Author Archives: Matt Nees


What are the facts about NFPA 72 and Emergency Communication Systems?

Although stand-alone sound masking systems are not officially regulated by fire codes, it’s still a good idea to be familiar with the difference in code requirements addressing these two types of systems.


1. What does NFPA 72 have to say about Sound Masking?

There is no requirement under National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) document 72 Chapter 24 for standalone sound masking systems.  NFPA 72 does regulate Emergency Notification Systems (EMS), and Mass Notification Systems (MNS).  Vendors that supply combined systems are also subject to regulation under UL 2572.


2. Can Sound Masking systems be integrated into Fire Control Panels (FCPs)?

Yes. Sound masking can be integrated into Fire Alarm Systems and Fire Control Panels to be disabled in the event of an emergency.  Cambridge Sound Management works closely with leading FCP manufacturers and security installers.  Both QtPro and DynasoundPro solutions provide methods to disable masking via simple integration with virtually all third party life safety systems on the market, including fire alarm panels, which are the dominant means of life safety.


3. Are Sound Masking systems intended to be life safety mass notification systems, or emergency communications systems?

No. It’s important to understand the distinction between these two very different types of audio systems.  Manufacturers of standalone sound masking systems are not encumbered by UL2572 component listing as they are not part of the life safety system. There is no requirement under National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) document 72 Chapter 24 for standalone sound masking systems.


Want to know more? 

We did, so we asked a former chairman of the NFPA 72 technical committee and editor of 5 editions of the National Fire Alarm Handbook to help demystify this complex topic. In Addressing Sound Masking Requirements in the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code® and UL StandardsWayne Moore from Jensen Hughes provides an unbiased view of the necessary sound masking code requirements.

With Cambridge Sound Management as your partner, you will only receive the truthful facts necessary to “know the code”.


NFPA 72 Fact and Fiction

Recently one of our competitors, Lencore, has been circulating misleading information that sound masking systems need to meet UL 2572 certification, a certification they have recently received for their mass notification system (MNS).

In order to boost sales for both their sound masking and MNS, they are trying to suggest that sound masking and mass notification standards are somehow connected. They are not.

Here are the facts:

Lencore claim: Sound masking systems installed in mid- to large-sized projects where NFPA 72 is enforced must be UL Certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

Fact check: False. Sound masking systems are not required to be Listed (UL does not “certify”) to UL 2572 unless the entire emergency communication system (that may include sound masking and is therefore described as a combination control) is to be used for a mass notification system.

Lencore claim: The reasoning behind this requirement is sound masking systems impede on the annunciation of emergency communications systems.

Fact check: False. As we know the decibel level of sound masking is not loud enough to interfere with mass notification broadcasts. Even if it were, QtPro and DynasoundPro sound masking systems have a contact closure that shuts the sound masking down in the event of an emergency.

Lencore claim: UL 2572 and ULC-S576 are the US and Canadian testing standards, respectively, for approved equipment performance in mass notification systems.

Fact check: Deliberately misleading. Neither of these standards require a sound masking system to be UL Listed. UL 2572 is required for mass notification systems, not for sound masking systems.

Lencore claim: In order to certify that a system can perform the sound masking shutdown sequence requirement, the system control panel interfacing with the Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) must pass UL 2572 and/or ULC-S576.

Fact check: False. When interfaced with any communication system that uses sound masking, NFPA 72 allows for multiple methods for the fire alarm system to shut down the sound masking component (only if it would interfere with communications). Once again, UL 2572 is required for mass notification systems, not for sound masking systems.

Lencore is going to great lengths to claim any sound masking system is necessarily a combination system of the emergency notification system. Don’t believe it. It is categorically false and only applies to Lencore’s own MNS!

Learn more by downloading our NFPA 72 / UL 2572 Fact Sheet and call us at 800-219-8199 if you have any further questions.


– Rob Claus

VP of Sales

Solving the Patient Privacy Epidemic

Patient privacy complaints to healthcare providers and pharmacies are on the rise according to a recent ProPublica article. The data suggests that patient privacy has always been a problem and that complaints have risen mainly due to the introduction of an online complaint portal that now makes it easier for patients to file HIPAA complaints (see graph). HIPAA Complaints on the RiseHIPAA, or, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates how a healthcare provider is able to collect, store and use patients’ personal health information and requires providers to implement safeguards to protect patient privacy.

Many healthcare providers have taken safeguards to ensure that patient privacy is protected, such as encrypting data and having employees take mandatory privacy training, but the article suggests that it’s not enough. One reason for this might be the fact that healthcare providers rarely take steps to protect one of the most commonly experienced violations of patient privacy – medical information transmitted via speech and overheard by unintended listeners. In short, healthcare providers suffer from a speech privacy epidemic.

In most in most waiting rooms, reception areas, and pharmacy counters, speech privacy is virtually nonexistent. Patients often overhear conversations between office personnel and other patients. The article recalls one patient privacy complaint a major drugstore chain encountered where a patient was “upset because a pharmacist had yelled personal information across the counter.” These situations are hardly rare – anyone who has been in a doctor’s office waiting room or a pharmacy line can attest to the fact that conversations between staff and caregivers are rarely private and easily overheard. In addition to being a HIPAA violation, a lack of patient speech privacy fosters a negative patient experience where they feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, and potentially less likely to share medical concerns.

HIPAA complaints are fielded by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). As part of their investigation, ProPublica requested dozens of letters sent by the office to health providers detailing the allegations and how they were resolved. Not providing sufficient speech privacy was a common refrain:

common complaints included giving drugs to the wrong patients, speaking too loudly when discussing health information in front of customers, and faxing medical information to the wrong places (including to random strangers).(Emphasis added)

Many pharmacies make the list of companies with multiple HIPAA complaints, as do large healthcare providers. Providers try to take HIPAA violations seriously as violators can be subject to government fines as well as litigation from angry customers.

So how can healthcare providers protect speech privacy at their locations and therefore reduce HIPAA violations and create a more comfortable patient experience? One solution is to install a sound masking solution in the area where medical information is most likely to be overheard. Cambridge Sound Management’s Qt Patient Privacy System provides a unique sound masking solution specifically for medical office and pharmacy environments.

The new Qt Patient Privacy System

The new Qt Patient Privacy System

The Qt Patient Privacy System consists of a control module, two lighted privacy signs, and a series of direct-field sound masking emitters. The intuitive control module can be installed in a reception desk, behind a pharmacy counter, or mounted to a wall. Once turned on, the emitters installed in the ceiling add a low level of background sound into the space that covers up human speech and makes conversations less intelligible. Lighted privacy signs turn on to indicate the system is running, and let patients know that what they’re saying is being protected.

Patient privacy will never be possible with 100% certainty but the Qt Patient Privacy System provides healthcare providers with a useful tool for increasing customer satisfaction and reducing HIPAA violations in places where medical information is discussed.



Top Ten Customer Quotes for Cambridge Sound Management in 2015

top ten customer quotes for Cambridge Sound Management 2015

2015 was another great year for making workplaces more comfortable. Below, in no particular order, please find the top ten customer testimonials and customer quotes for Cambridge Sound Management from the past year.


You can read the full customer stories here. We’re excited to make more workplaces more private and productive in 2016!


“We installed the QtPro in an inpatient area, along with other noise-reducing measures. We’ve experienced positive results from the measures taken.”

– Wes Pooler, Director of Facilities Management, University of Vermont Medical Center


“We love QtPro – once you have sound masking installed in your office, you wonder how you ever lived without it. “

– Robert Hunt, Facility Manager, Benco Dental


“QtPro gives us greater reduction of noise and distractions and allows our staff to be more productive and feel more private. QtPro even meshed aesthetically with our multi-style tile ceiling design. Employees don’t even recognize or notice the emitters directly above them.“

– Dave Herrell, Director of IT, Highwinds


“QtPro provided the speech privacy we were lacking and it’s unobtrusive enough that we don’t really notice it. We’re pleased with the system.

– Wayne Linder, Chair of the Sound Technology and Media Committee, Mountain View Baptist Church


“Since QtPro has been installed we’ve noticed the reduction in typical office noise distractions and our meetings are less disruptive to people who are trying to concentrate on individual work. We love the product and wonder how we ever worked without it.”

– Santo A. Dettore III, Assistant Real Estate Manager, Hobbs Brook Management


“Since QtPro has been installed we’ve noticed the reduction in typical office noise distractions. Employees love the comfortable work environment but don’t even notice the sound masking sound. It’s a perfect addition to our new, modern office space.”

– Kevin Page, IT Finance Manager, Surgical Care Affiliates


“Sound masking has helped our office. I find that I’m less aware of noise and conversations happening in the ‘bullpen’ when I’m in with patients, and that they are too. Even talking to colleagues feels more private.”

– Medical Director of a primary care practice at a prestigious Boston-area hospital (name withheld at hospital’s request)


“Sound masking from Cambridge Sound Management met our office’s needs perfectly. It keeps the noise level down between the cubicle areas and also helps prevent speech noise from permeating through private office and conference room walls. It really works.”

– Dan Kloha, CPA, Partner, 415 Group


“Prior to installing the sound masking system, there were many complaints about employees being distracted by other people’s conversations. Now that we have QtPro we’re experiencing far fewer noise distractions and disruptions.”

– Kristin Durik, Vice President, Operations, Advantage+


“As a technology integrator, we knew how powerful QtPro could be for protecting speech privacy and reducing noise distractions in open office environments, but until we installed it in our own office we never fully appreciated how much more productive it can make workplaces.”

– Richard Durante, Sr., President, Tie National, LLC


Like the quotes above? This flyer puts them in an easy to digest and share format.