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Tech Showcase: Acoustics and Sound Masking

Modern solutions to reducing noise and sound distractions that put all the calculation and setup behind the scenes to make an acoustically comfortable room.

All too often the primary objective of a sound installation quickly becomes the wiring, speakers, and control panels, while the acoustic environment just is what it is. But just as a projected image can take on new life and an apparent boost in lumens when the lighting can be dimmed near the screen, a room that has been acoustically prepared makes all the difference in sound performance. Acoustic panels can be an artistic statement as well as an engineering asset. The other acoustic arena is sound masking, and there are modern solutions to reducing noise and sound distractions that put all the calculation and setup behind the scenes to make an acoustically comfortable room.

Acoustical Surfaces Curved Diffusor

The Acoustic Panel Multipurpose Room Kits from Acoustical Solutions come with the ideal number of decorative sound-absorbing acoustical wall panels for a room, in two standard Guilford of Maine Anchorage Fabric colors: Fossil and Birch. The square footage of sound-absorbing material in each kit is calculated to meet your room size and help lower sound intensity and improve speech intelligibility. Small Room Kits are designed for rooms up to or near 100 square feet (10ft. x10ft.) and Medium Room Kits can fit rooms up to or near 150 square feet (10ft.x15ft.). Large Room Kits are designed for rooms up to or near 200 square feet (10ft.x20ft.). The panels are Class 1 fire rated and each order includes 48 impaling pins, five tubes of acoustical adhesive, and detailed mounting instructions. The panels are designed for recording studios, classrooms, home theaters, offices, and conference rooms.

Acoustical Surfaces Silk Metal Ceiling Tiles

Among the plethora of sound treatment products from Acoustical Surfaces, two representative examples stand out. Silk Metal ceiling tilesare state-of-the-art micro-perforation technology sound absorbers with an elegant smooth appearance that are designed for conference rooms, restaurants, bars, venues, theaters, clean rooms, and any application requiring broad-band sound absorption with easy installation and maintenance. Silk Metal tiles feature an excellent 0.80 NRC rating per ASTM C423 with a 4in. airspace and no liner, with no particulate fallout or VOC issues. The tiles have reversible surfaces and are available in white or black. The Curve Diffusors are natural-sounding, accurate, affordable, and an easy way to improve room acoustics. Best for improving the sound of studios, theaters, listening rooms, and conference rooms, they feature built-in MLV Bass Control membranes, and they may be mounted vertically, horizontally, or free-standing (with a Combo Stand). The devices are lab-tested and field-proven, with accurate broadband diffusion. They are sold in many fabric, color, and finish options.

Acoustics First Art Diffuser Trim Wooden Diffusers

Acoustics First Sound Channels Wall Covering Fabric

Acoustics First offers a high-frequency quadratic diffuser in the Art Diffusor, types A and B, that can be used in a number of ways to alter room acoustics. Available in maple and other woods, this trim can be installed with varied spacing to create slot absorbers for low-frequency control in addition to the high-frequency diffusion. It can be installed with an air gap behind it and can be mounted on top of panels. The Sound Channelsacoustical wall fabric can be applied to solid surfaces to dampen sound reflection and aid in speech intelligibility. Resistant to moisture, mildew, rot, and bacteria, the material is non-allergenic and has a fire/smoke retardant Class A rating. The Tone Tile is a white, soft textured acoustical wall panel consisting of a glass fiber core with a paintable face. The tiles reduce echo and reverberation, and they can be used to create custom patterns.

Atlas Sound TSDGPN 1200

Atlas Sound has the GPN1200K sound-masking kit consisting of the TSD-GPN1200 sound-masking generator, the TSD-PS24V250MA power supply, and the TSD-RMK 1 RU rack-mount kit. The small GPN1200 generator provides a source selection of pink or white noise types and its variable balanced output matches the input requirements of Atlas Sound equalizers and amplifiers. It also features a 4W, 70V output for a speaker system and a variable hi-cut filter with an operating range between 1kHz and 8kHz at a slope of 6dB per octave that supports equalization. The unit has a black brushed-aluminum finish and it includes security covers for all rear panel controls. The TSD-PS24V250MA power supply runs to a DC input on the generator and connects with a captive screw fitting. The outputs on the generator are also captive screw and there is a post/pre EQ line out level switch. The front panel includes a level control and power LED indicator.

Auralex Acoustics ProKit-2

To reduce sound reflection and tame highly reverberant rooms, Auralex designed its ProPanel acoustical panels with a fiberglass core and chemically-hardened edges. Class A fire rated per ASTM E-84, the panels are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and fabrics, as well as in ceiling cloud versions. Among the installation hardware from Auralex are standard and corner impaling clips, cloud anchors, and snapon anchors. The recently introduced ProPanel ProKits, ProKit-1 and ProKit-2, are room treatment kits available in fabric choices of Sandstone and Obsidian with beveled or mitered edges, and they include all mounting hardware. They are engineered to control excessive mid- and high-frequency reflections. Add-ons include the B224-C ProPanel Cloud Panels, ProPAD, and SubDude monitor isolation platforms, and the ProGO freestanding absorption panels.

Cambridge Sound Management QtPro System

The patented QtPro system from Cambridge Sound Management is a cost-effective solution to protecting speech privacy and reducing distractions in almost any workplace. QtPro consists of three simple components; emitters (i.e. loudspeakers), control modules, and cables. Qt Emitters are the backbone of the Qt Quiet Technology Sound Masking System. These wide-dispersion, direct-field speakers have 1.25in. drivers, are smaller than a coffee mug, and can be easily installed in any ceiling type. They deliver four uncorrelated audio channels, which provide uniform, unobtrusive sound masking. Qt control modules come in three different sizes depending on the size of the space they cover. For example, a single Qt 600 can connect to up to 720 emitters, covering up to 72,000 square feet of space. Modules are wall or rack mountable, and can be networked and managed over a smartphone, tablet, or PC. A wall-mount bracket comes standard with each controller. When wall mounted, the chassis flips down for easy access to all rear-input connections. There is also a rack mounting kit for the controller modules.

Dynasound Networked System

Dynasound has sound-masking solutions that reduce conversational and noise distraction (the radius of distraction) and protect sensitive (classified) conversations. Dynasound’s flagship offering is its Networked System. It provides independent audio signal selection, volume control, and frequency response to each individual speaker (not clusters) without the need for plenum access or rewiring. DSN operates on industry standard networks and PoE to eliminate costly 120V plenum power drops. External paging and music signals are connected to the network using the DS3008 processor while each DS8000 is an 8-channel receiver and amplifier containing four sound-masking generators and full DSP processing ability. Each speaker can be individually adjusted in volume, channel, and tone using the Dynasound Privacy Manager software. Pioneering the development and application of sound masking since 1975, Dynasound offers solutions for plenums (ceiling/raised floor), open structure, and direct field applications.

GeerFab Acoustics ProZorber

The flagship product of the RoomZorber line, the ProZorber from GeerFab Acoustics is a professional Guilford fabric-wrapped 6-7pcf fiberglass panel with a scrim backer. The ProZorber has a stylish, elegant look for studios, rehearsal, or broadcast environments. ProZorbers are available in both 1in. and 2in. thicknesses, two colors (black and coin) and two sizes (24in.x24in. and 24in.x48in.), with square, hardened edges. The square edges offer more absorption than beveled edges, over 8 percent more for the 1in. and nearly 17 percent more for the 2in. Impaling clips for permanent and semi-permanent installation are included with each kit. The ProZorber is Class A fire-rated and is made in the United States. Noise reduction coefficients are NRC 1.05 for 2in. and NRC .80 for 1in. Optional offset impaling clips provide a 2in. air gap for enhanced bass absorption. The price on the 1in. is $109.95 for one 24in.x48in. panel or two 24in.x24in. panels. For the 2in. size, it’s $139.95 for one 24in.x48in. panel or two 24in.x24in. panels. The RoomZorber is distributed by Hal Leonard Corp.

Lencore Spectra i.Net

The large-scale office audio solution from Lencore is the Spectra i.Net system with sound masking, paging, audio, and mass notification capability on a network infrastructure. For central system control, there is a graphical user interface along with remote and infrared controllability. With all of its features, the Spectra i.Net is best at handling buildings from 20,000 square feet up to multiple facilities and campus-wide installations. Mass notification and emergency communication are easy to add as options. It is built on an open platform architecture and is readily controlled and operated with third-party-control solutions such as Crestron, AMX, and others. The heart of the system is the Operating Platform (OP) with independent equalizers, an integrated LCD screen, diagnostics, and IR sensor. Remote Web access can be used through the Spectra i.Net Configurator to use system settings, information, and reporting. A wide range of input devices can be used including microphones and telephones. There are plenty of hardware options and accessories to customize each installation.

LogiSon Acoustic Network

Introduced in 2003 by KR Moeller Associates, the LogiSon Acoustic Network provides settings and zoning for a single loudspeaker, a group of loudspeakers, or an entire campus while it is managed using computer software. The system is centered on the Network Control Panel (NCP-2), which can be wall-mounted within a room or closet, and allows the user to establish timer, paging, and keypad zones. The Acoustic Network Manager software links to the NCP-2 on Ethernet or wireless link and sends commands to one, a group, or all primary hubs. The programmable keypad installs in a single-gang wall box and provides occupant control over sound masking and paging settings in up to 58 keypad zones. Any combination of auxiliary, telephone, and microphone inputs can be used and paging zones can be set up with the Page Director Software. The Relay Output Module is used to connect the network control panel to up to two external devices, such as warning lights, sirens and/or a security system.

Primacoustics Paintables

Made from 1.5in.-thick, high-density 6lb. glass wool, Primacoustic Paintablesdeliver exceptionally linear absorption across the audio spectrum and are particularly effective in the voice range. Each cloud features a micromesh coating and resin-hardened edges that together encapsulate the panel. Each panel is painted in Absolute White latex and is ready for mounting. The clouds are suspended from the ceiling using the supplied Slipknot hook and wire rope and steel corkscrew panel mounts. The Slipknot allows the installer to quickly adjust the height using an easy release mechanism and readjust without having to disassemble or untie wires. One merely needs to add the eye-screws for hanging. As with all Primacoustic panels, Paintables are fire-tested in an independent laboratory to meet the most stringent Class-A requirements, making them safe for use in all types of installations. Available since June, the circular Cirrus, Hexus hexagon, and square Altos Paintables come in a choice of 36in. and 48in. diameters, while the 2in.- thick rectangular Nimbus are available in a 24in.x48in. size. These come complete with hanging hardware.

ProSoCoustic Wave Panel

ProSoCoustic Evolution Panel

Among the acoustic treatment solutions offered by ProSoCoustic is the eco-friendly Wave Series of acoustic panels constructed primarily from recycled materials. These enhance secondary sound absorption by diffusing the reflection from the rear of the panel so that the acoustic energy travels at an angular direction through the acoustic material. Glue-free construction means that the panels will not require an extensive airing-out period to dissipate any new glue aroma. The panels are available in 13 Diamond Weave and 14 MicroSuede color options. The diffusor shape is pressed directly into the wood, resulting in extreme durability and high resistance to warping. Also available from ProSoCoustic are the aluminum-framed Evolution Series panels with replaceable internal paneling and acoustical absorption material along with anchor points and their ASTM e84 Class A fire rating.

Soft dB SmartSMS-Net

The SmartSMS-Net sound-masking system from Soft dB uses an automatic equalization process, real-time adaptive adjustment of the masking sound level, and network connectivity to custom tailor the system’s performance to match its environment. The control of the masking level is based on the level of the noise in the room, which is measured using sound level sensors installed in the ceiling. Adjustment rate, high limit, and low limit are programmable separately for each zone and an input mixer allows for the combination of any active input with any output channel. The components that make up the system are the SMS-NET Master, the speakers, adaptive sensors, and the SMS-NET rack-mount unit. The system also features a graphic control interface, handheld control, paging and music, individual speaker control, a monitoring system, gradual ramp-up, calendar adjustment, and LEED design. Most North American business for Soft dB is handled by Speech Privacy Systems in Plano, Texas.

More Online

Acoustical Solutions

Acoustical Surfaces

Acoustics First

Atlas Sound

Auralex Acoustics

Cambridge Sound Management


GeerFab Acoustics


K.R. Moeller Associates



Soft dB

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