What is white noise and is it really the best solution for productivity and focus in the workspace?
The popularity of white noise has soared, becoming a go-to solution for relaxation, focus, and sleep. While popular for sleep, white noise machines for the home office or individual workplace solution can become somewhat of a distraction. White noise as an effective workplace solution is often just misunderstood.
Within this article we will provide context on the unique differences between white noise and sound masking systems, the pros and cons of white noise, green noise, and the best sound masking solution for individual work spaces – at home and in offices and commercial buildings.
White noise, technically, is equal energy at all frequencies. But that doesn’t mean anything to most people. In laymen’s terms, white noise can be compared to the sound of static on a television or radio that is not tuned to a station. It has a consistent and uniform sound quality that can be described as hissing, rushing, or a constant hum.
It’s important to note, white noise machines and sound masking can be related concepts but are not the same. Sound masking involves playing a soft and steady blend of sounds, such as white noise, pink noise, or nature sounds, to mask the external noise. The best sound masking solutions are ones you don’t even recognize as being “on.”
Sound masking has gained popularity due to its ability to improve privacy, reduce distractions, and enhance overall comfort in numerous environments. It has become a sought-after solution in open-plan office spaces, healthcare facilities, and top security settings, like the White House, where speech privacy and noise control are critical factors. Sound masking is most effective in places where it’s not possible to eliminate all the external noise, but where creating a more pleasant and less distracting sound environment can be beneficial. The intention is to create a comfortable and productive workspace. Period.
Unlike white noise, which contains equal intensity at all frequencies, sound masking focuses on creating a more pleasant sound environment by generating a spectrum of sound that resembles the frequency response of human speech. This helps to mask or cover up speech and other distracting sounds, making conversations and activities in the environment more private and less disruptive.
While both white noise and sound masking share some similarities, sound masking will create a more comfortable and productive environment by reducing distractions and enhancing privacy.
Let’s face it, we don’t like it when it is too quiet. We Google “noise management” (or something to that effect) and the results are “white noise machines” or some sort of sound-scaping device. The fact is we want a little noise in order to concentrate because it is hard to be deep in thought in complete silence – everything becomes a distraction.
The popularity of sound masking has grown as individuals and organizations recognized the benefits it has offered. By reducing distractions and enhancing privacy, sound masking systems contribute to increased productivity, improved concentration, and decreased stress levels in workplaces.
Like any solution, white noise has both pros and cons, and its effects can vary depending on the individual and the specific context. Below are some commonly stated pros and cons of white noise:
- Enhanced Focus: In certain situations, white noise can aid concentration by creating a consistent ambient sound that masks distractions and improves focus.
- Stress Reduction: The steady, predictable sound of white noise can have a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety in some individuals.
- Privacy: White noise can help maintain privacy by masking conversations and other sounds, making it harder for others to eavesdrop.
- Discomfort: White noise sounds like static and can become irritating over time. There are better solutions available which are much more comfortable.
- Potential Overstimulation: Excessive or overly loud white noise can be overstimulating, leading to heightened stress, irritability, or difficulty in relaxing.
White noise can be beneficial in several practical scenarios. Here are some reasonable use cases for white noise:
- Privacy Enhancement: In situations where maintaining privacy is important, such as in shared office spaces or meeting rooms, white noise can help mask conversations and ensure sensitive information remains confidential.
- Short Bursts of Productivity. White noise can be beneficial in individual or small work spaces for short periods of time. However, due to the “raspy-ness” of the sound, it can weigh on you over time and you will want to turn it off.
It’s important to consider the appropriateness of white noise in different contexts. Ultimately, white noise actively cancels human speech frequencies because the volume level is meant to be set higher than indirect speech levels (learn more here.) Sound masking, on the other hand, adds a less distracting background and still effectively masks it. Both techniques can be useful in different situations, depending on the level and type of noise you’re dealing with and your preferences for how to manage it.
Lencore takes sound masking to another level. We engineered a branded solution we refer to as Green Sound™. To be perfectly clear, there is no technically defined “green sound” like there is white, pink or brown noise. However, Green Sound is a unique blend of white and pink noise that is comfortable while effectively masking speech and providing a productive environment. Green Sound is designed to be random, like nature – everything in nature is random, which is why it can be so peaceful. Green Sound takes you from the library where you hear every tap of a pen, stroke of a keyboard or whisper of a conversation which distracts you, and puts you at the beach where you can relax and focus with only the gentle roll of the waves as your background.
Pros of Green Sound:
- Mimics Nature: Randomness is relaxing and non-distracting.
- Frequencies and Octaves: Not to get technical but Green Sound covers human speech frequencies and provides the “bass tones” which adds comfort.
Cons of Green Sound:
- Unique. Green Sound is Lencore branded sound and does not have the general popularity as the terms white noise and pink noise.
In summary, individual work spaces, whether at home or in the office, should be comfortable and productive. It is why thousands of individuals, like yourself, spend hard earned dollars with white noise offerings only to find they are ineffective. Why? Typically because it is so uncomfortable to listen to! You end up just turning it off.
On the other hand, Green Sound, by Lencore, whether at home, in the office or within a commercial facility, is designed to be comfortable while effectively covering up indirect speech. Green Sound is purposefully engineered to blend the right amount of white noise to block speech and pink noise to make it comfortable to listen to all day.
There are many more reasons Green Sound is more effective than a white noise solution and we will be delving into this topic in greater detail on our next blog. Stay tuned as we delve into what makes up Green Noise and why it’s the best solution for the future.
Check Out Our Other Sound Masking Blogs
What is Soundscaping? Leveraging Healthcare Soundscape for Healing and Wellness Environments As pioneers in sound masking, Lencore understands the importance of reshaping healthcare environments to prioritize well-being. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the transformative concept
White Noise Effects on Patient Sleep in Hospitals In the world of healthcare, ensuring patients’ comfort and well-being is of paramount importance. Hospitals strive to provide the best care, including facilitating an environment conducive to rest and
Preventing Incidental Disclosure & HIPAA Violations with Sound Masking In the healthcare industry, protecting patient privacy and preventing accidental disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) are paramount concerns. Maintaining a secure environment where conversations remain confidential is