Indirect-Field vs. Direct-Field Sound Masking Systems2018-05-16T01:17:44+00:00

Why install indirect-field or direct-field sound masking? One reason is that The Center for the Built Environment performed a study with more than 23,000 employees, from various industries, to understand how noise impacts worker performance. 43% of respondents reported that noise has a negative impact on their work.1

In today’s varied and ever-changing work environment, sound masking can help. Adding sound masking technology to a work environment can help increase productivity by approximately 2-4% while reducing distraction and improving speech privacy.2

Sound masking systems are installed by trained, certified experts in acoustical sound masking solutions. When introducing sound masking into an environment, there are two system-types to choose from: direct-field and indirect-field sound masking.

Why Direct-Field Sound Masking Is The Preferred Choice (Where Applicable)

Direct-field sound masking, sometimes called omnidirectional field systems, produce even, pre-adjusted acoustics straight into the work environment – this manufactures a steady and stable sound in the entire workspace. Direct field sound masking is unobtrusive and achieves superior performance while avoiding the need for constant and, sometimes, complicated tuning needed by out-of-date indirect sound masking solutions.

Direct Sound Masking Diagram

Why Indirect-Field Sound Masking Systems Are Not Ideal

In contrast to direct-field sound masking, alternative indirect-field sound masking solutions (also referred to as plenum-based or in-plenum sound masking systems) use above-ceiling audio speakers to emit random broadband sound in an upward direction.

Installation typically involves placing large amplifiers above vaulting, beams and ceiling tiles. Sound waves reflect off the highest point and back down, through the ceiling tiles, and into the work environment below.

Obstructions above the ceiling (the plenum), such as structural components and HVAC parts, impact how indirect sound masking is led back into the work environment. Subsequently, resulting in volatile and unstable acoustics. For instance, this variety of sound masking can sometimes generate “hot” or “cold” spots – meaning that some areas don’t receive enough masking, while other spaces suffer from excessive masking. In addition, there may also be sound leakage; this unwelcome sound can pollute private spaces that do not require masking.

Indirect Sound Masking Diagram

Check out even more pros and cons of both sound masking solutions.

Indirect or Direct-Field Sound Masking? [Infographic]
Indirect & Direct-Field Sound Masking [Diagram]

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