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Masking Noise Systems in Open and Closed Spaces

Signal to noise ratios (S/N) when close to zero determine speech intelligibility and hence the degree of acoustical privacy between a speaker and a listener. Though S/N is usually used to establish the efficiency of communication systems it is equally useful in quantifying desired privacy. Factors effecting the signal are voice effort, separating by distance, partial or full enclosure, and sound absorption. Factors effecting noise are traffic noise, air conditioning, and internal activity. The former are controllable, the latter are not. There is, therefore, a need in many instances to electronically generate noise to assure privacy at times when the other noise makers do not provide an adequately low S/N. This paper discusses the design and application of such systems.

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