While the cost of a sound masking system is worth asking, it’s important to note that there’s a lot to scope out before choosing a sound masking system on the market.
Sound masking is great for productivity in the workplace, not to mention customer and staff privacy and satisfaction. It works by transmitting a sound spectrum in a parallel frequency that evens out with human speech to make conversations unintelligible.
Usually, speech privacy with this technology is noticed 15 to 20 feet away. With specialized speakers circulated across the office and the main system in a centralized location, sound masking can be evenly distributed.
Auditory masking doesn’t just foster in-office speech privacy but enables companies to cut down on office setup or refurbishment costs. These include cutting down up to 3% of costs incurred in acquiring and installing ceiling tiles, interior walls, lower partitions, and other acoustic control materials that absorb and block sound.
Apart from cost reduction, auditory masking is more effective in covering background noise: While sound absorbing and sound blocking methods are 73% and 81% effective respectively, sound covering goes up to 87%, thus creating a more ambient acoustic result.
That being said, there’s the question: How much does a sound masking system cost? Well, you want to make sure that “cost” pictures every aspect of maximizing your budget, whether you’re on a tight budget or have the leeway for sophisticated options. To get yourself the best offer for your budget, you need to tick your boxes based on the following key considerations.
Before thinking about cost, think about user experience. This will help you measure your budget rationally. It’s essential to scope out the features of each system and match them to your office needs before making a purchase (linkedin.com/advice/0/what-best-practices-incorporating-sound-masking). That way, you don’t just get around the cost-benefit analysis but get to maximize your budget.
Here are key metrics that help to measure how suitable a sound masking system is for an office environment:
When it comes to volume and frequency output, auditory masking systems differ. It’s worth looking into how noisy your office environment is on a normal day. But this is something you want to leave to a sound engineer.
However, as a rule of thumb, anything around 47 – 48 decibels is a suitable volume range, and a sound spectrum of 80 hertz to 10,000 hertz is how you tell the frequency spectrum is top quality. Nonetheless, there’s a leeway on that, should you be on a quite modest budget.
Comfort quality can be a subtle metric to apprehend on your own. Yet, it’s possible to tell the difference in the convenience levels of auditory masking systems. These five factors are how it’s dissected:
- Sound Uniformity
- Tuning Flexibility
- Multiple Noise Sources
- Warp Around (Repeatability)
- Full Broadband Spectrum of Sound
Again, here’s where you let the sound technicians come in. Simply put, these factors tell how well a system blends in to initiate smooth noise cancellation.
The idea behind ensuring comfort quality is to ensure the system is creating ambient noise. To mention, noise comes in a spectrum of frequencies defined using different colors in audio engineering called color noise. Check here to know more about it.
White noise has the broadest mix of sound frequencies, making it versatile for a wide range of noise cancellations.
However, while white noise is soothing and great, the more tranquilizing color noise is pink noise.
Office environments are usually disrupted by background noise, which comprises low-frequency sounds. With white noise being quite high pitch, opting for the more comfy option would mean settling for pink noise, which is what setting up an auditory masking system is about.
When it comes to auditory masking systems, control tweaks your overall user experience. Whether you’re opting for a networked auditory masking system or the classic non-networked variant, you want to check for these controls when deciding:
- Direct Headend Control
- Infrared Remotes
- Volume Wall Dials
- Digital Wall Plates
- PC Software
There’s no straight answer to the question if you’re looking from an overall budget perspective. The costs of auditory masking systems vary based on the installation area. However, if you’d be breaking this down to cost per square foot, you should be looking at $1 – $3 on average. Usually, that’s an ideal range to spend especially when you consider the cost-benefit of an auditory masking system installation in terms of ROI.
The ROI of a sound masking system is primarily determined by the productivity percentage increase against the setup cost over time. Essentially, it tells you the growth margin that comes with getting one of these noise control systems for an office facility.
Below is an example of how to calculate the ROI of a sound masking system:
Hypothesize an insurance office construction project.
Research shows sound masking installation increases office productivity by 10-25% on average and 3% on the lower limit of the entire productivity stats range.
Based on industry standards, the average office area per employee is 120 square feet.
Given an area of 24,000 square feet for the installation space with 200 employees having an average annual salary of $50,000 and annually incurred indirect expenses of $10,000, below is a dissection of the calculation parameters and ROI to expect:
|Part I: Calculation Parameters|
|Percentage of production increase||3% (lower limit of percentage productivity increase)|
|Average annual employee salary||$50,000|
|Average annual indirect expenses per employee||$10,000|
|Number of employees||200|
|sq. ft. needing masking||24,000|
|Cost of sound masking per sq. ft.||$3 (Upper limit of sound masking cost)|
|Average office area per employee||120 sq. ft.|
|Total investment per employee||$60,000 (Annual salary + Annual indirect expenses)|
Part II: ROI Calculations
Salary recovered in productivity per employee = Percentage of production increase x Total investment per employee
Total salary recovered in productivity = Salary recovered in productivity per employee x Number of employees
Cost of masking = Cost of sound masking per sq. ft. x average office area per employee
Total cost of masking = Cost of masking x Number of employees
Sound masking system ROI (in amount) = (Cost of masking per employee – Salary recovered in productivity per employee) x Number of employees
Sound masking system ROI (in %) = (Sound masking system ROI ÷ Total salary recovered in productivity) x 100%
ROI Calculations for the Sample Case:
Salary recovered in productivity per employee: 3% x $60,000 = $1,800
Total salary recovered in productivity: $1,800 x 200 = $360,000
Cost of masking: $3 x 120 sq. ft. = $360
Total cost of sound masking: $360 x 200 = $72,000
Sound masking system ROI (in amount): ($1,800 – $360) x 200 = $288,000
Sound masking system ROI (in %): ($288,000 ÷ $360,000) x 100% = 80%
The ROI in the sample case is based on the lowest productivity increase (3%). This conservative approach proves that installing a sound masking system is efficient in yielding significant benefits over the cost of installation. Again, this cost-benefit analysis is based on the first year’s result, therefore not covering the long-term productivity gain over fixed setup cost analysis.
Ultimately, installing a sound masking system is a great way to revamp productivity in an office space, control privacy levels, and ensure convenience for employees and customers. What’s more, it’s significantly inexpensive when compared with the benefits gained as well as with other office noise cancellation options.