When audiovisual consultants conduct customer site surveys, it remains crucial to factor sound masking and privacy systems into the design. Integrating sound masking technology into meeting spaces or large auditoriums may sound like an afterthought to some, however, the consequences of not doing so are quite significant. Not only does audio carrying over to other areas of a facility disrupt the productivity of others, but it also leads to potential security breaches and privacy violations. Furthermore, costly lawsuits and tarnished reputations could result.
What is Sound Masking?
Sound masking is ambient background sound engineered to match the frequency of human speech for greater speech privacy. To elaborate, sound masking does not cancel audio or eliminate all speech noise in an environment; it simply reduces how far away conversations can be heard and understood by others, which is called the “radius of distraction”.
White Noise vs Sound Masking
Unlike white noise, sound masking is specifically engineered to match the frequencies of human speech and to sound comfortable, even pleasant, to the human ear. When implemented properly, the voice acoustics should just fade into the background “hum” of a workplace while simultaneously making speech more difficult to hear and understand.
Conversely, the frequency of white noise would be extremely irritating if it were amplified to a volume that would be effective for masking human speech — think “loud AM radio static.” It might cover up the sounds of human speech, but not effectively or efficiently since it is not specifically engineered to do so.
Privacy and Compliance
Private conversations are private for a reason. Organizations communicating sensitive or classified information via speech audio must remain aware of potential eavesdropping from internal and external sources. Compliance regulatory standards, such as HIPAA, require healthcare facilities to safeguard patient records and information. Voice masking technologies enable doctors to have secure, private conversations with their patients without the threat of others overhearing or eavesdropping.
How is Sound Masking Deployed?
Not every AV consultant or integrator possesses the capabilities to implement acoustics privacy technology. These systems require installation by certified professionals specially trained in sound masking and acoustics. There are two main approaches to deploying voice masking solutions.
Direct Field Masking
Installation of Direct Field Masking systems in a direct field position equates to the speakers pointing downwards from the ceiling. In addition, sound masking continues to emit directly into the office space. In short, this approach helps create a uniform and evenly distributed sound field.
Indirect Field Masking
Indirect Field Masking systems can also be installed in an indirect position, in which the speakers are hidden above the drop ceiling and the sound masking is pointed upwards and reflected off the ceiling deck and back into the environment.
Enterprise, Healthcare, Government, Sports Venues and other verticals have discovered tremendous benefits in implementing acoustic privacy and sound masking systems. Typically, this technology is not at the forefront of audiovisual discussions and designs. In working with an AV consultant/integrator, make sure they possess the knowledge and capability to design and deploy these systems. For more information regarding Sound Masking and Privacy Systems, please contact us at www.yourstrategic.com/contact-us.
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