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On February 27th, 2019

Forget White Noise—Sound Masking is Better for Business


As social creatures, we communicate on a daily basis with friends, colleagues, and clients. But when you’re trying to concentrate, it can be distracting to notice others talking. Overhearing conversations at the office or another work environment might even lead to some privacy issues. Fortunately, these issues can be avoided. That’s why many workplaces turn to sound masking.

Sound Masking vs. White Noise

There’s a common misconception that sound masking is the same as white noise. But they’re really quite different. In fact, what most of us think is “white noise,” might be something else entirely. The sound of pure white noise is actually like the hissy static on an unused radio frequency. That’s not exactly relaxing, is it?

White noise machines are often referenced as a sleep aid, but there are other categories of sound color that could be more useful. Pink noise, for example, is similar to rain or blowing wind. And brown noise, which has even lower frequencies, tends to sound more like a rushing river. Both have been linked to better sleep. But we usually need something else in the workplace because “color” sound machines are limited and localized. Like a loud fan of HVAC unit, the white noise or other sound is coming from an obvious source. As far as productive goes, they’re often more distracting than a comprehensive sound masking system.

That's because a sound masking solution works to cover an entire workspace. When installed correctly, the sound masking benefits will follow you, no matter where you are in the general area. These systems are also different because they’re specifically designed to fall within the range of a comfortable frequency for the human ear. So, as an audio solution, it can be both practical and calming.

The Practical Side of Sound Masking

There are many benefits of using sound masking in an office environment. The first relates to privacy. This audio technique works like a sound buffer to reduce background noise. This makes it easier to carry on conversations without distractions.

For example, if a caller needs to give their credit card or social security number over the phone, a team member may need to repeat the number back to them. Sound masking makes it harder to hear these exchanges in other areas. That way, callers shouldn’t be able to listen in on the information being shared in another conversation.

Because sound masking is installed as an immersive system, it’s designed to work no matter where you are in the room. The subtle, calming noise works to cover the entire space. In that sense, it also can help with productivity by making it easier to tune out intermittent speech when we work. Without sound masking in place, we can’t help but listen in on others chatting about their weekend plans or reviewing notes for an upcoming meeting. But with the right acoustics, everyone can have a better chance of focusing on their specific tasks without getting sidetracked.

Creating a More Comfortable Space

Of course, sound masking doesn’t have to be reserved just for call centers or companies with open floor plans. These sound treatments are used in a variety of commercial spaces and industries. Retail locations can use sound masking to help with the overall customer experience. Other sites like retail pharmacies, banks, and auto dealerships might install systems to help their own clients and customers feel more comfortable discussing personal information. There are plenty of applications.

Figuring out if sound masking is right for your environment starts with a consultation. It’s difficult to know what works when you haven’t experienced true sound masking first-hand, but a local telecommunications company can help you determine the setup that’s best for you and your team. If you think Enhanced Telecommunications and Data could help, please feel free to give us a call at (208) 947-3900. We’d be happy to hear from you!

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