What is the difference between sound masking and white noise?
Sound masking is often misunderstood as white noise. White noise is irritating when it is amplified, sounding similar to a loud AM radio static. Sound masking is different than white noise because it is band limited to only overlap with the frequencies of human speech. By matching the frequencies of human speech, sound masking is specifically engineered to mask conversations for greater speech privacy and productivity. White noise, includes all frequencies at equal energy and can be distracting and annoying. Sound masking is more comfortable acoustically, as only the frequency spectrum needed to increase privacy and minimize distraction are produced.
Why not just get a white noise machine?
White noise machines are localizable. This means that you can tell where the sound is coming from. Just like a fan, your ears can spot a white noise machine and it thus becomes distracting in of itself. A sound masking system is a more immersive experience as the sound is everywhere. When properly tuned and installed, sound masking should fade into the background. There should not be any gaps in sound masking as you walk throughout the office and a constant sound field should be produced whether you are sitting or standing.
How can sound masking provide an immersive experience?
Sound masking should be installed with great a detailed installation plan, accounting for every light fixture, wall, and even the material of your ceiling. This is achieved by appropriate spacing of sound masking speakers (emitters) and adjusting the intensity of the sound masking. Direct field sound masking aims the sound masking downwards, so in plenum obstructions do not interfere with the sound masking. This is a newer approach to sound masking for maximum uniformity. Networked sound masking is another way to have precisely engineered sound masking. Networked sound masking system enables individual speaker level control, meaning you can adjust each speaker to blend into the room.