The Sound Masking Blog

Franken Spec

Franken SpecAs I walked door to door with my kids on Halloween night, admiring the creativity of many costumes, I spotted one that strangely made me think of work: Frankenstein.

In a paragraph or two, this will make sense...

We're frequently asked to review and comment on specifications written for sound masking systems. Some of these documents are proprietary, don't include any performance standards or – even worse – are inconsistent to the point that no system could ever hope to meet the requirements outlined. This last variety is the type I've taken to calling 'Frankenspec.'

Just like Mary Shelley’s monster, this type of specification has been brought to life by cobbling together various bits and pieces of many creatures. Understandable, since a lot of people don't have good working knowledge of the key performance characteristics of masking systems or the fundamental differences between system architectures. That’s also how you get a spec that simply calls for “a sound masking system.”

Last week one of these monstrosities hit my desk. The document began by calling for a centralized sound masking system. However, the description and some of the performance requirements were clearly borrowed from the proprietary spec for a particular brand of networked system. The products and manufacturer section were from a spec for a centralized system using downward-facing loudspeakers. The document then concluded with a mixture of installation, testing and reporting requirements taken from the three systems.

No one could ever meet this specification. So, if its terms were upheld (as the terms of a spec should be), every bidder would have to be rejected. Either that or the client would need to rewrite the spec in order to have any vendor comply with its terms. But what's far more likely is that the spec will simply be ignored.

I don’t know who wrote this spec and I’m going to protect the names of the innocent (the client) for whom it was written. However, I see too many of these not to mention the problem and propose a solution.

We all have to earn business in a competitive environment and we've seen the difficulty that a lot of people have when tasked with writing a specification that can be used to hold varying sound masking system types to a common level of performance. So, we've written a performance-based sound masking specification that can be used with confidence to ensure that multiple vendors can bid and that the one selected meets the necessary performance levels.

You can review the principles behind this document and download it here. We're happy to answer any questions as well.



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