When investigating the purchase of a sound masking system, you will be introduced to several different concepts.
One of the most important characteristics of a quality sound masking system is uniformity. As people circulate through the workplace, the sound masking should be uniform. Differences in volume or spectrum will draw attention. Sound masking should be unobtrusive and blend into the background.
There are several manufacturers in the market today that are using systems with a network backbone. They are designed like a computer network. They use a central computer to send information to network nodes that then distribute the signal to sound masking and paging speakers.
The computer allows small groups of speakers to be changed remotely to allow differing volume levels and spectrum adjustments. The manufacturers of these systems use terms such as “separate and independent configuration” and “on-demand control”.
After initial commissioning, the Facility Manager will have the controls and as changes are made, the system will become less uniform. With each change, the system will drift away from its intended purpose of masking conversational distractions.
We strongly feel that networked systems provide Complexity without Benefit.
The systems also require electrical connections located through out the treated area to power the network equipment and the speakers.
Centrally controlled low voltage systems require a single electrical connection at an equipment rack. All wiring from the rack to the speakers is conducted through low voltage plenum rated cable.
Centrally controlled systems provide the ability to deliver highly zoned sound masking and paging with a stable and reliable platform. Once commissioned, they run trouble free for years.
By all means, compare systems and compare prices. Then take a look at the organization and ask several key questions:
Who will install the system?
Who will commission and tune the system?
Who will be responsible for service calls?
Many times, large manufacturer’s representatives subcontract installation and service to data cabling firms. Look for suppliers with in-house personnel and expertise in sound masking and acoustics.