Sound Masking Technology Makes Noise in MDUs

Sound Masking Technology Makes Noise in MDUs

Apartment complexes and condos can be loud places without some kind of noise control.

While architectural noise control is ideal, it’s not always possible in multidwelling units (MDUs). Sound-blocking technology used in businesses is being used in MDUs to reduce sound between units and allow apartment dwellers more peace and quiet.

Sound-masking technology can improve residents’ quality of life, keeping conversations and other doings private, preventing outside noises from becoming a nuisance and allowing residents better sleep.

Sound masking is the addition of sound created by special digital generators and (often unseen) speakers to cover up unwanted sounds. Banks and hospitals use this tech to ensure their clients’ and patients’ privacy.

“Think of a multifamily like a call center,” says Tim Boyd, CEO of SAVE Electronics in Sunnyvale, Texas. “Everyone is in their own cubicle or apartment, and you can hear everyone’s conversations, their footsteps and movements. You hear them going down the hall and above your head. Sound masking keeps that noise from resonating across hallways, floors and walls.” 

Sound-blocking tech is normally cheaper than architectural noise control—particularly when used in former industrial buildings renovated as apartments, such as EYA’s Oronoc apartments in Alexandria, Va.

RELATED: EYA’s Oronoco Residences: Tech and the Customer Experience

Sonet Qt by Cambridge Sound takes the sound masking technology from the office and packages it for residential use.
Sonet Qt by Cambridge Sound packages  sound masking technology for residential use.

Quiet Tech for Noisy Spaces

The Sonet Qt from Cambridge Sound is office-style tech packaged for the home. Suitable for spaces between 50 and 500 square feet, the system has a volume control unit and between two and four emitters (speakers). The volume control unit plugs into a standard wall outlet and connects to the emitters using modular telephone cords.

Thin plastic plates can be attached to the wall to hold the emitters in place. While the emitters are out in the open unlike some disguised options, it does allow for flexibility and portability. It’s also easy to install.

The Sonet uses Cambridge Sound’s Qt Quiet Technology. The emitter noises sound more like ocean waves than white noise and work on the same frequency as the human voice to help keep conversations private. Emitters can be mounted on the ceiling as well. The Sonet series costs between $80 and $200 retail.

A diagram of Sono's components shows how works. The device mounts to a window using a suction cup. The large rings act as antennas.
A diagram of Sono’s components shows how it works. The device mounts to a window using a suction cup.

On the Horizon

Another device, Sono, still in the prototype phase, mounts directly on a window and filters outside noise, so instead of hearing traffic from a busy road, you could listen to the birds singing in a nearby tree or the wind rustling through the leaves, which is more pleasant than any digitally generated noise.

Austrian designer Rudolf Stefanich built a working prototype of Sono in 2013 that showed a 12-decibel reduction per device. Once further developed, the device could be applied to all your home’s windows turning them into a comprehensive noise-canceling system. Stay tuned!


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About The Author

Casey Meserve is a TecHome Builder Staff Writer, creating investigative and timely articles for its eMagazine and Special Reports. She graduated from Bridgewater State University with a master’s degree in English in 2011. She began her writing career in 2005 as a reporter for Community Newspaper Company and later GateHouse Media. From 2010 to 2013, she worked as an editor at AOL Patch.

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  1. Pessimist

    Many caveats.

    1. How do you keep this attached for extended periods of time? Suction won’t do it alone.
    2.How do you keep these charged? Assuming you need one on every window…
    3.How will the weather affect it. Facing the sun, these will not last long.
    4.UV rays will turn whatever color these are to some unsightly burn’t yellow tint.
    5. Depending on where it needs to placed on the window could really kill the view…


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