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Masking

A phenomenon whereby one or more sound "trick" the ear into not hearing other, weaker, sound that are also present.

Sound masking is the addition of natural or artificial sound (commonly, though inaccurately, referred to as "white noise" or "pink noise") into an environment to cover-up unwanted sound by using auditory masking. This is in contrast to the technique of active noise control. Sound masking reduces or eliminates awareness of pre-existing sounds in a given area and can make a work environment more comfortable, while creating speech privacy so workers can better concentrate and be more productive. Sound masking can also be used in the out-of-doors to restore a more natural ambient environment.

Sound masking can be explained by analogy with light. Imagine a dark room where someone is turning a flashlight on and off. The light is very obvious and distracting. Now imagine that the room lights are turned on. The flashlight is still being turned on and off, but is no longer noticeable because it has been "masked". Sound masking is a similar process of covering a distracting sound with a more soothing or less intrusive sound.

Key Terms

addition
artificial sound
auditory masking
contrast
cover unwanted sound
environment
flashlight
pink noise
sound masking
white noise

Additional Resources

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Acronymn

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Synonymns

Masking
Sound masking

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Sources & Credits

Last modified on June 27 2019
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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