The word "mask" means to cover, disguise or conceal something. There is typically no modification of the entity being masked – it is simply hidden. Just as camouflage clothing can mask a soldier and air fresheners can mask an odor, sound can mask other sounds as well. In any case, the objective is to hide something that exists, not to eliminate it. Noise cancellation has been occasionally and incorrectly defined as a form of sound masking. In noise cancellation, the unwanted sound is actually eliminated by the generation of sine waves that are out-of-phase with the content that requires cancellation. This technique is typically most effective within spatially constrained areas, such as headphones or vehicle interiors, and is not applicable to entire rooms or larger spaces.

In certain environments like office spaces, conversations can be a distraction. Other, more privacy-sensitive settings such as medical facilities or court rooms may require conversations to be masked for the purpose of confidentiality. This is accomplished by the introduction of background-level sound created with special digital generators and distributed by speakers throughout a given area. That level, and the sound spectrum itself, must be specifically shaped relative to the degree of masking desired by the user. For every situation there is an optimum background sound level. In the home that sound level is low, and at sporting events that level is high. The function of sound masking is to bring the background level up to an optimal threshold without becoming a distraction itself. Determining that optimum requires a great deal of expertise and specialized equipment.

At JJ Orion, we deploy sound masking systems in office spaces, medical facilities and financial institutions. Sound masking technology enhances both privacy and productivity. Our systems are among the most efficient and easiest to use – once they are configured they require minimal to no further user interactions. Some systems use tiny direct field emitters instead of bulky speakers and others can integrate with paging or background music distribution equipment. With expert design and installation services, you can gain control of what you do or do not hear in your particular space.

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