The Sounds of the Changing Work Environment
With advances in technology and communication tools, modern work spaces function much differently than the
paper-driven offices of the past. They also look quite different. Many companies have moved from mostly closed
office arrangements to open floor plans in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and promote a more
collaborative work environment. While this trend quickly became popular, it wasn’t long before we discovered
the challenges of an open office plan. Among the biggest complaints from employees? Sound.
Most offices face one or more of these sound problems:
- The office space is too loud and disruptive, because sound travels freely throughout the space without
barriers to stop it.
- The office is too quiet because there is no background noise; people can hear every word, laugh, or sneeze
from their co-workers.
- Private conversations (HR, legal, HIPPA confidential) need better protection.
At Building Systems Solutions, we are passionate about improving other people’s spaces. Our owner, Megan
Nord, addresses how a sound masking system can be used to treat these issues in an article for the Minnesota Real
Estate Journal. Read the Article.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sound Masking Systems
Sound masking is a technology that involves adding ambient background sound to
an office or space to reduce or mask noise distractions, protect private conversations, and create a
more comfortable environment. Sound masking does not “cancel out” other sounds. It is an
inconspicuous sound that is engineered to match the frequencies of human speech.
Our large and growing customer base is made up of clients in a diverse range
of industries. Industries and offices that can benefit from sound masking include:
- Financial Services
- Health Care
- Call Centers
- Architects and Designers
- General Contractors
- Professional Services
To receive more information on our speech privacy testing services or to book a testing, please
give us a call at 763-502-1515
, or fill out
our contact form here
Yes! While it sounds counterintuitive, adding background sound to a space
actually makes the room seem quieter. The added ambient sound makes human speech hard or even impossible
to understand, so you can’t hear conversations from 15 or 20 feet away. When you can’t make
out what people are saying, their words become less distracting. In fact, most people won’t even
notice outside conversations when a sound masking system is present.
Although sound masking is often referred to as “white noise,” the
sounds are quite different, scientifically speaking. Sound masking systems are engineered to produce
sound that matches the frequencies of human speech. When done properly, sound masking is basically
unnoticeable; it fades into the background sounds of the space.
White noise combines sounds of
all different frequencies together. If you took all of the possible tones that the human ear can hear
and combined them, you’d get white noise.
Because sound masking matches the frequencies of
human speech only, most people find it to be more comfortable and effective than white noise for
The colors attributed to noise refer to the different frequencies audible to
the human ear that make up that noise. Just like white light is made up of all the colors of the rainbow
we can see, white noise is made up of all the tones that the human ear can hear. A good example of white
noise is the static you hear on a fuzzy television channel.
Pink noise is white noise, but it
doesn’t have equal power across all frequencies audible to the human ear. Instead, pink noise has
reduced higher frequencies. Think of the sound of rainfall or wind. For most people, it’s a bit
more soothing than white noise.
There are other colors of sound, including blue, gray, and brown,
and they all affect listeners in different ways. The sound emitted from our sound masking systems is not
strictly white noise or pink noise – it is a spectrum of sound that matches the frequencies of
human speech, and it is presented at an unobtrusive volume to mask distracting speech sounds and to
protect speech privacy.
Sound masking does not have any adverse health effects. OSHA, FGI, and ASTM
are among several organizations that recognize sound masking as a safe technology for reducing speech
intelligibility and noise-related distractions.
When you work with Building Systems Solutions to
add a sound masking system to your facility, we can actually make your workplace safer by incorporating
an emergency warning and paging system into the installation. In the event of an emergency, the
emergency warning and paging system utilizes the same speakers used for sound masking to transmit
We believe the Soft dB Sound Masking System is the best sound masking
technology on the market due to its adaptive capabilities. By monitoring the sound levels within a
space, the system is able to achieve an optimum sound spectrum that strikes a balance between acoustics
that are pleasing to the ear and effective at sound masking.
Want to learn more about office sound masking systems or schedule a demonstration? Give us a call at 763-502-1515, or fill out the contact form here.