Sound masking is an evergrowing field in the world of architectural acoustics. Often lumped in with white noise, sound masking is a unique and effective way to reduce distractions in offices and other commercial environments. Unlike white noise, sound masking is the introduction of unobtrusive, broadband sounds, which are shaped to the human hearing spectrum. Sound masking effectively drowns out the most disruptive noises that affect focus, productivity, happiness and well-being of the users of architectural space.
Sound masking is most commonly used in open plan offices. The advent of open, collaborative work-spaces has inadvertently led to an explosion of distractive noises that have invaded the spaces where we most need to concentrate and be productive. Estimates for the concentration crisis suggest we can be up to 66% less productive due to the popularity of open-plan office design. Fortunately, we don’t have to put back up the partitions; sound masking provides an effective acoustic solution to restore speech privacy and aid worker productivity. By ‘masking’ the most distracting noises, such as speech, sound masking can reduce the radius of distraction the average worker is exposed to.
Additionally, sound masking may have therapeutic benefits for tinnitus sufferers and may help to improve sleep quality, particularly for in-patients in hospitals.
The implementation of sound masking must include a number of considerations, including: zoning and room types, the type of speakers used, effective and accurate distribution of speakers to avoid ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots, correct implementation depending on ceiling type, among many more.
If you are planning on your own sound masking projects then it is advised to use a professional to avoid incorrect configuration and ineffective sound masking environments.