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While employees at Hogen Adams, a Minnesota law office specializing in Native American law, have private offices, conversations could often be heard through the walls. This problem was particularly acute in the company conference room at the end of the hallway. As a result, partner meetings or meetings where confidential information was discussed had to be held offsite, leading to coordination nightmares and increased travel expenses.

Vanya Hogen, a partner and co-founder at the firm, began looking for a solution. “We had this nice conference room that we couldn’t even use due to the confidentiality issues - one day I just decided that enough was enough,” Hogen said. Insulation was added to the walls of the conference room, but speech continued to escape through the door. Hogen began to search online for a technological solution to the problem.

SOLUTION Searches for office white noise machines led Hogen to Cambridge sound masking solutions from Biamp. More sophisticated than white noise, sound masking emits a gentle, airflow-like sound into an environment through speakers installed in the ceiling. The noise is barely noticeable but is specifically engineered to cover up the sound of human speech, making it less intelligible. Biamp performed an onsite demo at Hogen Adams with a certified masking partner in their area. Impressed with the results, the firm agreed to have sound masking installed in their office space. Small, barely visible emitters (loudspeakers) were placed in the ceiling tiles throughout the space, which were connected by cables to an intuitive wall mounted control module.

CONCLUSION

Employees don’t notice the masking sound, but they do notice that the law office is noticeably more acoustically comfortable, less distracting, and more private. “Since installing sound masking, meetings in our conference room can’t be overheard elsewhere in our office space, and neither can conversations in adjacent offices,” Hogen said. “I wish I had known about sound masking earlier!”