Masking is an act of covering up an unwanted feature. We as humans, do this when wearing physical masks, or even masking conflicts in society. However, on a daily basis, we are exposed to unwanted sounds that trouble our effectiveness in our everyday lives. Sound masking has been proven to be effective in reducing these noises and improving the privacy of conversations, especially in open spaces. Sound masking has the ability to do this by adding a sound with the same frequency as human speech to reduce background noise. It is the process of adding another layer of sound to reduce noise distractions, promote the privacy of conversations, and increase comfort. In a well-engineered and functioning sound masking system, distraction caused by background and bothersome conversations far outweighs any negative response to sound masking. Lastly, it masks sound as mentioned, but unlike white noise, it does so in a more comfortable range of frequencies, effective for tuning out sounds.
Furthermore, sound masking is different than white noise because it masks sound in a range of frequencies that are much more suitable for the human ear. To achieve the most effective environment with the comfort of sound filled with this ideal “quietness,” we need there to be an absence of distracting noises. If someone wanted complete quietness, the only true solution to that is complete isolation. Sound masking tries to mask those transient noises, which are normal daily noises that can rise about 10 dB compared to a common level. Therefore, the conversation sounds, machine sounds, and passing car traffic will be eliminated to promote a focused working environment.
Sound masking, in general, has a lot of positive benefits. One is controlling noise when having a busy open workspace. Noise control is crucial for conversations going on and for communication to be understandable. Another benefit is the privacy of speech, which is crucial to keeping confidential information from being broadcast to a mass of people around the space. Furthermore, fewer distracting noises, creates more focus, so there is improved productivity. With this, conversations are heard clearly, employees can focus, and work gets done smoothly, increasing employee productivity. One of the main benefits as well as no maintenance is required for the usage of sound masking, meaning it does not need to be constantly upgraded or maintained in order to get the best effectiveness. Thus, sound masking is not only beneficial for comfort, but it is also a great return on investment.
Today, sound masking is beneficial for more open office spaces that are hurdled with conversation distractions. With new modernization to open spaces, sounds are heard everywhere, which need to be reduced or masked by sound masking. Additionally, another key place where sound masking thrives is healthcare, financial, legal, retail, educational or government spaces, where privacy is the main concern. By masking conversation sounds in these spaces, information is kept private in rooms with clients or patients. In further detail, hospitals are being rated by HCAHPS survey rating, in which one of the questions in the survey is how to quiet your space. Hospitals can decrease unwanted noise by sound masking. Laboratories, hospital rooms, and medical offices need to be quiet in order for them to provide comfort and privacy to their patients. In laboratories and some hospital rooms, the loud noises of machines can be disturbing from room to room, with the elimination of these distracting noises for those not in the room, it will create an optimizable environment for those who need care. Today, healthcare strives to make comfort their priority to provide care efficiently, and sound masking is one component needed to achieve that. Thus, it is crucial for the healthcare system to optimize quietness by masking distracting noises. In legal rooms, courtrooms, and public spaces the right to privacy is very key, so masking the sound from other rooms especially when there is a case in progress is a huge benefit. Also, in open space settings, it can increase cognizance of conversations and be able to accurately understand what someone is saying over the phone or in person due to less distracting noises. All in all, with efforts toward modernization, sound masking is one key technique to promoting open and functioning spaces for an embodiment of modern simplicity.
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