What is sound masking?
Sound masking systems are used in office environments to increase speech privacy and reduce audible distractions. These systems are designed to produce low-level background noise with a particular spectrum that is not disturbing or irritating to workers. This sound mask is, nevertheless, loud enough to effectively blur conversations and reduce distracting noises.
Benefits of Sound Masking
A properly installed sound masking system can increase speech privacy between workers and reduce audible distractions. In doing so, it provides a better working environment with increased productivity.
Optimal Sound Masking
Sound masking consists of generating a neutral sound in order to make conversations less audible. For maximum efficiency, the sound masking spectrum must have enough energy in the frequencies corresponding to human voice. However, the sound masking has to be barely perceptible so that workers in office environments can go about their daily activities. Recent studies have allowed virtually perfect sound masking levels and spectrums to be determined.
The picture below, taken from the article Acoustical Design of Conventional Open Plan Offices in Canadian Acoustics, vol. 27, no. 3, 2003, presents the ideal sound masking scenario, i.e. a masking spectrum that allows more confidentiality while being less detectable.
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