Everything You Need to Know About Sound Masking

Everything You Need to Know About Sound Masking
January 07, 2021

Table of Contents:
What Is Sound Masking
How Does Sound Masking Work
Benefits of Sound Masking
Use Sound Masking Systems With Other Soundproofing Methods

Have you ever been disrupted by a neighboring co-worker’s conversation at work? Distractions are common in an open workspace, making it difficult to focus. Luckily, there’s a solution to these noisy disruptions — sound masking systems. Sound masking systems are high-tech soundproofing solutions that are great for interactive work environments. In this post, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about sound masking, including how it can benefit your work environment.

What Is Sound Masking?

Sound masking systems produce sound to reduce the intelligibility of other sounds, specifically speech. The noise they produce sounds similar to white noise, but it works on a much more sophisticated level.

Imagine a person standing in the middle of your office. If they spoke, their voice would likely travel through the entire room. Sound masking systems reduce the radius in which sound travels. So, if a person spoke in a sound masking-treated room, their voice would only travel to their immediate neighbors. Other workers may notice someone talking, but they won’t be distracted by the details of the conversation.

Sound Masking Systems vs. White and Pink Noise

Sound masking is sometimes inaccurately referred to as white or pink noise. White noise produces noise at all frequencies, resulting in a sound similar to TV static. Pink noise generates sound at a constant frequency, creating a flat sound resembling rain or ocean waves.

Sound masking produces sound at a frequency that overlaps human speech. The sound can be compared to a gentle hum, which workers most likely won’t be able to hear — they’ll only notice they’re working with fewer distractions.

Another key distinction between sound masking and white or pink noise is the noise origin. If a white or pink noise generator is placed in an office, workers could pinpoint where the sound is coming from. Sound masking systems produce frequencies throughout the entire room, evenly masking the room with sound.

How Does Sound Masking Work?

Sound masking introduces sound frequencies via speakers. The speakers are strategically placed in a grid pattern, so no sound masking systems are exactly the same. The number of speakers you need depends on the size of your office space.

The speakers are placed above the ceiling. If your office doesn’t have space above your ceiling, the speakers can hang down from the ceiling. Within the ceiling, speakers send frequencies upward, causing the sound waves to bounce off the ceiling deck and into the communal space.

Sound masking doesn’t absorb sound waves like other soundproofing methods. Rather, sound masking masks the sound of human voices, so it’s best suited for communal spaces like offices.

sound masking masks the sound of human voices

The Benefits of Sound Masking in Offices

Today, offices are benefiting from open, innovative workspaces. But these open workspaces tend to generate a lot of noise. There are no office or cubicle walls stopping sound waves, and sounds are free to travel throughout the communal space. Office sound masking can be beneficial because:

1. Maintains Aesthetics

Branding and overall aesthetics are important in a business environment. Company leadership wants to deliver an employee experience that accurately reflects the business. For example, some businesses maintain a modern experience to portray youthfulness and success. Also, many business environments welcome clients into their workspace for meetings and other business practices, and it’s important the business environment makes a good impression.

Some traditional soundproofing methods are extremely effective, but they can look out of place in certain designs. Comparatively, most sound masking systems are hidden above the ceiling and do not affect office aesthetics.

2. Protects Workplace Privacy

If employees can hear a neighboring co-worker’s phone conversation about what they’re having for dinner, your workspace may need a sound masking system. Employees won’t feel comfortable if they know the entire office can hear personal conversations.

Workplace privacy is especially important when having confidential conversations, like probationary warnings or talk of salary raises. Such conversations should stay between the relevant persons. If other employees can hear sensitive information, it can lead to workplace discomfort and cause future problems.

Privacy is also important when speaking with clients. If a client can hear outside conversations during a meeting, it may distract them and reflect negatively on your business. They might also be less likely to discuss sensitive information regarding their own business practices because of the lack of privacy.

3. Maintains a Comfortable Workplace

Offices that are too quiet can be uncomfortable. Workers hear the dull sounds of typing, phones ringing and workplace chatter, all of which are distracting. At certain points of the day, the workplace may be more active, and sounds will travel and compete with one another. Employees may find themselves talking over other conversations or sounds, resulting in a noisy and disruptive workplace.

Sound masking systems fluctuate with the environment. They create a pleasant middle ground where a workspace is neither too quiet nor too loud. An office space with even, consistent noise levels is comfortable for employees. No one has to talk over competing conversations, and employees at their desks can comfortably work without overhearing private conversations.

4. Improves Productivity

A workplace that is comfortable to work in and maintains privacy improves productivity. Co-workers don’t have to tiptoe around the office. And workers at their desks have an easier time concentrating on their work without battling background noise.

Use Sound Masking Systems With Other Soundproofing Methods

Sound masking systems are great at reducing the intelligibility of voices. If you have an open communal space, you may need additional soundproofing help. Soundproof Cow offers soundproofing solutions that can help you maintain office aesthetics and improve productivity.

One helpful soundproofing tool for open offices is our Quiet Batt™ 30 Soundproofing Insulation. Install this soundproofing insulation in your office’s walls and ceilings, and it will absorb excess sound and prevent noisy, disruptive sound travel. As a bonus, our soundproofing insulation doubles as an energy-efficient tool. It will keep your office space cool during the summer and warm during the winter.

Want to Soundproof Your Office? Let Soundproofing Cow Help!

Are you looking for ways to keep an even sound in your workplace? Sound masking really does work to keep workplace chatter undisruptive and manageable. If you’re looking for more ways to keep productivity high, browse our website and large selection of soundproofing tools.

Not sure where to start? Our Quiet Batt™ 30 Soundproofing Insulation is a good place! Or, discuss your soundproofing goals with one of our experienced professionals by filling out our questionnaire or giving us a call at 1-866-949-9269.

let Soundproof Cow help soundproof your office


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What is Sound Isolation

Impact Noise vs Airborne Noise

What is Sound Diffusion

How to Determine the STC Rating of a Wall

Echo vs Reverberation

What is Sound

Colors of Noise

Benefits of White Noise

What are the Characteristics of a Sound Wave

wave designAuthor

About Kellen Beaver

Soundproof Cow Representative Kellen

Kellen has been a member of the sales team for over a decade. Prior to delving into the soundproofing realm, he was a jack of all trades in the service industry, working both front and back of the house jobs to various degrees. This diversity in experience makes it easy to relate to the needs of a large customer base. He understands noisy environments as well as the importance of aesthetics in a space. Adding something that doesn’t fit the look can be intrusive, so knowing that acoustical needs must fit the interior design is something he’s become very well-versed in. Most of this planning comes from working with both the owner/operators as well as their design team and architects. He has been able to adapt his knowledge in the restaurant industry into projects involving schools, office buildings and large medical facilities when the situation calls for it.

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