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Telemarketing Cubicles: Understanding Acoustics

Controlling noise levels in your telemarketing cubicles presents significant challenges. When employees are exposed to excessive noise, they can’t concentrate. If they are on the phone, they may have to struggle to hear the person on the other end of the line. Even worse, the customer may hear the buzz of multiple conversations in the background. This gives a poor impression of the professional atmosphere of your company.

How do you control the sound in your office space? This is actually a complex processes that involves the acoustical performance of every surface including walls, flooring, ceiling, and furnishings. The way your telemarketing cubicles are arranged also impacts overall noise levels. An acoustical designer can help you determine the best materials and layout for maximum noise reduction.

NRC Rating

There are two types of noise control ratings commonly used in the office furnishing industry. The Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) measures how much sound a particular material can absorb in mid-range frequencies. This is measured from least effective (0) to most effective (1). A panel with an NRC rating of .2 would be slightly sound reducing. One with an NRC rating of .7 would be fairly efficient.

One common complaint about advertised rating specs is that they are based on lab results. The actual effectiveness of a panel in real life conditions may be much lower. It’s a good idea to contact the cubicle manufacturer if you have questions about how they calculated their NRC rating.

STC Rating

The Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of a product reveals its ability to block sound transmission. It is measured in increments from 35-60. The higher the number, the more sound a panel can block. In practice, structure has a lot to do with STC. For example, taller telemarketing cubicles can block more sound than ones with low dividing walls. Cubes that don’t have gaps where the panels connect will also transmit less sound.

How These Ratings Interact

A high NRC works by reducing noise within a space. In other words, a person would experience less sound reverberating off the walls of his/her own cube because the panels absorb it. A high STC works by reducing the transfer of noise into an adjoining space. In other words, the person in the next cube would experience less sound leaking through from “next door” because it is blocked.

Unfortunately, these two ratings are mutually exclusive. Either you can have acoustic panels that absorb sound, or wall systems that block it. Deciding which option is best for your space is, again, best achieved with the help of a professional acoustics consultant. Otherwise, you may end up paying top dollar for telemarketing cubicles that do exactly the opposite of what you intended.


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