Questions & Answers

Can I use sound masking if I’ve already moved into my facility?

The LogiSon sound masking system is easy to retrofit. If needed, arrangements can be made to install the system outside regular working hours. There’s also an introductory ramp-up feature for retrofit installations, which progressively increases the masking volume over a period of up to 15 days.

However, early consideration of a sound masking system in your construction plans has benefit. It can reduce costs by eliminating the need for extra insulation, layers of drywall or plenum barriers, and high-spec or permanent walls around private offices. Sound masking is very effective when used in combination with floor-to-ceiling wall systems and is comparable to increasing their Sound Transmission Class (STC).

Fewer slab-to-slab walls mean reduced HVAC zone requirements and a less interrupted ceiling grid. In this way, masking also maintains the flexibility of your space for future renovations.

Sound masking can also reduce the need to purchase other acoustical treatments. The nature of these reductions varies and should be discussed with your LogiSon Representative.

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Will I hear the sound masking?

You must be able to hear the sound masking for it to be effective. But it's designed to be as unnoticeable as possible. It doesn't contain distracting patterns, and it's tuned so you don't hear volume changes as you move throughout your facility. Employees come to consider it a natural part of their environment in a short period of time.

The LogiSon sound masking system offers the highest sound masking uniformity in the industry. It provides zone sizes of 1 to 3 speakers, or 225 to 675 square feet. Such small zone sizes mean the masking sound can be specifically designed for your space.

There are two additional elements for enhancing acoustic comfort:

The Ramp-Up Feature is ideal for installing the LogiSon sound masking system in an already-occupied facility. It automatically increases the sound masking system's volume over the course of 15 days, helping workplace occupants acclimatize.

The Timer Feature schedules the sound masking volume to match expected activity levels throughout the day. It ensures the sound masking is loud enough to be effective during busy times, and low enough to be comfortable at quieter times.

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Will I be able to hear my immediate neighbour?

As noise travels, its volume decreases to a level that’s covered up by the masking sound, so it follows that this technology requires some distance to work.

The background sound level in offices is often so low that voices carry over a distance of 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 meters), or more. Sound masking dramatically reduces that distance. The exact distance is affected by office layout and any other resident acoustic treatments, but 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters), or approximately two workstations, is a good expectation. It can be less.

Over shorter distances, sound masking may not prevent you hearing that someone is speaking, but it will prevent you from understanding what is being said. This is a key benefit, because understandable speech is the least private and causes the most distraction.

You'll notice a distinct impact from private office to private office.

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Why don’t you have a sample of the masking sound on your website?

We haven't provided an audio file on our website because we can't ensure the quality of the playback. Most computer speakers would poorly reproduce the masking sound. If you would like to hear the LogiSon sound masking system in operation, the best option is to ask us to take you on a tour of an existing installation.

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Why is zone size important?

Any sound masking system will introduce a sound into your facility, but the level of speech privacy, noise control and comfort you’ll achieve depends on the size of its adjustment zones and the degree of control offered within each one.

The LogiSon sound masking system provides the smallest zones (1 to 3 loudspeakers) with the finest adjustments: 100 volume steps in 0.5 dBA increments and 1/3-octave frequency control. The masking sound can be tuned to local conditions, ensuring that it’s comfortable and effective across your entire space. And because control is networked, this level of performance is also easy to maintain.

When a sound masking system’s adjustment zones are larger, numerous loudspeakers are set to the same volume and frequency, but the sound fluctuates across the space as it interacts with elements of the workplace design. This is true regardless of how the loudspeakers are installed. Because you can't make precise changes in specific areas, you have to set each zone to a level that’s merely best on average. If you have to increase the volume to improve the system’s effectiveness for the occupants in one area, it will be too loud for others. If you lower it, you'll sacrifice speech privacy and noise control. This pattern will repeat at unpredictable points across your space.

You can usually expect a 10 percent reduction in performance for each decibel below the target masking volume. Yet, some systems allow as much as 4 to 6 dB variation.

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Can’t I use music or my airflow system to provide masking?

Your airflow system turns on and off throughout the day in order to regulate building temperature. It can't be relied on to provide constant coverage. And, when it is on, the sound it produces isn’t at an appropriate volume level or in the correct frequency spectrum to mask speech.

Music alone doesn’t provide the frequency spectrum required to consistently mask conversation and office noise either. In addition, music preferences are a matter of personal taste, and because music contains variations and patterns, it can be distracting.

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Aren’t sound masking systems the same as white noise?

The term ‘white noise’ describes a specific type of sound used in early sound masking systems during the 1970s. These systems were inflexible and the hissing quality of their sound prevented widespread acceptance - but the term became widely adopted. The LogiSon sound masking system makes an engineered sound comparable to that of soft airflow. If you'd like to hear the system in action, contact us for a site tour.

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Does sound masking cancel noise?

No. Noise-cancellation technology uses microphones to detect noise, which in turn signal a computer (connected with a loudspeaker) to produce an equal and opposite sound wave. This sound wave is projected in the same direction as the noise, which eliminates it.

Noise cancellation is effective for continuous, low-frequency sounds such as engines and traffic. Its applications are limited because the noise source and the listener must always be in the same position for the effects to be experienced. Cancellation is not useful in the office because it can't address the variable and high-frequency nature of speech, or the movement of employees.

Noise-cancelling headphones – a popular item these days – are used to eliminate background sound. That makes surrounding conversations easier to hear.

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Can I just treat the noisy areas of my workplace?

Sound masking should be installed throughout your space. If the masking sound is present in one area and not in another, it will draw attention as occupants move about. Acoustic treatments of individual private offices or selected areas in an open plan are not recommended. Partial sound masking installations should occur only when there is a physical break between two areas, such as a wall, doorway or corridor.

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Why should I use sound masking in private offices?

Conversations that require speech privacy usually take place in closed rooms. But air transfer components, poor door seals, gaps between the wall and ceiling, and breaks in the plenum barriers provide clear paths for overhearing these conversations in neighboring offices.

Also, although the level of acoustic comfort experienced by employees in private offices is generally higher than those in cubicles, almost one third still feel workplace noise interferes with their ability to do their job. And many people keep the doors to their offices open. In this case, they can have less noise control than employees occupying cubicles.

Masking typically adds 5 to 12 dBA of ambient volume to private offices and meeting rooms, which is why one sometimes hears that it ‘adds 10 STC points to walls.’

It can be valuable to add a Programmable Keypad to each private office, allowing individuals to adjust the system’s output to suit their personal preferences or current needs. This component can simply offer control over masking volume, or include paging or music channel selection and control of their volume. An administrator can limit the functions provided by each keypad and the range of allowable adjustment. Also, the system can be programmed to restore these settings at a defined time each day.

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Can I adjust the masking sound?

Sound masking works because occupants come to consider it a natural feature of the space they’re in. If the masking system is turned on and off, or the volume is often adjusted, it will call attention to the system, which could then become a distraction.

The LogiSon sound masking system has a Timer Feature that can be programmed to gradually adjust the masking volume to match expected changes in activity levels throughout the day.

If you change your facility’s layout, your LogiSon Representative should make the required changes to the masking sound. Properly altering the volume or frequency requires both training and specialized equipment.

You can alter other settings using any of the control options the LogiSon sound masking system offers, including Page Director Software, Programmable Keypads, and more.

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Will sound masking interfere with AV equipment?

While it’s been customary to exclude sound masking from meeting or mixed-use rooms with conferencing equipment for fear of interference with microphone pickup, a wall-mounted user control allows the masking volume to simply be lowered when needed. In fact, conference or boardrooms with integrated control systems can also be programmed to automatically adjust the masking and paging settings in harmony with other equipment, such as when the lights, blinds or AV components are activated.

Low levels of masking sound (e.g. 42 dBA) typically have no impact on AV system performance.

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Can the results be measured?

Yes. The acoustic comfort of your space before and after the introduction of sound masking can be measured using a sound analyzer. These measurements include volume, contour, spatial and temporal consistency, dynamic range, and speech privacy levels. All measurements and analysis should be provided by a qualified acoustical engineer.

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Will sound masking work in restaurants?

Locations such as airport lounges and members clubs, which are similar to open-plan office environments, can benefit. However, most restaurants are characterized by high background sound levels and a lot of echo. These issues should be addressed with absorptive materials.

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Does sound masking have industrial applications?

Sound masking addresses noise problems caused by low background sound levels. Because industrial environments usually feature high background sound levels, introducing sound masking won't have an impact.

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Can I use sound masking to address outdoor noise?

It’s difficult to control outdoor noise. Sound masking systems aren't designed for installation in outdoor conditions and it is difficult to properly distribute the sound in such a setting. Physical barriers can be constructed, but may have a limited impact depending on the type of noise you need to address. Landscape designers recommend using water features, such as small fountains, to distract listeners.

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Who do I approach to recommend sound masking for my facility?

If you feel your work environment is uncomfortable due to noise or a lack of speech privacy, you can speak with your facility or department manager about your concerns. If they would like to learn more about sound masking, suggest they contact us or at least review The Recipe for Great Acoustics available in the Resources section of our website.

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What kind of support is available?

It’s important to choose a sound masking system supported by professionals who can properly design the system and provide you with ongoing support as your organization grows and changes.

LogiSon Representatives pride themselves not only on state-of-the-art technology, but also their firm commitment to customer satisfaction. No matter the size of your operation, they have the knowledge and capabilities to meet your needs. And international coverage means they can assure you the same high standard of service no matter where you're located.

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Is the system expensive to operate and maintain?

Churn rates and renovations call for building systems that can be quickly, easily and cost effectively readjusted.

Though older analog sound masking systems needed to be checked periodically, the output of modern digital systems is consistent over time. In other words, the masking system itself won’t be subject to variation. However, it’s advisable to measure performance and tweak the system’s settings when:

  • Changes are made to physical characteristics of the space. The furnishings, partitions, ceiling, flooring, and other factors impact the masking sound, regardless of how the loudspeakers are installed (e.g. downward facing, cut through the ceiling or upward facing, in the plenum).
  • Changes are made to occupancy. For example, relocating call centre or human resource functions into an area formerly occupied by accounting staff will very likely affect masking needs.

The likelihood that these types of change will occur during your system’s 10- to 20-year lifespan is almost certain. Therefore, you simply can’t take a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ approach when it comes to controlling the acoustics of your space.

Investing in a flexible system such as the LogiSon sound masking system increases the efficiency of long-term maintenance. Because you can use a control panel or computer to manage the settings, changes can be made in minutes. The LogiSon sound masking system is also economical to operate. A 13,500 square foot installation uses the same energy as a traditional light bulb.

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Can I expand or relocate the system?

The LogiSon sound masking system can be expanded or relocated with ease.

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Though sound masking has been used in commercial interiors for decades, many people are still unfamiliar with this technology.