Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on acoustics

1. Costs Versus Benefits of Soundmasking Systems


Soundmasking systems are designed to produce a constant, non-intrusive background sound evenly throughout a space. The idea of soundmasking is create a reasonable level of acoustical privacy to help conceal distracting noises, including nearby conversations. They are especially helpful in open-plan office settings and areas where confidentiality is important.

Installing a soundmasking system will increase the price of the ceiling in a space (where soundmasking is normally factored), but can lead to increased occupant productivity and satisfaction. An employee who is often distracted by conversations, equipment and other noises will constantly need to refocus on their task, hindering their production.


2.  Know Where to Put Soundmasking

Soundmasking is not a catch-all solution in spaces where acoustics are a problem. Soundmasking is designed to work in open plan office spaces, where the controlled and calculated sound benefits the type of work being performed. Workers in open office spaces need privacy for conversations and an acoustical buffer to help block out unwanted sound.

Some facility executives might think that installing soundmasking in someplace like a conference room would be beneficial in order to block sound coming from adjacent spaces. I would do that. However, the collaborative work that goes on in space like a conference room would be hindered by background noise like soundmasking. Occupants at opposite ends of the room may not be able to hear each other clearly, and speech may be garbled. In this case, the negatives of soundmasking would outweigh the benefits.

3.  Costs Versus Benefits of Soundmasking Systems

Soundmasking systems are designed to produce a constant, non-intrusive background sound evenly throughout a space. The idea of soundmasking is create a reasonable level of acoustical privacy to help conceal distracting noises, including nearby conversations. They are especially helpful in open-plan office settings and areas where confidentiality is important.

Installing a soundmasking system will increase the price of the ceiling in a space (where soundmasking is normally factored), but can lead to increased occupant productivity and satisfaction. An employee who is often distracted by conversations, equipment and other noises will constantly need to refocus on their task, hindering their production.

4.  Speech Privacy Levels are an Important Consideration in Office Spaces

When designing a new open plan office space, consider the level of speech privacy required by occupants before making purchasing decisions. There are three degrees of speech privacy: Minimal, where conversation in neighboring workstations is easily intelligible; Normal, where conversation in neighboring workstations is intelligible with concentration; and confidential, where conversation in neighboring workstations is unintelligible.

The level of privacy required will dictate the acoustic properties of workstation furniture and ceiling panels needed to achieve speech privacy goals.


RELATED CONTENT:


acoustics , speech privacy , soundmasking

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