May 13, 2021

Why Aren’t Your Noise Control Solutions Working?

Why Aren’t Your Noise Control Solutions Working?

If your workplace uses acoustic treatments, but occupants can still hear conversations and a slew of other unwanted noises, you might conclude those methods have failed. However, there can be many reasons behind this kind of ‘facility malfunction.’ Here are the most common:

Just add absorptive materials

Many believe that only one or two treatments will provide the desired conditions—for example, adding absorptive ceiling materials. But no technique is a silver bullet. Rather, each part of the acoustical design contributes differently to the overall performance of your space. So, while any given element might be doing its job perfectly, without all of the required pieces in place (see The Recipe for Great Acoustics ), occupants continue to be disrupted by noise and dissatisfied with their level of privacy.

Let’s make it really quiet

Some take noise reduction to the extreme, believing effective acoustics are only achieved when sound levels are as low as possible. However, just as with other ergonomic factors such as lighting, temperature and humidity, there’s actually a comfort zone for the volume of background sound. If it’s too low, everyone can hear you and you’re distracted by any little noise. This condition usually occurs when only absorption and blocking strategies were used. Those methods aren’t failing—they just can’t meet the need to control the background sound level, which is handled by a sound masking system.

Closed rooms are enough

Perhaps you’re relying on closed rooms—meeting rooms or booth-like spaces—to provide privacy for open-plan occupants who need to make a phone call or focus on a project. Unfortunately, they tend to get booked up, leaving many in the lurch. In any case, closed rooms don’t always provide the expected level of privacy. If the background sound level outside the room is lower than the sounds penetrating their shell, conversations can still be overheard.

Let’s install sound masking…without tuning

Simply installing a sound masking system doesn’t ensure success. The sound has to be tuned to meet a particular spectrum—a ‘curve’ that’s engineered to maximize acoustic control, while not sacrificing occupant comfort. A masking system can’t achieve this goal ‘out of the box.’ After it’s installed, its output has to be tuned by a qualified technician, who measures the sound and adjusts it as needed until the curve is consistently met throughout your space. Ask your masking vendor or acoustician for a post-installation tuning report that shows the results they achieved within all treated areas.