Technique & Science

On this page you will find some more in depth information about the working of Soundmasking. Also what has been said in the science department will be discussed.

The Technique of Soundmasking

Sound masking consists of generating a neutral sound in order to make conversations less audible. For maximum efficiency, the sound masking spectrum must have enough energy in the frequencies corresponding to human voice. However, the sound masking has to be barely perceptible so that workers in office environments can go about their daily activities. Recent studies have allowed virtually perfect sound masking levels and spectrums to be determined.

The picture below, taken from the article Acoustical Design of Conventional Open Plan Offices in Canadian Acoustics, vol. 27, no. 3, 2003, presents the ideal sound masking scenario, i.e. a masking spectrum that allows more confidentiality while being less detectable.

 
optimummasking

 

What science says about Soundmasking

Over the past decedes some research has been done on the effects of soundmasking. Here are the main outcomes.

Research by Loewen and Suedfeld

Researchers Loewen and Suedfeld have done an experiment in 1992 on the effect of office noise on the performance of employees. They created three groups, one with silence, one with office noise and one with masked office noise. Every group got a simple task and a difficult task. The result were as followed.
– The simple task was best performed with masked office noise
– The complex task was best performed in silence, second best in masked and third in office noise.
We argue that the silence would not be first when it would not be a experiment because here all candidated are focussed on the same task while in actual sillence areas the silence will be found disturbing due to a lack of background noise. (every sound will be emphasised)
This means that masking office noise leads to better performances.

 

Research by Hongisto

This graph is from a research of Hongisto (2008) in Finland. The graph shows that the distance speech travels is decreased from 13 meter to 6 meter due to soundmasking.

 

Research by Veitch et al.

Veitch et al. (2004) have found that satisfaction with privacy and acoustics leads to overall environmental satisfaction with leads to job satisfaction and in the end to a better business unit performance.