Office privacy pods, soundproof partitions, and other open-plan noise solutions often have NIC and STC ratings. And booths, specifically, are now being rated against ISO 23351-1:2020 — a new standard. What do these ratings mean? We’ve recapped office acoustics 101 to make sense of all three.

Office acoustics – key takeaways:

  • Sound is energy. It’s the vibration generated as an acoustic wave moves through a medium. What we hear as sound is physical pressure on the ears, measured in decibels (dB). The sound’s pitch, or tone, is measured in frequency (Hz).

  • The decibel scale is logarithmic, not linear. On a logarithmic scale, the power of a given sound is doubled for every 3dB increase in level. So 70dB is actually about 100 times as powerful as 50dB.

  • When sound hits a surface, 1 of 3 things happens: the sound is reflected, absorbed, and/or transmitted. Solid, hard surfaces reflect a lot of sound while porous, soft surfaces absorb a lot of sound.

  • The best way to soundproof is by using layers. High-quality materials, carefully layered, are ideal. This is why all acoustic office booths and pods in the Hushoffice catalog are built with several layers of premium materials.

  • Sound Transmission Class (STC) is a score indicating how much sound is stopped by a partition. The higher the STC score, the better. Noise Insulation Class (NIC) is a field measurement of the total sound insulation performance between two rooms (not just the partition). ISO 23351-1:2020 is a new standard specific to enclosing furniture like booths and pods. It measures how well the product reduces user speech level.

  • Pods rated class A+, A, and B guarantee the best speech privacy. B-class acoustic pods will generally be more economical and lighter than A-class pods. So they’ll cost less and be easier to move around the office.

The basics of office acoustics

What is sound? How is it measured?

What is sound?

When we talk about sound or office acoustics we are talking about energy

– explains Robert Korpacki, Product Manager, Hushoffice.

Sound is energy. It’s the vibration that’s generated as an acoustic wave moves through a medium. Oftentimes, this medium is air. But it can be anything — water, glass, steel, concre