Sound Masking for Privacy: Protect Sensitive Data

Two office workers attempt to share sensitive information without others overhearing. Learn more about how sound masking for privacy can offer a valuable solution at

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Sound masking for privacy is the answer to the open office problem. In today’s modern office, the concept of the open office has been nothing new since the 1990s; open office concepts have been all the rage, even some 20+ years later. However, as these hubs of connectivity and collaboration buzz along, the potential for critical or classified information to slip out into the office becomes much more of a reality.

Enter the hero of the day: sound masking. Sound masking is a technique of using sound equipment to generate a specific frequency set of ‘white noise’ that helps to drone out the buzz of conversation to all those listening ears.

In this guide, we’ll examine the realities of open office ‘collaborative hubs’ and how sound masking may be the best solution for most modern open-office concepts. Please sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s figure out how to keep those confidential conversations quiet.

Understanding Sound Masking for Privacy

What is Sound Masking?

Sound masking is a technique used to improve speech privacy and reduce noise distractions in offices and work areas. It involves the addition of a low-level, unobtrusive background sound, similar to a hum, often referred to as “white noise” or sometimes “pink noise,” to an environment. This background sound takes precise engineering to mask or cover up unwanted noises and conversations, making it harder for individuals to overhear each other. (1)

Importance of Sound Masking in Modern Workspaces

Sound masking is a powerful technique for minimizing overheard conversations and audio distractions in the workplace. The technology is incredibly effective in solving the biggest problem with open-office concepts: audio (conversation) bleed.

When open office concepts hit the scene in the early 90’s, business owners and office designers alike reveled in the new potential for collaboration. The open office was supposed to be the savior of collaboration and inter-office connectivity. 

However, according to research, open-office concepts have not lived up to the hype. In fact, research has shown that technological leaps forward, like instant messaging, instant virtual meetings, and similarly fast-paced technology, have far outpaced the slow pace of office design. (2)

When it comes down to the line, the essential takeaway here is not that we need to re-design and renovate any open office concepts again. The point is that with today’s technology, sound masking in your workplace to aid in privacy is an authentic answer to the noise that the open office has created (no pun intended).

The 3 Top Challenges in Choosing Sound Masking Solutions (and How to Overcome Them)

  1. Knowing Who to Trust: Identifying the Right Solution Provider

The number one challenge to getting the right sound masking solution is knowing who to trust. Many hobby audio-visual installers may claim that they have the solution you need, but do they have the trust, the length of experience, and the professional knowledge to deliver the results you expect? Not only that, but will they stand by their installation, will they help train your team to use the equipment, and will they be there in the years to come if you need to call for service?

Sadly, in Ontario, the answer is far too often silenced after the initial sale, when solution providers suddenly disappear the minute you need their assistance. That’s why at Century AV, we are proud to stand by our clients and strategic partners for the long haul.

Don’t take our word for it – see and hear for yourself when you watch our case study videos where our clients tell it like it is: Century Audio Visual Client Case Studies.

  1. Planning for AV Equipment Integration

It’s essential to plan early for appropriate AV system design. By researching and planning, you can determine where, when, and what needs installation. However, if the task seems a little daunting, it is; that’s why the second biggest challenge we see is a lack of appropriate planning for system integration.

System integration requires careful planning and consideration of several factors, such as ambient noise level, power requirements and supplies, cable routing, and appropriate integration with existing systems, such as public address systems. Furthermore, the equipment has to serve its purpose in a balanced way that doesn’t become intrusive to workers.

To ensure compatibility and future-proofing of the system, as well as integration considerations, we recommend working with a seasoned professional who can help design the appropriate system for your business. Contact us today for more information on our sound masking for privacy systems.

  1. Balancing Cost and Quality

The third most common challenge is budget considerations and avoiding the trap of low-cost, low-quality solutions. A robust AV system, whether it’s a system designed for boardrooms, conferencing, or a sound masking system, is worth the investment. These types of systems are designed specifically for optimizing your workplace, so it’s not something that budget-shopping will do any good. 

In fact, most of the systems we’ve seen fail due to poorly selected equipment for the application—typical when companies put an initial budget in front of expected results. Save your money—get a system that will last and provide the long-term benefits of investing in quality AV systems.

Impact of Appropriate Sound Masking Solutions

Typically, businesses look for sound masking solutions after something has already set a path in motion, such as:

  • Personnel complaints
  • Unproductive or distracted environments cause operational slowdowns
  • Confidential information slipped out
  • Client or public complaints

These are just a few examples of situations that we’re pretty sure you’d prefer to avoid. So, consider the impact of a less-distracted workforce, a more secure information environment, and a generally more pleasant atmosphere. The consequences can be far-reaching and impactful to organizations’ success. Furthermore, adaptive sound masking has been shown to improve and benefit team members’ mental health, offering a more peaceful, less disturbing work environment. (3)

Sound masking improves privacy, productivity, and the mental health of team members through the provision of a more peaceful and less disturbing environment.

Data-Driven Conclusion: The Value of Effective Sound Masking

In conclusion, sound masking is a critical solution for maintaining privacy and reducing distractions in modern open-office environments. By integrating sound masking systems, you can significantly enhance speech privacy, protect sensitive information, and create a more focused and productive workspace. 

The challenges in selecting the right provider, planning for integration, and balancing cost and quality are real. Still, you can effectively manage them with the right partner. Century AV stands out by offering reliable, high-quality AV solutions and ongoing support, ensuring your investment continues to deliver value for years to come. 

Don’t compromise on your workspace’s privacy and productivity—contact Century AV today to discuss how sound masking can benefit your office.

References and Further Reading

Article Sources

  1. Wikipedia Contributors. 2024. “Sound Masking.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. March 7, 2024.
  2. “The Truth about Open Offices.” 2019. Harvard Business Review. November 2019.
  3. Lisanne Bergefurt, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, and Theo Arentze. 2024. “Level-Adaptive Sound Masking in the Open-Plan Office: How Does It Influence Noise Distraction, Coping, and Mental Health?” Applied Acoustics 217 (February): 109845–45.

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