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Subwoofer and apartment: can they get along?  

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Someone recently posted: "I live in an apartment, and therefore I do not have a subwoofer."
I too live in an apartment and am about to buy a sub. Does this mean trouble ahead (with the neighbors)?

The truth is that I currently own two big and very good speakers (on stands about 2 feet from the floor). I use them as "large" and have learnt to maintain the volume within limits that my neighbors can live with. The reason I want to replace them with 2 bookshelf speakers and a sub is mainly for space requirements. I do not intend to use a higher volume than my current one, but I am wondering whether a sub on the floor may reverberate too much (for my neighbors).

Any opinion and advice would be appreciated.
post #2 of 38
Check this site out, it mayhave some advice and products that can help you:
post #3 of 38
I use to live in an apartment and I could hear it when anyone would walk alittle too hard. It was a good apartment complex too but not the best. I think apartments only have the regular 6" walls(I could be wrong)....but then I moved to a townhouse and they had 12" walls between the units so I couldnt hear a thing from the nextdoor neighbors. So I guess if you have 12" walls then you may be good but if they arent you might have a problem. I doubt theres anything you can do to insulate the walls and ceiling cause that would be ugly and cost some...

GL tho
post #4 of 38
I don't think living in an apartment and having a subwoofer are two mutually exclusive things. I currently live in an upstairs corner apartment that I don't believe to be any better constructed or soundproofed than any other and yet I, and more importantly my neighbors, don't have any issue of me using my system.

As you have already done, the most important thing is to talk to your neighbors to see what they feel to be an acceptable level of sound and then to use common sense as to how early or late you can play. Afterwards, if you still think you want soundproofing options, that's your prerogative.

post #5 of 38
I also live in an apt. I recently bought a EV SonicXS 2.1 Hardcore speaker set from CompUSA, which are really meant to be computer speakers but I'm using them as part of my 2.1 system w/ my TV in the living room. It has a loud 6" sub that can really shake and rattle. I live upstairs, too. So I've been pretty nervous about turning up the bass. But my neighbors downstairs are pretty tolerant. Besides, their kids are always crying, slamming doors/closets, and just screaming in general. So I call it payback. :)

Thanks for that site, soundproofing.org. I'll take a look a their apt. tips. :cool:
post #6 of 38
I use a ButtKicker2 instead of a subwoofer.

I had to be a bit creative, though. I got a maplewood 4x8 and got Home Depot to cut it to the size for my sofa's bottom (plus a few inches at the rear for mounting the ButtKicker2 on, without needing to modify the sofa). Then I put the sofa on top of the wood. I put soft neoprene isolator legs at the bottom of the wood. That keeps the vibrations from getting to the floor. I also removed the sofa legs, for better vibration coupling with the wood.
post #7 of 38
I would only add that you might try to steer yourself away from a down-firing sub, as they transfer bass energy into the floor more directly that other configurations. If you are not on the first floor, then a downward firing sub might be trouble. If you ARE on the first floor, then that might be what you want actually, since a front or rear firing (or rear ported) sub will transfer bass energy more directly into the walls first.
post #8 of 38
I eventually had to turn OFF my subwoofer - I can turn up my stereo comfortably loud WITHOUT the subwoofer (my main speakers only go down to about 90Hz), but as soon as I turn the subwoofer on, my neighbors begin pounding on the wall (or on my front door, if I ignore them long enough!). It seems they really cannot hear my stereo but can "feel" the bass (which I'll admit is pretty powerful).
post #9 of 38
I like the idea of soundproofing the floor-- may have to convince the super to let me do that. But I have a new ufw-10, and simply came to an arrangement with my neighbors what times are reasonable to be playing stuff. My downstairs neighbor likes to play stuff at 3 am, and at any volume, that's just not acceptable; but a subwoofer at 10pm may not be acceptable to her, so we needed to work something out.
post #10 of 38
If you get this one and not blast it, you will add luxurius warmth to the sound without having to worry about your neighbors - sony sa-wm200 ($95 shipped from www.etronics.com) If you have bookshelves, you really need a sub to get a full sound. Your ears will thank you.
post #11 of 38
its really a total crapshoot and more dependent on your neighbors attitudes than anything else. in previous places they would complain if i hit my alarm snooze button to many times in the morning. in my current home i can literaly shake the first floor brick walls (three story brownstone, i'm on three) and nobody cares.

i say buy your subs, if you can't use them now you'll be able to later.
post #12 of 38
Here's a funny story. Before that family w/ 2 young children moved in the apt. below me, an elderly couple used to live there. One day, they asked my roommate about stereo noise. He didn't have a stereo, so he knew they were talking about me. Apparently, they claimed the bass from my stereo system (which is in the bedroom - a measly 60 W JVC shelf stereo system) was affecting her husband's heart pacemaker. :rolleyes:

I laughed so hard I was crying when he told me the story. Then I was crying out of fear when he told me that he gave the neighbors our phone numbers so that they can call us if the stereo was too loud. Luckily, I never heard from them again, they eventually moved out, and that family downstairs, which has yet to complain, has moved in. :cool:

So can bass affect someone's heartbeat (pacemaker aided)? It sounds like BS to me. :mad:
post #13 of 38
My first suggestion would be to think about others before thinking about yourself, regardless of whether you decide to get the sub or not. Its hard for me to imagine someone complaining to me, then i continue to do the thing that bothers them anyway. Just knowing i'm being a nuisance to other people would be enough to make me either turn it down, or unhook it. But that's just my personality. Or maybe it was that "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" sunday school lesson from long ago. Who knows...

As for a direct answer, i'd say get the sub, but probably turn it down to a "less than balanced" level that you would normally set it at, say, in a house. That way, you'll still get to hear the LFE effects and other low bass, but (hopefully) not annoy your neighbors in the process.

post #14 of 38
I'm in an apt in NYC and have had powered subs for over ten years. I've played action movies even late at night and never once has any neighbor complained. They might just be cool neighbors... most seem young and probably out late anyway.

I did have a neighbor move into the apt next to me once. He said he could hear the music in the halls but not in his apt. I showed him my home theater setup and he went out and got his own. of course he HAD to play his movies long and late in the evenings. So it turns out "I" was the one who had to deal with noise.. Many late nights I would go to sleep to the shaking of his bass through our shared wall. Kind of made me smirk at myself sometimes since I turned him on to it all... I never complained though.

So i guess another solution: Get your neighbors turned on to subs.. then you can all enjoy.
post #15 of 38
Depending upon the physical structure of the building you live in, sound may or may not be too much of an issue. If the apartments are divded by some form of mortared wall, obviously it will be much less of an issue than if someone simply has two layers of drywall between them.

In the case of the original poster, it seems that this is an up/down situation which will unlikely have anyform of mortar dividing it, simply floor joists, floor board and the flooring itself. This obviously offers very little reducing sound from the top floor to the bottom or vice versa.
post #16 of 38
Ususally, its the bass that goes thru walls, floors, etc... and not so much the mids & highs.

I'm in a condo and the sound isolation is crap. I didn't buy tower speakers because of that reason, the bass on those things would have bothered the neighbours I'm sure.

So I bought a bookshelf/floorstander compromise (Totem arro's), they have decent bass but not the 'feel it in your chest' kind of bass. (small drivers) Thats exactly what I needed. I can play them pretty loud and haven't gotten a complaint yet. If these were 'real' towers with more and bigger drivers, I'm sure I would have to play them at lower volumes because a lot more sound would leak thru walls, floor and ceiling.

Yesterday I went to an uncle who bought a JVC HT set thing. 500$cdn set. Its a sub and 4 satellites. The sub is frightning, I wouldn't dare get one where I am.

I think that in an appartement, a sub would be a nuisance. 1) for the neighbours and 2) For yourself; you'd have to reduce by a lot the overall sound volume if you don't want the police to knock on your door, and I don't see having a sub played at low volumes of any real use..

I'd say skip the sub. With bookshelves you can usually play pretty loud without bothering anyone. A sub you can't, since its bass basically goes thru walls like a hot knife thru butter...
post #17 of 38
I have to agree that it's more about your neighbors than anything else.

Currently, I have a little 8", 50watt sub - but it's being replaced by an HSU STF-2 today - I can't wait! But who knows what my neighbors will think.

Up to this point, they have never complained - and I often hear their music as well. I just try to be respectful about the time. At night, I'll limit my volume to about -25 to -20db. Even in the middle of the day, I rarely get up over -15db.

I actually have a very good litmus test - a 3 year old daughter whose room share a wall with my living room. If I wake her up, then I'm likely bothering the neighbors!

And a quick "fussy neighbors story": I was talking to my landlord one day, and he told me this story about his strangest noise complaint. A tenant complained that his upstairs neighbor was vacuuming his floors late at night - every night. It turned out, the the downstairs resident was hearing the upstairs resident's refrigerator... talk about being a bit too sensitive!!

Happy New Year,

post #18 of 38
Questions like this can't really be answered without knowing the construction of your building. Living in a pre-war building is probably the most conducive to apartment HT life. New construction is usually much less amenable to our hobby. But it really is dependent on the building. In my case, mine was first built in the early 1900s as a commerical space, then recently renovated for residential use (like many NYC apartments). The floors are hugely thick, but the newer walls are only ~ 8" thick or so. Just to be safe, I "sound-proofed" nearly all of the shared walls in my apartment. If you own your own place, and don't mind the cost/hassle of this kind of construction, it might be worth a consideration if you are really into your hobby.

One suggestion already mentioned is not to get a downfiring sub. Another suggestion is to try and place the sub away from any shared walls between you and your neighboors (which might require longer cable runs for the subwoofer). Also, when watching at night, use the "nightime" sound range compression scheme available in most recievers/pre-amps to keep the volume range manageable. And of course, try not to get obnoxious with the volume!
post #19 of 38
I'm in a townhouse, and will order the vtf3-mk2 once it comes out. Wonder what the neighbours will say :D

In all fairness though, I have never received a complaint about noise, and I have never heard them through the walls either. I'm also in an end-unit, and will place the sub as far away as possible. Plus we have train tracks 30 feet away....so I hope I will be fine :)
post #20 of 38
Originally posted by univibe88

And a quick "fussy neighbors story": I was talking to my landlord one day, and he told me this story about his strangest noise complaint. A tenant complained that his upstairs neighbor was vacuuming his floors late at night - every night. It turned out, the the downstairs resident was hearing the upstairs resident's refrigerator... talk about being a bit too sensitive!!

Happy New Year,

This made me laugh. I once live in a (rather crummy) apt. building were my neighbour DID vacum the rugs OUT IN THE HALL at 3 am with her KIDS (about 4 years old) out playing in the hall. Another time they left the clock radio alarm on full balst tht wntr of a 3 am. I had to get the super out of bed to unlack the door and turn it off. They were absolutley the most ignorant inconsiderate people I have ever met.
post #21 of 38
I'd still get a sub, even if it meant playing it at low volumes. I figure low bass is better than no bass. But yes, you have to discipline yourself to keep it down. I just watched a DVD right now (finished at ~2 a.m. on Fri. night/Sat. night) w/ my EV speakers on. I kept it at 1/4 volume, which is still louder than what the TV speakers can produce, but soft enough to not be obnoxious to the neighbors - or so I think. :D
post #22 of 38
"Subwoofer and apartment: can they get along?" No. If you want bass and rad home theater, get out of an apartment.

If one neighbor digs the bass, another neighbor will surely be dailing the police non-emergency number. In some places if you get three warnings and the police has authority to take your system :(

Someone earlier in the thread mentioned down-firing subs are more problematic. I don't see why, bass is omni-directional.

Man I am glad I no longer dwell in an apartment! :)
post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by beowulf7
I figure low bass is better than no bass.
So do I. And after reading all the replies, and thanking everyone for their opinion, I'm going to get the sub.
post #24 of 38
Do it, get something from www.mksound.com, adjust the frequency, phase and volume so it sounds righteous, put on Saving PVT Ryan, and crank it up! :)
post #25 of 38
Like the guy in the above post said... put yourself in your neighbors position and go from there. Better to do unto others as you would have them do to you. Drives me nuts when folks get the attitude that they are the only one on the face of the earth and they think they will do whatever they want no matter who they bother. I love my movies loud and at times I love my rock and roll loud but if I though it was bothering someone I would be truly embarrased and turn it down or off and get some headphones. I am lucky to live in a house and know others have to do the apartment thing....
post #26 of 38
I'm having the exact same problem with the condo owner under me. I got a call at 9pm complaining that the Bass was was too loud. This is with the bass already turned down and moderate listening levels. This old has done nothing but complain since I moved in 6 months ago. First it was the installation of ceramic then the fact I was doing a wash at 10pm. I've always checked with my neighbor to the side who shares the same walls as me, he has never said anything negative, this even after I specifically mentioned bass and the sound-system.

The HT is on my mezzanine, so there is even a level between the HT and the old hags' condo.

Hopefully I'll find a solution in the web site mentioned in this thread.
post #27 of 38
what blocks noise best?
Is it Brick, Cement or something else?
post #28 of 38
Sound waves at lower frequencies bleed even between the thick walls of commercial theaters. We were watching Lord of the Rings and still heard some bass slams from another film.

Bass waves mature with distance and they are omni-directional. This is why the bass may not be real loud to you, but 20' away can be ear damaging to your neighbor, the wave matured.
post #29 of 38
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by hometheaterguy
Bass waves mature with distance
Quotation of the day.
post #30 of 38
Is there a cheap way to sound proof an apart.? I went to the sound proofing web-site and that stuff is $. I've heard old egg cartons can work, is this true. Anybody have any other suggestions?

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