Sound Masking for Your Home Office

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COVID-19 has made work from home and school from home the norm in many places across the country. Some love it, and some hate it, but I think everyone can agree on one thing—trying to do your work with the kids home is sort of like trying to work in the middle of a dangerous construction site in which you are also required to serve beverages and other refreshments to a horde of very demanding, supposedly starving, jarringly loud construction workers on a tri-hourly basis. This kind of cacophonous nightmare can do a lot more damage than simply interrupting Zoom calls or making it impossible to read emails. It can blast your most brilliant epiphanies into an oblivion of nothingness, never to return. Even worse, if you’re in a field where you’re regularly discussing sensitive information with associates and clients, such as in the legal or mental health professions, having anyone within earshot can compromise the confidentiality of your calls, potentially putting your business at risk.

How do we stop this madness? One thing that people try is playing white noise through their phone or Bluetooth speaker while they work. The problem is, for many people, the sound of the white noise is more irritating than the screams from the angry mob of ingrates downstairs. Oh sorry, I mean the kids. Anyway, if the white noise just isn’t cutting it for you, and you’re at your wits’ end, there may be a more elegant solution that, unless you’re in the field of commercial audio, you’ve probably never heard of.

Enter sound masking. A sound masking system is different from a plain old white-noise generator because it allows you to contour the background sound to “mask” only the frequencies that make up human speech. White noise includes all the frequencies of the audio spectrum playing at the same time, which can definitely mask the sound of people talking, but can also become tiring on the ears, and even distracting. While sound masking does rely on white or pink noise as the basis of the sound generation, it takes it a step further, allowing you to filter specific frequencies out of the sound, so it blends seamlessly into the background, maximizing privacy without being overbearing.

Even if this is the first time you’re hearing of sound masking, I can assure you that you have heard sound masking before. Sound masking is widely used in open plan office layouts, doctors’ offices, law offices, banks, and many other commercial spaces where people are working in close quarters, but need to protect sensitive conversations and block out distractions. These systems are generally installed by contracted commercial audio integrators, but what most people don’t realize, is that you can easily install a self-contained sound masking system in your home office all by yourself.

The Atlas AM1200 Low Profile Sound Masking System is an all-in-one system that uses a 24W amplifier to power two built-in wide-range 2 x 4" speakers. Perfect for your small home office, this compact system can generate white or pink noise with a variable hi-cut filter for fine-tuning the masking noise to the room's environment. The unit plugs into an outlet using an external power supply and is small enough to be discreetly hidden somewhere in the room, either mounted on a wall or under a desk or couch. Also commonly used in small commercial applications, the AM1200 allows for up to 20 external speakers to be daisy-chained from it, but for small home office setups, the built-in speakers should be all you need.

Atlas Sound AM1200 Low Profile Sound Masking System

Installing a simple sound masking system in your home office is a cinch, and it can greatly improve the quality of your work environment. Not only will it shield your ears and mind from the calamity of chaos that your kids are causing in the other room, but it will also help to protect the privacy and confidentiality of your business, clients, and personal relationships.

I hope you enjoyed this quick rundown on sound masking in your home office. If you have any questions or comments, I encourage you to leave them in the Comments section, below. 

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