Workplace Acoustics


Acoustics in the workplace is big news. As business consolidates into smaller, more open and flexible workspace, the acoustics are playing an ever more important role in enhancing productivity, privacy and worker morale.

It's not as simple as controlling high levels of noise either. Overly quiet workspace is bad news too as conversations are too easily overheard. 

Workspace acoustics can be broken down into 3 main elements - it's as easy as ABC!

A - Absorption controls reverberating sound. In modern workspace with smooth, shiny surfaces of glass, plasterboard and concrete, sound has nowhere to go and builds up quickly to often unhealthy levels. Using acoustic panels, fabrics, carpeting and acoustic ceilings, reverberation is controlled.

B - Blocking sound using partitioning or moveable screens to create cellular offices, quiet rooms and meeting rooms or to contain other areas of noise production like cafe areas etc

C - Cover is the level of ambient or background sound in the space. Sound masking technology is used to control the sound level and sound spectrum to cover speech frequencies accurately.


A and B are well known and designed into most of the latest fit-out projects but on their own simply reduce noise and create quiet space. The resultant, overly quiet open-plan workspace is unproductive as workers constantly interrupt each other. Also, when ambient sound levels are too low, partition walls around private offices/meeting rooms fail to keep conversation private.

For many, ‘a nice quiet office’ on the surface of it desirable, however, unfortunately, a quiet workspace is often even worse than a noisy one

The problem is the effect ambient sound has on speech intelligibility. Rather than simply hearing the 'noise' of others in the workplace, speech intelligibility exposes the detail of a conversation.

Imagine you're in a quiet library attempting to study. The slightest sound against a quiet background stands out. A conversation between others will distract you from your focus as you can easily hear the detail of that conversation which is impossible to ignore. Alternatively, imagine you're in a busy cafe. With a high level of background sound, even the conversation next to you is inaudible.

In today's workspace, as some collaborate in close proximity to those in quiet focus, managing ambient sound level is crucial for productivity, privacy and morale.

The effects are dramatic. With corrected, optimised ambient sound in open-plan, workers can relax into their work in the knowledge their conversations with colleagues or customers are not overheard and judged by their peers.

Partitioned space is private and can be more flexible as heavily engineered full height construction is no longer required as sound masking takes up the shortfall.*

In short, there’s a buzz about the place, sound masking creates atmosphere and acoustic comfort where workers can get done what they came to work for.

Most of Australia's latest great buildings including Barangaroo International Towers, 275 Kent Street, Sydney, Darling Square, Sydney, 100 Mount Street, North Sydney, ANU -Mathematical Sciences Building, Monash University - Learning & Teaching Building are using sound masking technology to provide the high performing space Australia's most successful businesses require.

45dB Systems are Australia’s experts in sound masking. Contact us to find out more