Apart from dealing with the neighbors, is there anything that can be done to
combat the low base from stereos. Do noise reducing batts have any effect? I
think having your own music playing quietly may help.
Speaking as both a bass player and former recording studio
owner/builder, no. Bass is usually structurally-borne noise. Bass
frequencies carry ~10x the energy of midrange frequencies and aren't
treatable by things like acoustic insulation except in deep, specially
designed bass traps.
I used to have a loft two floors under a NYC after-hours club so I've
got a bit of experience with your problem. The owner was cooperative
(he had no choice -- his club was illegal). I fixed the problem by
building a plywood platform with vibration isolators as feet. He had
mammoth speakers sitting on the floor so your situation is a lot
easier, possibly as easy as just getting him to move the speakers off
If that doesn't work, you can pick up vibration isolation mats from a
vibration control supplier like http://www.novibes.com /. Weigh the
speaker first and buy the appropriate PSI mat.
In general you want to block air exchange. Air caries sound very well.
(Try opening your car's window as a train is going by.)
Next you want weight. Heavy things (drywall lead sheets etc.) block
You also want to prevent any direct solid connections. Stagger wall
studs or use special isolation devices to keep the sound from traveling
through the wall (remember the two cans on a string (well wire actuarially
worked) you want to break the wire).
Filling in wall cavities with sound absorbing materials (accustical
fiberglass bats) will do a little.
Point source control (special absorption material) at the source of the
sound will also help.
Nevertheless, what's almost certainly happening is that the bass is
coupling with the building's structure and making it resonate like a
big passive speaker.
There are two main ways to deal with bass noise. One is with mass,
like a concrete wall. Some recording studios even line control room
walls with lead sheets made for X-ray rooms because it's more weight
for the bass energy to have to move. The other is by decoupling the
source from the structure, essentially making the bass have to move
through the air, which is a great shock aborber (Michael Rettinger's
"perfect sound absorber" is an open window). Studios also use this
approach by floating control rooms and using all sorts of trick
hardware, like vibration-isolating water pipe connectors, to contain
the energy. But you can accomplish some of that by simply floating
The only thing I can think which might help on your end is to replace
your windows with sound-absorbing units, which is incredibly
expensive. These work in part by using a glass thickness which isn't
an even multiple of common window glass, which therefore attentuates
harmonic resonance from your neighbor's vibrating windows. Again, a
recording studio trick.
Cheapest solution - Contact you local police department and ask what the
noise regulations are. If the neighbors are violating the ordinance, call
the cops (non 911 number), and ask them to come out. The neighbors won't
know who called (unless they have a friend at the police department).
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