Acoustically Sound Conference Rooms: Part 3

As we have learned so far, we know that installing some sound blocking panels and hanging some sound absorbent material can make a black and white difference with your conference calls. Another option can not only affect your conference room, but also your entire office if you’re willing to set up a floor-wide system.  It’s called Sound Cover-up.

C = Cover-up (via sound masking)

To cover up sound, also called sound masking, is the practice of adding a natural or artificial sound into your room to cover up unwanted sound. Believe it or not, adding sound actually eliminates distractions. Think of it this way: conversations between two people in a quiet room are more noticeable than in a room with background sound and other conversation. By introducing a soft and ambient noise, it’s possible to contour the human speech. Sound masking does not fully eliminate these noises, though. The idea is to exclude noise by adding noise, therefore masking (or hiding) the unwanted office noise that exists. For example: cabinets opening and closing, papers being rustled, printed, and crumpled, squeaky chairs, desks, doors, and loud foot stomps in and outside of the room. I’m sure you’re aware of these noises.

Sound masking systems are audio systems that create spatially consistent sound levels such as a white or pink noise. Some masking systems will have a variety of mixtures of these two noises in order to get the best results, properly masking those annoying sounds. This noise makes it so that anyone can talk to another at a normal level and be clearly understood by their conversation partner, but not have the speech distract someone, say, in a neighboring work station. This method is perfect for open-plan offices.

These systems can also be used to incorporate music and/or a paging system within them. Sound masking systems usually come in the form of small speaker boxes that can be placed in numerous locations including open offices, within the ceiling, underneath the floor, even air ducts and underneath desks. Sound making systems obviously produce a sound — but that sound should be barely perceptible.  It should be non-directional and harmoniously uniform throughout a given space.

If you’re ready to find something to make up for your conference room’s acoustical weaknesses, there are plenty of sound masking systems out there for you to compare and contrast. Having a sound masking set up really will increase privacy between workers, eliminate office annoyances and other such distraction, and definitely improve you and your employee’s work flow.

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