Sound Masking

Understanding Sound Masking and How it Differs from White Noise

When you add sound to a space, it will make that space seem quieter. While it may sound counterintuitive, it’s true. That’s because the sound that’s been added helps to reduce the intelligibility of people talking. If you aren’t able to understand what someone is saying, then the words aren’t as distracting – in fact, there’s a good chance you won’t even notice them. 

Put simply, sound masking (when done properly), helps to make a building seem like it is quieter. Sound masking is actually an ambient sound, just like the sound of airflow. It’s engineered specifically to the frequency of human speech, so you are able to target conversational distractions and help make them less distracting. 

Keep in mind, sound masking won’t cancel out sound or eliminate all the speech noise. It will just reduce how far away a conversation is able to be heard and actually understood by others (which referred to as the radius of distraction). 

White Noise vs. Sound Masking 

Many people refer to sound masking as white noise. However, the sound curves of these vary quite a bit. Unlike typical white noise, sound masking has been specifically engineered to match the frequency of human speech and to sound somewhat pleasant to people who hear it. When sound masking is implemented properly, it will fade into the background, similar to the “hum” of an office, all while making speech much more difficult to understand and hear. 

If you tried to use the frequency of white noise to do this, it would be extremely irritating. That’s because it would have to be amplified to a volume that would be effective for masking human speech. An example of this would be a very loud AM radio static. While it would cover the sounds of people talking, it would not do so in a non-distracting manner, which is the goal of sound masking. 

What Businesses Can Benefit from Sound Masking?

The fact is sound masking can be beneficial in virtually any business or commercial setting. It can help to reduce distractions for workers and make the overall environment more comfortable. 

However, there are some commercial spaces that find this technology more beneficial than others, such as those that involve people discussing sensitive or personal information. Some examples of these types of businesses include insurance offices, law offices, call centers, financial institutions, and hospitals. 

A Basic Overview of the Sound Masking System 

Most sound masking systems will consist of a masking noise generator, one or more power amplifiers, special loudspeakers installed over a drop ceiling, and an equalizer. It’s important to note that for these systems to work effectively, the room acoustics have to be considered. 

If you believe that a masking system would be beneficial for your business or commercial space, it’s best to work with the professionals. This is going to help ensure you can get a quality system installed that best meets the needs of your office or work environment.