Sound masking and speech privacy – FAQ

Sound Masking is scientifically proven and has been employed successfully in many thousands of workspaces worldwide.

1. Does active sound masking really work?

Yes. Post-installation studies carried out by an international multi-disciplinary consultancy conclude that our sound masking systems give genuine improvement in concentration and production levels, speech privacy and acoustic comfort.

2. How does sound masking work?

A discrete, low level and totally random sound is introduced into the workspace by means of a Quell sound masking generator and loudspeaker network.

The equipment is usually located out of sight in the ceiling void. Occupants become naturally less aware of the unwanted noises such as co-workers conversations, business machines, scraping chairs, telephones, air conditioning units and so on, leading to significant improvements in concentration and productivity and in turn reducing distraction and stress levels.

In areas where the primary requirement is speech privacy, such as doctors’ surgeries, bank counters, etc., the signal is centred in the area where the conversation is likely to be overheard, such as waiting areas.

3. Aren’t sound masking systems expensive?

No. To achieve the same effect as sound masking by using conventional materials and/or building changes would cost many times more and compromise other building design and use considerations.

4. Wouldn’t we be better off spending the money on traditional absorption and insulation materials?

Traditional absorption and sound insulation materials have a part to play in most solutions, and indeed we specify such products in many of our projects, However, to achieve similar levels of acoustic comfort with the use of traditional materials alone is likely to cost much more than a complete Quell® solution.

5. Is sound masking the same as ‘white noise’?

No. Quell® sound masking systems use a completely random, non-looping signal generated continuously, unlike for instance a pseudo-random noise source commonly found in professional audio equipment’s configuration tools, or any recording of noise.

6. Our office is small with few occupants – will sound masking work for us?

Quell® systems are fully scalable and can be configured for any environment, large or small.

7. What if we change the layout of our office?

The system can be reconfigured for the new layout with the minimum of disruption.

8. What if we move offices?

The main components of the system can be taken out then reinstalled and reconfigured for the new environment.

9. How much energy does an active sound masking system use?

Very little, around as much as a single light bulb. In addition, the system can be programmed to shut down outside of office hours, thereby saving more energy.

10. Can we use it as an announcement system?

Yes, the system can be integrated with announcement and paging systems (however the opposite does not apply – active sound masking cannot be broadcast through your existing announcement and paging system).

11. We prefer to use soft background music to cover up unwanted noise. Isn’t this good enough?

Piped music does not achieve speech privacy as efficiently as a true sound masking system.
Music itself can cause distraction and annoyance. Playing music also usually involves the payment of royalties to the publishers, which could amount to several hundred pounds every year, even for a small waiting room.

12. Can it be used in large buildings?

We have been installing sound masking into various buildings for many years, including very large systems covering hundreds of thousands of square feet.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about active sound masking systems.