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Sound Masking Comes Full Circle

Feb 28, 2008 10:28 AM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

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In an age where security and privacy is king—made that way, ironically, from the very technology moving us forward (two steps forward, one step back)—buildings are growing more intelligent in protecting our everyday conversations from outside listeners. What’s more, a growing number of office spaces are based around open plans, separated by little more than cubicle partitions, allowing speech and noise to travel faster and farther, causing a disruption in the environment. To work efficiently means the space needs to be equipped with a sound-masking system that can handle the inherent buzz and hum of the office space, such as printers whirling, phones ringing, and coworkers conversing around the water cooler, which can also add to the audible din.

In the '80s, sound and video contractors included sound masking in their portfolio of products offered. But because the technology and the education behind correctly designing, installing, and deploying a sound-masking system weren’t fully adopted, sound masking as part of the sound and video contracting industry was left in the dust— left to other contractors to pick up the pieces and turn it around. Since then, the technology and education have taken huge steps, and sound-masking systems are rapidly becoming a cornerstone in commercial office spaces, hospitals, banks, libraries, and many other buildings that require a comfortable and secure environment.

“What’s happened is that [sound masking has] come around full circle because everyone has figured out better ways to do sound masking on so many levels,” says Vice President Jonathan Leonard of Lencore Acoustics, a sound-masking systems provider in the industry. “The technology that we are integrating into our products makes sense for sound and video integrators and contractors to really consider making this part of their portfolio again because the systems that we’ve designed work properly and give integrators and contractors the tools that they need to sell successful and efficient systems. At the same time, these integrators and contractors are the right people in the right channels who will be installing and servicing these types of systems.’ It’s kind of remarkable that it’s come back full circle.”

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