April 2009 - Cambrian College, Facilities Management

2009

April 2009 - Cambrian College, Facilities Management

ProSonics was asked to investigate acoustical privacy issues in and around a group of small offices used at Cambrian College. Due to the nature of the studies and testing being done in these offices, a high degree of privacy was required. ProSonics was called to investigate concerns that the private conversations being held in some of the rooms could be heard and, more importantly, understood in the adjacent rooms and hallway.

In general, privacy can be achieved in two ways. First, not letting a conversation be heard outside a given space, which involves soundproofing the space. Often, this can become very expensive, especially if a room is already constructed. A second means of achieving privacy is to reduce the signal to noise ratio, or in other words, letting the conversation that needs to be kept private get lost in the background noise of the space in which it is being listened to. This second method is called sound masking, and involves the generation of a low loudness, constant volume, equalized noise that is not distinguishable from the background noises in a room without the sound masking, but increases the background noise just enough so that the conversation is "lost" in the background noise.

To identify the optimal method for achieving privacy, a series of acoustical measurements must be taken in the subject rooms to determine their background noise levels and their steady-state sound transmission loss, or "soundproofness". Then, after doing some mathematical analysis, various conversation scenarios can be evaluated to determine an optimal mix of soundproofing techniques and/or sound masking implementation that can achieve the desired level of privacy.