CMC Communications provides local professional installations services and installs two types of sound masking systems for office noise reduction
Cambridge sound management a direct system
Dynasound an indirect plenum area system
Both white noise office systems can be managed over the network and the direct system can also be used for overhead paging and music.
Call us now for a free quote for parts and labor! We are Cambridge and Dynasound certified.
SERVING TEXAS – AUSTIN, DALLAS, SAN ANTONIO, HOUSTON & SURROUNDING AREAS – **FREE ESTIMATES**
Toll Free: 800-781-8431
San Antonio: 210-202-0747
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Why is Speech Privacy Important?
Better Working Environment
Increased Employee Retention
Noise and Conversational Distractions
Professional researchers who have studied “productivity” in the office environment universally accept that conversational distractions
are the biggest cause of loss of productivity in workplace and, therefore, the most important factor to limit, and control.
Selecting a sound masking system
An office without sound masking may have an ambient sound level of under 40 decibels. Conversational speech levels tend to be near 65 decibels causing conversations to be understood, and distracting to others, from up to 45 feet away. Adding sound masking to increase ambient sound levels to around 47 decibels does not impede local conversation, but limits the radius of distraction to around 15 feet.
Acoustics vary from office to office. One of the first considerations, when designing a sound masking system, is to determine the most advantageous speaker type and placement. The system capabilities must also be determined. For example, the system may be a basic sound masking system or a system with many zones of sound masking, paging and music channels.
In most open office environments, adding sound masking acoustically triples the distance between workers. In other words, workstations would have to be three times larger to get the same degree of privacy as can be achieved by adding sound masking.
How is open office for a speech privacy system workable?
Privacy Index is a rating of speech privacy that ranges from 0 (complete intelligibility) to 100 (complete privacy). It is important to note that the speech privacy rating is not linear. Analogous to academic grades, a Privacy Index of 50 does not represent a “passing” grade for open office. The goal for open office is a PI of 80 or above. The goal for closed offices is a PI of 95 or above. Note that panels, acoustical ceilings and sound masking all contribute to the resulting speech privacy level.
Sound masking what is it exactly?
The sound is typically introduced through speakers installed in or above the ceiling. It is also known as white noise or a speech privacy system.
Sound masking is the process of adding a low level, unobtrusive background sound to an environment to reduce the intelligibility of human speech and reduce noise distractions in that environment.
Originally used only in offices and call centers, sound masking now benefits visitors and employees alike in hospitals, medical and dental clinics, bank branches, military facilities, libraries, hotels, and a whole host of other applications.
Sound masking and acoustic design
All of the ABC’s of acoustic design can be used together or individually to achieve the desired acoustic environment, but absorbing materials (carpet, ceiling tiles, etc.) and blocking structures (walls, cubicle partitions, etc.) are costly and underused, particularly in modern offices. Sound masking, on the other hand, is a low-cost option for creating acoustical environments that both reduce noise distractions and protect private conversations.
Sound masking is a critical component of acoustic design. When designing an optimal acoustic environment, architects consider a variety of elements to address noise control and speech privacy. Elements added Absorb, Block, or Cover sound, and are collectively called the ABC’s of acoustic design.
Ceiling plenum speakers
Network systems have blurred the distinction between centralized and distributed systems. A network system should provide multi-channel networked audio for masking, paging and music signals. Sound masking signals can be broadcast through the network or generated at the speaker controller level. Beware of addressable or networked systems that specify “primary” and “secondary” speakers as the secondary speakers are not individually adjustable. Also beware of the practice of grouping more than one speaker on a channel as the speakers can only be adjusted as a group, defeating the intended purpose of an addressable system.
For offices with suspended acoustical ceilings the best choice is to specify and install upward firing plenum mounted speakers. Speaker are typically installed on 15-16 foot centers and fill the room below with non-directional, ambient sound. One of the traits of a professionally done sound masking system is that one cannot easily discern from where the sound is coming. Plenum mounted speakers produce reflected sound above the ceiling producing an unobtrusive and uniform sound in the room below. In many cases, closed offices can be masked by spillover from the open office speakers.
A popular construction trend for green buildings and those spaces which are designed to make an architectural statement, is to omit the suspended ceiling. This approach works well, acoustically, when there is sufficient height to the structure above. Depending on the height of the structure, speakers may need to be placed slightly closer together in order to assure spatial uniformity. In open structure the best speaker selection is upward firing speakers similar to the type used in the plenum above a suspended ceiling.
Under access floor speakers
Under floor sound masking systems have risen in popularity due to the increased use of access floors. The reverberant under-floor cavity creates an ideal location for sound masking speakers. There are, however, some caveats. Floor penetrations and the perimeter of the floor must be properly sealed to avoid hot spots. Under floor sound masking systems can outperform other systems for spatial uniformity, however they are not suited to all access floor environments and require a consultant or contractor skilled in the design and installation of under-floor sound masking systems.
Downward facing or Direct field speaker systems
In some cases a direct field masking system may be more easily tuned, since there are no plenum variables to consider during the tuning process. The design consideration that is often not considered with direct field speakers is that one must now consider in-room obstructions such as tall panels which can cause acoustical shadowing, especially where there are tall panels and relatively low ceilings.
In most applications, the least desirable choice for sound masking distribution is the “direct field” speaker. These speakers are typically installed in suspended ceilings and aimed downward at the room occupants causing a “spot-light” effect. Regardless of the broad dispersion pattern produced by modern direct field speakers or emitters, in most applications they cannot produce the spatial uniformity of speakers which fill the plenum and the room below with indirect ambient sound filtering through every ceiling tile.
In closed office environments a direct field speaker must be put into every office as there is no “spill-over” effect from the plenum space as is the case with upward firing speakers. In all cases a sound masking system using direct field emitters will require more speakers than an ambient system. The emitters will likely also have to be relocated during office reconfigurations. These systems are also more expensive to relocate as a hole is typically cut into the ceiling tile during installation.
Direct field speakers are the correct choice when there are no other options, such as a room having drywall ceiling with little access above. They can also work well with high ceilings and low panels.
Networked sound masking systems
The most significant industry trend is toward networked, addressable sound masking systems. These systems use network hardware allowing reconfiguration or adjustment of the system via a networked PC or control panel. It is important to verify that the design provides for every speaker to be individually addressed. It is not good practice to connect multiple speakers to a single address.
Centralized sound masking systems
In the classic centralized system there is a central equipment rack housing the system generator, mixers and amplifiers. Speakers are wired into specific zones. Every speaker has a volume control. This approach is still common and can offer more volume adjustment, per speaker, than some flawed network approaches.
Distributed sound masking systems
In a distributed system there is no central generator or amplifier. Each speaker contains its own generator and amplifier, which is an ideal solution for very small systems, with little or no growth planned.
Who needs sound masking and white noise privacy?
Corporations and small businesses
Medical facilities, health care and hospitals
Government and Military
Educational school systems
Banks and Financial institutions
Churches and Counseling
Spasm hospitality and guest rooms
Technology and R&D
HR / Human resources department
Open floor plans
How does sound masking work?
Sound masking works by a) raising the ambient noise level of an environment and b) making speech noise less intelligible and therefore less distracting.
Here’s an example of Sound Masking in everyday life. Have you ever had a conversation with someone while you are washing dishes and they are on the other side of the kitchen? When the water isn’t running, you can hear the other person’s words perfectly. When you turn the water on it becomes much harder to hear them and understand what they are saying. The person isn’t speaking more softly, but they sound as if they are. This is because the noise of the running water is “masking” the sound of the person speaking to you.
Adding sound to a space actually makes the space seem quieter. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’s true. This is because the added sound reduces the intelligibility of human speech. When you can’t understand what someone is saying, their words are less distracting — in fact, you probably don’t even notice them.
Sound masking mimics this phenomenon on a much more sophisticated and effective scale. By adding an ambient sound to an environment that’s specifically engineered to the frequency of human speech you can target conversational distractions and make them less distracting. Sound masking doesn’t eliminate all speech noise in an environment; it simply reduces the area where human speech is intelligible and distracting. We call this area the radius of distraction. Sound masking generally can cut down on the radius of distraction by a factor of 3 or more.
What does sound masking sound like?
If deployed properly sound masking should be barely noticeable and sound similar to the sound of gentle airflow. Generally it should blend into the background of a workplace and contribute to workplace’s general ambiance. Contrary to some misconceptions, sound masking is not “white noise.” White noise’s frequency is actually something that, when amplified, would be extremely unpleasant to listen to (think of a radio station playing nothing but static).
Why Sound Masking?
Lack of speech privacy is the primary driver of worker dissatisfaction in the open office. Sound masking can help make your workplace more acoustically comfortable.
What does sound masking sound like?
The sound masking “sound” has most often been compared to softly “whooshing” air, although it’s actually a specifically engineered blend of frequencies that’s perfect for covering up speech and incidental noises.
Examples are endless: the sound of an airplane engine, rustling leaves, the murmur of a crowd in a busy restaurant. All of these have the potential to mask sounds you would otherwise hear.
You may have experienced something like the sound masking effect when running water at the kitchen sink while trying to talk to someone in the next room. You can tell the other person is speaking, but it’s difficult to comprehend what they’re saying because the running water has raised the background sound level in your area.
Reduce Noise Distractions
Lack of speech privacy is the primary driver of worker dissatisfaction in the open office. Sound masking can help make your workplace more acoustically comfortable.
Increase Focus and Productivity
Employees are interrupted by speech once every 11 minutes* and waste an average of 21.5 minutes a day due to conversational distractions**. Sound masking can help you get those minutes back.
Protect Private Conversations
53% of employees report having overheard confidential company information at the office***. The lack of speech privacy can result in compliance and legal concerns when workers are discussing private customer information such as finance or healthcare records. Sound masking can help companies protect confidential customer, company, and employee information.
What is Speech Privacy?
Simply put, speech privacy is the inability of an unintentional listener to understand another person’s conversation. So, people with a lack of speech privacy are overhearing lots of conversations that they shouldn’t be, which is, understandably, quite annoying to employees.
When we look at acoustical related complaints of office workers, we find that most complaints center around the idea that others can hear our conversations, or that we can hear others’ conversations (a lack of speech privacy). Rarely is the problem that there is simply too much noise in the environment.
So when we define speech privacy, there must be an element of intelligibility. It is not practical to eliminate all conversational sounds in a workplace, but it is certainly not impossible to significantly reduce intelligible speech throughout a workplace.
As an example, many people have no problem working in a coffee shop or other public place, but once they are in an office, the expectation of speech privacy is very different, and indeed the reality of speech privacy is very different as well. In the office, we are able to understand every word that our neighbors are yelling into their speakerphone, but in the coffee shop it didn’t seem to matter.
Did you know?
Lack of speech privacy is the number one complaint among office workers. As illustrated by the graphic below, The Center for the Build Environment in San Francisco surveyed more than 25,000 workers in more than 2,000 buildings to determine what the key environmental issues were for workers. Their results mirrored those determined over the last 20 years in similar surveys – specifically that of the architect designed features surveyed, acoustics (i.e. the lack of of speech privacy) was considered to be the most objectionable.
Learn about sound masking and how it helps protect speech privacy.
Sound masking was created in the 1970s to address the lack of speech privacy in open office workstations. Upward firing speakers, above the ceiling, were used over typical downward firing paging speakers in order to create spatial uniformity and to create sound masking systems that were effective and unobtrusive. Downward firing speakers, or emitters, have improved over the years, but as the laws of physics have remained constant, directional speakers, aimed at the occupants, are by their very definition less uniform. One can prove this by experiencing both types of systems. With a plenum based system occupants cannot locate the position of sound masking speakers visually or acoustically, because the sound is coming through all the ceiling tiles. With exposed downward firing speakers, occupants can easily identify speaker locations both visually and acoustically.
Verify when selecting a networked sound masking system that every speaker is individually addressable.
For many applications, the classic centralized system is still a valid choice, however network systems will continue to be the state of the art in sound masking. As all other building systems become network based and controlled by facility managers, users will expect the same level of control over speech privacy and paging systems.
For more information on sound masking please visit Wikipedia for more information.
Austin and surrounding areas – CMC Communications provides Speech privacy systems, white noise generators, office sound masking installs and acoustical solutions installation services and installers in the following areas in Texas for Austin, Bartlett, Bastrop, Belmont, Bertram, Blanco, Bluffton, Briggs, Buchanan Dam, Buckholts, Buda, Bulverde, Burnet, Cameron, Canyon Lake, Cedar Creek, Cedar Park, Cibolo, Coupland, Dale, Davilla, Del Valle, Dime Box, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Fentress, Fischer, Flatonia, Florence, Georgetown, Geronimo, Giddings, Gonzales, Granger, Harwood, Holland, Hutto, Hye, Jarrell, Johnson City, Kendalia, Kingsbury, Kingsland, Kyle, Leander, Lexington, Liberty Hill, Lincoln, Lockhart, Luling, Manchaca, Manor, Marble Falls, Marion, Martindale, Maxwell, Mc Dade, Mc Neil, Mc Queeney, Moulton, Muldoon, New Braunfels, Ottine, Paige, Pflugerville, Plum, Prairie Lea, Red Rock, Rockdale, Rogers, Rosanky, Round Mountain, Round Rock, San Antonio, San Marcos, Schertz, Schwertner, Seguin, Smithville, Spicewood, Spring Branch, Staples, Taylor, Thorndale, Thrall, Tow, Universal City, Waelder, Walburg, Weir, West Point, Wimberley.
Dallas and surrounding areas – CMC Communications provides Speech privacy systems, white noise generators, office sound masking installs and acoustical solutions installation services and installers in the following areas in Texas for Addison, Aledo, Allen, Alvarado, Anna, Argyle, Arlington, Aubrey, Avalon, Azle, Bailey, Bardwell, Barry, Bedford, Blooming Grove, Blue Ridge, Blum, Boyd, Burleson, Caddo Mills, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Celeste, Celina, Chatfield, Cleburne, Colleyville, Copeville, Coppell, Corsicana, Covington, Crandall, Crowley, Dallas, Decatur, Denton, Desoto, Duncanville, Elmo, Ennis, Era, Euless, Eustace, Farmersville, Fate, Ferris, Flower Mound, Forney, Forreston, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Godley, Grand Prairie, Grandview, Grapevine, Greenville, Greenwood, Gunter, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Hutchins, Irving, Italy, Itasca, Josephine, Joshua, Justin, Kaufman, Keene, Keller, Kemp, Kennedale, Kerens, Kopperl, Krum, Ladonia, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, Lavon, Leonard, Lewisville, Lillian, Little Elm, Mabank, Malakoff, Mansfield, Maypearl, McKinney, Melissa, Merit, Mesquite, Midlothian, Milford, Naval Air Station / JRB, Nemo, Nevada, Newark, North Richland Hills.
Houston and surrounding areas – CMC Communications provides Speech privacy systems, white noise generators, office sound masking installs and acoustical solutions installation services and installers in the following areas in Texas for Alief, Alvin, Anahuac, Angleton, Bacliff, Barker, Batson, Baytown, Beasley, Bellaire, Boling, Brazoria, Brookshire, Channelview, Cleveland, Clute, Conroe, Crosby, Cypress, Daisetta, Damon, Danbury, Danciger, Dayton, Deer Park, Devers, Dickinson, Dobbin, Fresno, Friendswood, Fulshear, Galena Park, Galveston, Gilchrist, Guy, Hankamer, Hardin, High Island, Highlands, Hitchcock, Hockley, Houston, Huffman, Hufsmith, Hull, Humble, Katy, Kemah, Kendleton, La Marque, La Porte, Lake Jackson, Lane City, League City, Liberty, Liverpool, Magnolia, Manvel, Missouri City, Mont Belvieu, Montgomery, Needville, New Caney, North Houston, Old Ocean, Orchard, Pasadena, Pattison, Pearland, Pinehurst, Plantersville, Pledger, Port Bolivar, Porter, Prairie View, Raywood, Richmond, Rosenberg, Rosharon, Santa Fe, Saratoga, Seabrook, Simonton, South Houston, Splendora, Spring, Stafford, Sugar Land, Sweeny, Texas City, Thicket, Thompsons, Tomball, Van Vleck, Votaw, Waller, Wallis, Wallisville, Webster, West Columbia.
San Antonio areas – CMC Communications provides Speech privacy systems, white noise generators, office sound masking installs and acoustical solutions installation services and installers in the following areas in Texas for Adkins, Atascosa, Austin, Bandera, Bergheim, Bigfoot, Blanco, Boerne, Buda, Bulverde, Campbellton, Canyon Lake, Castroville, Center Point, Charlotte, Christine, Cibolo, Comfort, Converse, Devine, D’Hanis, Driftwood, Ecleto, Elmendorf, Falls City, Fentress, Fischer, Floresville, Geronimo, Gillett, Helotes, Hobson, Hondo, Hunt, Ingram, Jourdanton, Karnes City, Kendalia, Kenedy, Kerrville, Kingsbury, Kyle, La Coste, La Vernia, Leesville, Leming, Lytle, Macdona, Manchaca, Marion, Martindale, Maxwell, Mc Queeney, Medina, Mico, Moore, Natalia, New Braunfels, Nixon, Pandora, Panna Maria, Pearsall, Pipe Creek, Pleasanton, Poteet, Poth, Prairie Lea, Rio Medina, Saint Hedwig, San Antonio, San Marcos, Schertz, Seguin, Somerset, Spring Branch, Staples, Stockdale, Sutherland Springs, Tarpley, Universal City, Von Ormy, Waring, Wimberley, Yancey, – and surrounding areas.
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