Sound masking technology works best when the acoustics in an office is ideal. Before installing a sound masking system, you should assess the acoustics of your space to make sure the sound masking technology works in conjunction with the physical configuration you have in place.
Certain acoustics principles can reduce speech privacy in your office, which is where sound masking can help if you don’t have the budget to enhance the physical environment.
Take a look at four tips for proper acoustical control with sound masking technology.
1. Ceiling Reflections
Open office designs thrive on having a relaxed, airy feeling between workstations compared to traditional cubicles. To reduce noise transmission, consider having non-reflective ceiling tiles and light fixtures to help with sound masking.
For example, parabolic recessed light fixtures dramatically reduce ceiling reflections compared to standard, flat-panel fixtures. Absorbent ceiling tiles also reduce distracting noises.
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2. Line-of-Sight Sound Transmission
Perhaps the most prominent way sound transmits through an open office comes from the line-of-sight transmission. While open offices are great where speech privacy isn’t needed, you should never have a line-of-sight path between two employees where you want to achieve speech privacy.
The solution is to have physical barriers between workers where they cannot see each other. Barriers should comprise absorbent materials such as cloth or foam to interrupt the sound in the room, and so sound masking technology can work properly. Shelves or files also offer good sound interruption.
You’ll need quality, sturdy partition walls when workstations are adjacent to each other, and you don’t have a lot of space. Partition walls should be at least 66 inches tall (5’6”) and have quality materials to block sound.
When shopping for suitable partitions, look for items with a noise reduction coefficient (NRC) rating of as close to 1 if you want to absorb the most sound.
4. Wall, Floor, and Window Reflections
Look for sound-reflecting problems from the walls, floors, and/or windows. Hard, reflective windows, glossy walls, and reflective floor materials all make sound masking more difficult.
Consider sound-absorbing artwork to hang on the walls, curtains, drapes, or blinds for windows, and then rugs or commercial-grade carpeting for the floors. All of these items can improve sound masking for your facility when speech privacy is a concern.
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