Many offices provide poor acoustics. A common complaint is that conversations are too easily overheard, and there always seems to be too much noise. Poor privacy and noisy conditions can be controlled with good design and today’s technology. Ostergaard Acoustical Associates works with architects and office users to help achieve appropriate office acoustical goals through design and technical assistance.
Office environments can be designed to provide confidential, normal, or minimal acoustical privacy. Under confidential conditions, it is not possible to understand what is being said in an adjacent office. With normal privacy, concentrated effort is needed to understand conversations from adjacent areas. Minimal privacy provides some control of distracting noise, but conversations are easily understood between adjacent areas. Ostergaard Acoustical Associates assists in establishing acoustical criteria for offices based on user information, experience, and acoustical tests made in current offices or mock-up areas. Privacy requirements are generally determined after discussing with the client trade-offs about privacy needs vs. the project budget.
Achieving sufficient speech privacy is critical to user productivity and acceptance of an office installation. Speech privacy depends on the sound absorption provided by the ceiling or exposed structure, furniture, and floor/wall finishes; the degree of background sound provided by an electronic masking sound system and/or the HVAC system; and the speech effort of the talker. For speech privacy between two closed offices, or from an open office area to a closed office, the degree of sound isolation provided by separating constructions also has a significant effect on speech privacy. Acoustical product specifications and careful design are needed to ensure an acoustically successful outcome.

Electronically-generated masking sound is required in quality open offices to increase speech privacy and reduce the audibility of other intruding office sounds. In certain applications, masking sound in closed spaces can also be beneficial. To be effective, a masking sound system must be engineered to complement the acoustical environment. It must have uniform coverage, and should comprise components that facilitate tuning to the appropriate level and frequency spectrum. Ostergaard Acoustical Associates designs and tunes custom masking sound systems that achieve their acoustical effect with minimal awareness by office personnel.


  • Parette Somjen Architects, Denville, New Jersey
  • Abbott Point of Care, Princeton, New Jersey
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Danbury, Connecticut
  • Somerville Library, Somerville, New Jersey
  • Insmed, Bridgewater, New Jersey
  • Audible, Newark, New Jersey
  • NYU Winthrop Hospital, Mineola, New York
  • Selective Insurance, Branchville, New Jersey
  • Prudential Insurance, Newark, New Jersey
  • Coastal ENT, Neptune, New Jersey