Sound Masking: Technology Builders & Architects Should Embrace
Can You Muffle Noise by Creating More Noise?
Open-concept floor plans have definitely hit it big in recent years. Homes and businesses are saying no to walls and yes to open-concept. If you’re a builder or architect in the Manhattan, NY area, you’ve likely already adjusted your building plans to accommodate this trend, but have you put plenty of thought into the result?
The result of open-concept layouts is, simply put, noise. Without walls to muffle sound, the noise from electronics, footsteps and most importantly, speech, are all amplified within the space.
So what can builders and architects do to deliver home and office building designs that your customers will love for years to come? Incorporate acoustics into construction (in this case, sound masking in particular).
The Lowdown on Acoustic Treatments
When I say acoustics, I really mean three different things:
Sound isolation is great for areas like private home theaters, but in environments where walls are few and far between, it’s impossible to fully isolate the noise.
Likewise, acoustic paneling is useful for improving sound clarity and speech intelligibility within rooms like theaters or boardrooms, but not always the right fit when you’re trying to muffle all the noise within an open-concept environment.
That’s where sound masking comes in.
Any time you’re constructing a work space with an open floor plan, you should recommend this technology.
How Sound Masking Works
Here’s how it works…
Instead of trying to eliminate the noise in the space, this technology “masks” unwanted or distracting noise using an unobtrusive background sound. This sound, sometimes referred to as “white noise” or “pink noise”, is almost unnoticeable but covers up speech and other distractions to improve overall privacy and productivity in the workplace.
Unlike a white noise machine you might use to fall asleep at night, the audio signals produced by a professional sound masking system are specifically engineered to mask the frequency of human speech. They can be tuned, adjusted and controlled to meet the requirements of the space and the clients needs.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, adding noise to the space actually helps decrease the distractions caused by people talking. Additionally, sound masking improves productivity, privacy and comfort in the office space.
Installing sound masking correctly is not an easy DIY project. To achieve optimal sound masking we first take a series of measurements in the space to determine which system and what type of speakers to use. We then create a sound masking blueprint which shows the optimal speaker arrangement and placement in or above the ceiling. After installing a series of speakers throughout the space, we take sound readings and tune/adjust the system accordingly.
What It Means for Construction Firms
While masking systems can be added to any existing office space, the best time to install the speakers is during construction.
For builders and architects, this is an opportunity.
Sound masking is a perfect example of how your company goes beyond just the building plans to consider the end result for your clients. You can accurately position your construction firm as having your clients’ best interests at heart – a key differentiator in the competitive construction industry.
The good news is that incorporating acoustic treatments into your construction plans doesn’t have to be a heavy lift. The better approach is to partner with a sound masking professional who can handle the design, speaker layout/placement, installation and fine tuning of the system for you.
My team here at Total Home (don’t let the name fool you – we do commercial projects too) frequently collaborates with construction firms throughout New York and New Jersey on all types of sound treatment projects – if you’d like to learn more about sound masking and our approach, call us!
You can also chat live with one of our staff by clicking the window at the bottom of the screen.