What Is Sound Masking?

Sound masking lowers noise levels by actually adding a slight amount of sound at precise decibels to protect the speech privacy of people in offices while increasing office comfort and reducing noise distractions.

A sound masking system has several vital components that make it work properly as a high-tech solution when privacy is important to your company.

Is sound masking different from white noise?

Yes, because sound masking uses specific technological components that achieve a precise match for the same decibels of human speech that cancels out someone’s ability to hear conversations coming from other rooms.

White noise can be irritating to someone and cause discomfort because the decibels are not precisely tuned.

What are the components of a sound masking system?

This high-tech system utilizes a series of speakers in the ceiling.


A grid of multiple speakers delivers noise-canceling sounds at the correct radius throughout a room. Depending on the size of the room, there may be multiple speakers placed evenly across the space, in a grid-like pattern, where people will congregate.

One thing to note is that sound masking technology generally goes in rooms where people can hear conversations coming from other rooms, not in the actual rooms where conversations will take place.

Speakers can be round or square, and they are usually white to blend in with the ceiling tiles overhead.


Each room will have a channel controller to feed all of the speakers. Controllers can go in the plenum space above the ceiling panels or in a server room cabinet. Sound masking system designers can connect multiple controllers together for flexibility and scalability. Controllers can be connected through a hard line or a wireless connection.

Volume Control Sensors 

The volume and decibel levels of rooms rise and fall with the number of people in the room. As such, the sound masking must compensate. Sensors automatically adjust the sound, and your staff can manually adjust the controls as needed.

Sensors usually go in the ceiling, and they collect sound almost like tiny ear canals that sit in the ceiling or stick out from the ceiling less than an inch. They are also white to match the ceiling.

Sound Masking Software

Every sound masking system needs software to manage the controllers, sensors, and speakers. You should have complete control over your system, and our staff will show you how it works. The best software works on mobile apps as well as laptops and desktops. The software should also let you give access only to necessary staff through administrative credentials and logins.

Sound Masking Technology Installation From American Sound & Electronics

Does your office need sound masking technology to ensure client, customer or patient privacy? Do you want to reduce distractions from conversations at your busy office?

Contact American Sound & Electronics for more information, or call (859) 261-9024 in Cincinnati or (502) 694-3339 in Louisville. 

We’ll discuss your needs and options with you for a sound masking system.

Sound Masking FAQs

Sound Masking Terminology You Need to Know

American Sound & Electronics prides itself on installing world-class, professional sound and video equipment. One aspect of our business is high-quality sound masking technology. Whether protecting confidentiality is a matter of preference or mandated by law, sound masking is an excellent good solution. Today’s blog from American Sound & Electronics explains sound masking terminology you need to know.

ABCs of Acoustics

The ABCs of acoustics stand for:

  • A Absorb Sound
  • B Block Sound
  • C Cover Sound

A combined approach to absorb, block, and cover sound is the best way to ensure speech privacy in your building. Sound masking technology provides Cover Sound by generating white noise with overlapping acoustic signals that make speech in another room unintelligible. The noise from Cover Sound is similar to air circulating in a room.

Articulation Index

The articulation index represents a quantitative measurement of the intelligibility of speech in a given location. A value of 1 means all speech can be understood, while a value of 0 means no speech can be understood. Acceptable speech privacy is when the articulation index is 0.2 or lower for sound masking. American Sound & Electronics will strive to hit this mark with every install.

Privacy Index

Privacy index is the inverse measure of the articulation index. Sound masking technology must achieve a privacy index of 80% or greater, either by itself or in combination with sound blocking or absorbing.


Appropriate sound masking technology needs multiple channels, or unique output signals, to achieve a privacy index of 80% or greater. For example, one channel may cover sounds with a higher pitch while another covers sounds with a mid-range pitch. Our technicians will adjust the channels on sound masking technology to achieve optimum results. Once we achieve the right results based on your building’s acoustics, the technology will be barely noticeable to ordinary people.


Directional describes the distribution pattern of sound coming from a speaker or sound source. Highly directional speakers project sound across greater distances, and they work well to cover speech coming from another room. Speakers may also use the ceiling to disperse sound to cover speech in the same room. Speakers with wide dispersal patterns radiate sound directly into a room. American Sound & Electronics will determine the best system for your building based on the materials, shape, and size of each room where you need sound masking.

Decibel Tolerance

Decibel tolerance measures the uniformity of the sound emitted by sound masking systems. The smaller the tolerance level, the better the uniformity of the system. The best sound masking systems, like the ones we install, have a decibel (dB) tolerance of less than 1 decibel. In essence, this level of tolerance means you can’t tell there are different channels emitting various frequencies and decibels of sound that cover the sounds of speech coming from other rooms or across the same room.

Sound Masking by American Sound & Electronics

Sound masking helps to ensure the privacy of patients and clients in the healthcare, legal, and financial industries. It also reduces distractions and provides privacy in boardrooms and conference rooms. Contact American Sound & Electronics or call (859) 261-9024 for more details on our world-class sound masking technology.

How Sound Masking Technology Works

Sound masking uses modern acoustic technology to make a quieter space for everyone. This technology comes in handy for protecting speech privacy, improving workplace acoustics, and reducing noise distractions. In today’s blog from American Sound & Electronics, we explain how sound masking technology works.

Related Post: Sound Masking Terminology You Need to Know

We Add Sound

It seems counterintuitive, but sound masking works by adding ambient sounds to the existing environment. The added sound disrupts the way soundwaves travel and reduces the intelligibility of human speech. Less speech in the immediate environment makes the space quieter and less distracting. It also creates better privacy for clients, customers, and employees. The sound you hear is similar to air flowing and moving about the room. But this noise is special: It’s precisely tuned to disrupt human speech.

Precise Wavelengths

Sound masking technology works at specific wavelengths of sound. Not only do we have to take into account the volume of human speech, but also the acoustics of the building. As we install sound masking technology, our technicians measure the masking sounds at ear height in the room. Then we adjust the volume and equalizer accordingly.  

Properly Placed Speakers

The beauty of sound masking technology is that no one should ever notice it’s there. Speakers are unobtrusive, usually blending in with the existing ceiling or fixtures of the room. The speakers are small. They’re designed to overlap throughout the room at precise radii. A dedicated computer program manages all of the speakers at once.

Computer Controlled

Variations in noise levels can impact sound masking technology. That’s why a special computer program monitors everything while the system is turned on. Speakers should have a tolerance range by which they are allowed to deviate from the target sound frequency. Some speakers may change the frequency of sound output by a very little bit to compensate for more or less noise in the room. Testing for the optimal sound disruption level may take a few hours, but this process creates the best results.

Related Post: Who Benefits From Sound Masking?

Sound Masking Installation by American Sound & Electronics

Sound masking technology not only improves the privacy of your building, but it also makes ambient conversations far less distracting (and therefore improves productivity). We can install sound masking technology in new and existing structures. Contact American Sound & Electronics or call (859) 261-9024 for more details on what we can do for you.

Who Benefits From Sound Masking?