Sound Masking Demo in Tampa

Commercial Acoustics Sound Masking Tampa

Commercial Acoustics has installed a sound-masking demonstration at its headquarters on Cypress St near downtown Tampa. A newer technology, aimed at providing speech privacy in open offices, Sound Masking is a tool that is typically most helpful in open office spaces or areas requiring long duration focus (libraries, classrooms etc.). Commercial Acoustics has installed sound masking systems in various local businesses, but now having a system installed at their own facility interested customers can visit the space to see the power.

Sound masking is a technology that deploys pink noise speakers typically above the ceiling grid to raise the ambient background level in a space. By raising the background noise, loud distracting sounds become less apparent to the “receiver”. For a list of sound masking case studies check here:

As you can see, the need for sound masking varies widely but is a good resource when sound isolation alone does not solve the problem.

Sofwerx – Tampa Bay, FL

commercial acoustics sofwerx absorption

Sofwerx was a Joint Venture between the Department of Defense and a local non-profit known as the Doolittle Institute. The focus is to develop a training and strategy group that could provide counter-UAV support for our troops.

The team was faced with an extremely aggressive task of converting an old, 33,000 square foot warehouse into an operational site in less than two months. While the architect and design team was busy planning layouts and aesthetics, they realized that there was one challenging element that had not yet been considered: acoustics!

The site had a number of unique elements:

  1. A large auditorium where drones and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) would fly and pilots practice. This was to be converted from the previous “sanctuary” – a large, open space that already suffered from substandard reverberation. To make matters worse, the team needed to remove all of the plush furniture which was helping absorb some of the current echo.
  2. An open office area where pilots, technicians, operators, and management could meet to discuss new counter-drone tactics. None of the office walls went to deck, and most of them did not even have ACT tiles. Furthermore, 90% of the staff were to work collaboratively on large tables out in the open “bullpen”.
  3. A machine shop was directly adjacent to a presentation room. While the machine shop was necessary to quickly manufacture replacement parts, it was to be used simultaneously to the rest of the space. With grinding and milling operations around 110dB, this threatened to make it very difficult to hold meetings immediately next door.

Ultimately, Sofwerx reached out to Commercial Acoustics to provide support in all 3 areas.

  1. Absorption panels were manufactured in-house and delivered to the site within weeks. Commercial Acoustics determined the amount of panels necessary for each space and designed the panel layout for optimal effectiveness.  Furthermore, the design team loved the concept of acoustic “teepees” or wings, hanging over 6-person desk spaces. These were uniquely designed, built, delivered, and installed within 30 days.
  2. A sound-masking system was installed and tuned in the main open office area to provide additional speech privacy. Where none of the office walls went to deck or had ACT, the masking system was the only sound solution that would be effective in that space; raising the background dB level and preventing confidential conversations from bleeding into the adjacent spaces.
  3. Finally, soundproofing membrane material was used in the machine shop, to attenuate unwanted noise prior to it reaching the presentation area. We also recommended that the high-NC machinery was moved to the exterior walls and a high-STC solid core door was installed, to avoid an untreated flanking path.

For these varying sound issues, none have a blanket solution and each environment and sound concern needs to be analyzed in order to find the appropriate solution. Our team was on hand to collaborate with the architects, interior designers and clients to ensure that the sound quality, code compliance, aesthetics, and time frame were met. By implementing a holistic approach, the client received great results, and on an extremely tight timeline.

If you found anything in common in this case study with your projects, let us know here and one of our acoustical specialists will reach out to you shortly.

MidFlorida Credit Union Call Center – Case Study

call center sound masking acoustics

MidFlorida Credit Union employees found themselves struggling with voice carryover in their headquarters’ call center. With calls being placed continuously by the many employees in the center, background noise built up and became a real problem for workers who were unable to hear over the noise created by their coworker’s calls.

The excessive background noise was distracting workers and creating a difficult environment for them to focus in. The difficulties and frustration created by this type of noise problem can lead to decreased productivity and harm performance.

This Credit Union employed the help of Commercial Acoustics in the hopes of resolving the situation before it became even more problematic. One of our soundproofing specialists assessed the building and recommended the installation of several carefully spaced speakers throughout the center. Once in place, the sound masking speakers play a white noise designed to eliminate background noise in critical listening environments.

The background noise was effectively masked by the equipment we installed, solving the call center’s problem and improving the overall quality of the workplace. The newfound quiet will allow for greater concentration among employees and likely lead to an increase in productivity.

The Commercial Acoustics Team is happy to have played a significant role in the bettering of this credit union’s call center.

Sheriff’s Office – Sound Masking

sound masking for pinellas county sherrifs office

The Pinellas County’s Sheriff’s Office was struggling with a number of noise complaints. Among other things, they were concerned with the sound privacy in interview rooms, to ensure that interviews were conducted in a confidential manner.

So they contacted Commercial Acoustics. After an initial site visit, we prepared a solution that would provide significant speech privacy without the need for a major construction budget. By pairing sound masking speaker systems with additional soundproofing wall membranes, we were able to increase the STC of the walls while also masking background noise.

The combination of the two approaches yielded impressive results: primarily, that officers no longer needed to worry about being overheard while they worked (and were not distracted by other conversations). While the sound masking system was installed, tuned, and implemented in a single day, the soundproofing membrane for the walls required an additional several weeks to complete each of the 10 interview rooms. This is a level of soundproofing that many law enforcement agencies do not require, but which provides superior soundproofing for a wide array of applications.

For many clients, the benefit of sound-masking cannot be over-stressed. The highly-tuned speakers provide an exceptional ability to mask background noise, and thereby reduce the “dynamic range” that so many office employees find extremely distracting. The speakers are hidden from view, concealed behind the ACT. They do not interfere with voice recordings, and actually enhance the speech privacy over phone conversations. Affordably priced, at approximately $1.00-$2.50/square foot, it can make the difference between a noisy workspace and an acoustically-treated office.

Sound Masking for Open Offices

sound masking commercial acoustics

In open layouts – whether it’s offices, libraries, or museums – noise often becomes a major concern. Without a proper background noise, loud noises are particularly distracting, due to the Dynamic Range that occurs (difference between quietest and loudest moments). Large dynamic ranges make it difficult for employees to concentrate or visitors to enjoy the space.

We apply the ABC (Absorption, Blocking, Cover) approach to many of our consultations, but open spaces often don’t allow for sound-blocking solutions, and additional absorption makes little or no improvement.

Sound masking is the addition of a white noise or pink noise system of light background sound. This particular frequency of sound essentially helps break up the silence and reduce audible distractions of human speech or impulse sounds. When used correctly, sound masking systems allow for greater productivity, increased privacy and comfort and a more enjoyable workplace.

Speech privacy and sound masking go hand-in-hand. Speech privacy is the ability of an unintentional listener to overhear and understand another person’s conversation. This is common in large ‘bullpen’ open office environments or in adjacent offices where walls don’t go to deck and sound has a clear flanking path to transfer in and out. Not only is a lack of speech privacy distracting it can also become a breach of confidentiality in law offices or physician patient rooms.

One recent project Commercial Acoustics treated was a library in Pinellas County, Florida. Readers were often distracted by a “Makers Area” where louder interaction was common. Since the wall didn’t go to deck and deck and it wasn’t possible to add a barrier between the areas, sound masking was the obvious solution. Masking consists of speakers that hang above the area (often concealed by ceiling tiles) that create a constant, homogeneous background noise at a decibel level that the visitors don’t notice but masks unwanted sounds. In this area, we spaced the speakers at 15 ft on center, and implemented a 45 dBA background (lower than most office settings). Within 2 weeks and at about $1 per square foot, the masking system was installed and calibrated, allowing the library to prevent future noise complaints and improve its visitors satisfaction.

Sound Masking Layout