Calgary Parking Authority

Project Profile: Sound Masking

The Calgary Parking Authority’s Impound Lot is also home to a customer and back office support centre.  The sound from a critical area of the office, one designed for public-facing transactions like payments for towing and parking, was negatively impacting back office workers.

Photo of Calgary Parking Authority - Vibra Sonic Control Sound Masking project

Project Details

Location:Calgary, Alberta
Project:Conversations originating at the towing/payment counter are being heard in the open concept work space as well as in private offices. Four challenges demanded a customized solution.
Challenge:Large open concept area with high ceilings and no partitions between work spaces.
Solution:With typical ceilings, speakers are installed so that they emit upwards and reflect off the structural ceiling which creates a soft more evenly distributed sound. With the high ceiling on we encountered on this project, our approach was to turn the sound-masking speakers upside down so that they emitted straight down into the space. This gave us the control of the sound we required so that we could achieve a homogeneous and correct spectrum, effectively adding speech privacy into the area. Further, the fields of sound from each speaker blend, remaining soft and dispersed, due to the height at which the speakers were mounted.
Challenge: Different sound masking level requirement; large open area vs. small closed offices.
Solution: Through the design and tuning process, these areas were given individual tuning spectrums that were set to unique levels addressing the masking requirement of those specific "open vs. closed" spaces. The open areas were tuned to a dBA level of 45 and the closed offices were tuned to a 42.5 dBA level. The sound masking system volume was optimized over a number of weeks so that the occupants gradually got used to the sound at the optimal level.
Challenge:Installing the solution without disrupting employees as office space is occupied on a regular basis.
Solution:Installation took place after hours to minimize disruption.
Challenge:An employee uses a hearing-aid device.
SolutionModern, digital hearing-aid units are prone to pick-up and amplify sound masking noise making it uncomfortable for an individual wearing the device. The employee was moved to a more comfortable location as far away from active sound masking as well as turning the individual speaker closest to the employee off to further lessen the impact of the sound masking system on this individual.