely what is sounds like. Sound masking can be adapted to any space, whether a hospitality setting or an office environment. Sound masking equipment is strategically placed around a room for optimal efficacy, using equalizers, speakers, and transmission controllers.

Is sound masking the same as white noise?

Contrary to what you might expect, white noise and sound masking differ despite ambient sound. While white noise adds sound into an environment in the form of humming or hissing noises, sound masking uses a different frequency curve that works to minimize distracting sounds.

Won't sound masking make my office space even louder?

This may be surprising, but no. It may seem that adding more noise into a noisy situation will increase the noise levels, but this is technically not true. Sound masking curves the sounds emitted in the workplace so that they become indecipherable rather than eliminated.

This "masking" of sound makes a space seem quieter and less distracting because it matches the frequency of human speech, allowing it to fade into the background.

Is sound masking installed in the same way in every space?

Sound masking systems are customized for every space. This depends on the space's size, the ceiling's height, and the amount of noise already emitted. Sound masking systems should be installed by trained professionals who tune and position good machines for your space.

Why Trust Logic Integration?

At Logic Integration, we place great emphasis on the quality of audio and visual products. We take pride in our quick response time to service and sales communication. As a rapidly developing technology and integration firm, we keep ourselves up-to-date with the latest products, technologies, and industry trends. As a result, our technical team is the most well-trained in the industry, enabling us to effectively improve our clients' communication and entertainment needs.

Smart Solutions by Logic Integration

At Logic Integration, we offer premium quality brands for all your project needs. Our experienced technicians are well-versed in the correct installation of smart home products, video solutions, home theater options, and more. Visit us in person or give us a call at 303-484-8237 to learn more.