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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My neighbors have been consistently complaining whenever I watch TV or listen to music after 11pm. Now I realize that I am in an apartment and can't be watching a blockbuster at reference levels at night, but I have to pay attention to be able to hear whatever I am listening too. I even measured the sound level at the listening position and it averages around 42 dB with peaks up to 46-47. I even skipped a subwoofer on my system (5.0) in an attempt to avoid this very thing. In an attempt to resolve the problem, I asked them if I could come over to listen to the problem during the day, and listen to the problem. Unfortunately they are no entirely exaggerating. You can hear that there is something playing, even at low levels. Making matters worse, their headboard is right up against my living room wall.


It has gotten to the point where I have to hold the remote the entire time I watch a movie and throttle the volume to keep them from coming to my door. My girlfriend and I are both graduate students who are often up late and this situation is making us feel like we can't even watch television in our own apartment comfortably.


Some details on my space. The apartment appears to have concrete floors covered in carpet. My living room is about 13'x18' with 9' ceilings. My speakers are all 18-24" away from any wall. The rear speakers are both on stands, the mains are floor standing, and the center is beneath my TV. My couch is 3' off the back wall.


Does anyone have any suggestions? I have been contemplating some acoustic absorbing panels, but am not confident that will help at the frequencies that are causing the problem.

Thanks
 

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Are your loudspeakers mounted against the wall or directly standing on the floor?


If so you need to isolate their vibrations from the wall/floor.
 

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If you could get hold of the office cubicle dividers that are acoustically soundproof,as many are, then that is an option.I mean the ones that are portable and can be moved around.I would take the feet off them and mount to the wall or lean against the wall.Also spray insulating foam in your wall receptacles being careful not to spray inside the receptacle itself,just around the box under the face plate..I feel your pain
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526218


My neighbors have been consistently complaining whenever I watch TV or listen to music after 11pm. Now I realize that I am in an apartment and can't be watching a blockbuster at reference levels at night, but I have to pay attention to be able to hear whatever I am listening too. I even measured the sound level at the listening position and it averages around 42 dB with peaks up to 46-47. I even skipped a subwoofer on my system (5.0) in an attempt to avoid this very thing. In an attempt to resolve the problem, I asked them if I could come over to listen to the problem during the day, and listen to the problem. Unfortunately they are no entirely exaggerating. You can hear that there is something playing, even at low levels. Making matters worse, their headboard is right up against my living room wall.


It has gotten to the point where I have to hold the remote the entire time I watch a movie and throttle the volume to keep them from coming to my door. My girlfriend and I are both graduate students who are often up late and this situation is making us feel like we can't even watch television in our own apartment comfortably.


Some details on my space. The apartment appears to have concrete floors covered in carpet. My living room is about 13'x18' with 9' ceilings. My speakers are all 18-24" away from any wall. The rear speakers are both on stands, the mains are floor standing, and the center is beneath my TV. My couch is 3' off the back wall.


Does anyone have any suggestions? I have been contemplating some acoustic absorbing panels, but am not confident that will help at the frequencies that are causing the problem.

Thanks
 

The problem is almost certainly sound transmission through the structure of the building (not airborne) and this makes it impossible to fix. To make matters worse, the apartment dividing wall is probably acting as a big transducer all by itself and what appears to be a very low sound level on your side appears way higher on the neighbor's side. I have had a similar problem in the past and unfortunately, there is nothing you can do that will fix it. 45dB is very quiet and you can't listen at any lower level, yet still it annoys your neighbor. 

 

The only solution is, as the other guys have said, headphones. You can get headphones that attempt to reproduce a 5.1 sound field and they can work pretty well. Another idea would be to use a tactile transducer under your couch so that you can literally feel the bass, even though there is no actual sound. When used with headphones a TT gives an amazingly realistic impression of loud, deep bass. Google Buttkicker or Crowson for more info on TTs.  Good luck!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526470


Are your loudspeakers mounted against the wall or directly standing on the floor?


If so you need to isolate their vibrations from the wall/floor.
 

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Newton  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526645


If you could get hold of the office cubicle dividers that are acoustically soundproof,as many are, then that is an option.I mean the ones that are portable and can be moved around.I would take the feet off them and mount to the wall or lean against the wall.Also spray insulating foam in your wall receptacles being careful not to spray inside the receptacle itself,just around the box under the face plate..I feel your pain
 

Sadly, nothing will work in this case. The problem is the actual structure of the building and sound is being transmitted via the actual structure, not just heard "through the walls". That is why the neighbor can hear it even when it's only 45dB or so. (I would consider 45dB to be 'off' for example).  I had the same situation some years back when I lived in an apartment - I was mad as hell at my neighbor for playing 'loud music' at night, but when I went around to his place I was totally amazed at how quietly he was playing it - it was barely audible, and it was actually louder next door, in my apartment. And because the sound is being transmitted via the structure of the building, nothing will stop it because he can't isolate his room from the building's structure. 
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526470


Are your loudspeakers mounted against the wall or directly standing on the floor?


If so you need to isolate their vibrations from the wall/floor.

The walls act like giant earphones and transform any sound in the room into structural vibrations that they carry where ever they can. I don't know why people act surprised when I say that most of the energy that leaves a speaker does so by acoustic not mechanical means.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have considered getting some wireless headphones, but since we are both rarely home before 9pm, it would interfere with our ability to actually talk to each other leaving us the choice of either talking or watching the programs we enjoy together. So while it would make the neighbor happy, it would be detrimental to our relationship and the little time we get to spend together to relax after a long days in the lab.


I can definitely relate to the posts saying it can be worse in the adjacent room. You can still hear some of the vocals, but the bass is very boomy, much more so than in my apartment. I originally had my speakers on spikes, but after one of the early complaints removed them thinking it would help...but alas, it has not. Even more problematic is that I know this problem is not tied to my surround setup. I originally had a pair of stereo bookshelf speakers on stands that received similar negative attention. I feel bad because I literally never hear the slightest peep from anyone else in my building, day or night. We have actually recently been considering moving in an attempt to get away from this as we have both been at fault for the audio, but given our current lives, it is just too impractical.


Any chance one of those speaker vibration pads would help?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24527264


I can definitely relate to the posts saying it can be worse in the adjacent room. You can still hear some of the vocals, but the bass is very boomy, much more so than in my apartment.
 

That is the transmission via the structure. Your neighbor's wall is acting as a giant bass transducer, picking up sound from your side of the wall and turning it into vibrations on his side of the wall. It is his wall which he is hearing rather than your sound, although of course to him it seems like it is the sound from your room. There is nothing you can do about it short of rebuilding the apartment and taking care to introduce proper acoustic isolation, which is just not going to happen for obvious reasons.

 

 

Quote:
 Any chance one of those speaker vibration pads would help?
 

No. It is not any vibration from your speaker that is causing the problem - it is sound being transmitted acoustically (via the air), hitting the structure of the building and then being transmitted via that structure to your neighbor's shared wall. Some vibration will also travel via the floor and ceiling joists too. This is why you hear the boomy sound in his apartment - the bass is more readily transmitted in this way.

 

The only practical solution (other than moving) is to use headphones and I fully understand why you are reluctant to go that way. You can buy headphones which do not isolate you so much from the environment (open back designs) and these may allow you and your GF to talk while also listening. A demo in a decent audio or music store will show you which offer the least isolation from the environment. Many Sennheiser designs will be interesting to you for example. I really do feel your pain on this.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbarnes701  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526879




Sadly, nothing will work in this case. The problem is the actual structure of the building and sound is being transmitted via the actual structure, not just heard "through the walls". That is why the neighbor can hear it even when it's only 45dB or so. (I would consider 45dB to be 'off' for example).  I had the same situation some years back when I lived in an apartment - I was mad as hell at my neighbor for playing 'loud music' at night, but when I went around to his place I was totally amazed at how quietly he was playing it - it was barely audible, and it was actually louder next door, in my apartment. And because the sound is being transmitted via the structure of the building, nothing will stop it because he can't isolate his room from the building's structure. 

With the mentioned levels a normal conversation would also be transmitted. It might be mechanical transmissions but since we don't know how the speakers are mounted it's difficult to guess at the exact cause.


From further information about the bass transmitted a lot stronger than vocals it seems an acoustic transmission that excites the walls LF resonance.

A drastic measure against this is a sound proofing wall but that will be fairly complicated/expensive to get it right.


In my case the walls are 30cm concrete between the apartments. Acoustic transmission is far less an issue than mechanical transmission due to the mass involved.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoth  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526218


Making matters worse, their headboard is right up against my living room wall.
Swap apartments.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24528134

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbarnes701  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24526879




Sadly, nothing will work in this case. The problem is the actual structure of the building and sound is being transmitted via the actual structure, not just heard "through the walls". That is why the neighbor can hear it even when it's only 45dB or so. (I would consider 45dB to be 'off' for example).  I had the same situation some years back when I lived in an apartment - I was mad as hell at my neighbor for playing 'loud music' at night, but when I went around to his place I was totally amazed at how quietly he was playing it - it was barely audible, and it was actually louder next door, in my apartment. And because the sound is being transmitted via the structure of the building, nothing will stop it because he can't isolate his room from the building's structure. 

With the mentioned levels a normal conversation would also be transmitted. It might be mechanical transmissions but since we don't know how the speakers are mounted it's difficult to guess at the exact cause.


From further information about the bass transmitted a lot stronger than vocals it seems an acoustic transmission that excites the walls LF resonance.

A drastic measure against this is a sound proofing wall but that will be fairly complicated/expensive to get it right.


In my case the walls are 30cm concrete between the apartments. Acoustic transmission is far less an issue than mechanical transmission due to the mass involved.
 

It isn’t likely to be mechanical transmission IME - much more likely to be acoustic transmission exciting the wall as you suggest and then transmitting the sound through the structure into next door.  I doubt if there is any cure for it other than moving house, which is rather drastic. We don't know where the OP lives, but in many areas the walls of apartments are poorly constructed AFAICT.

 

You make a good point about normal conversation - perhaps the OP will comment on whether his neighbors hear normal conversation too. 
 

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Sounds similar to my predicament:

 

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1523747/need-help-sound-experts

 

 

I am not here to rag on you or to judge you but you must consider - what gives you the right to play a home theatre system inside an apartment? Esp. where other people have to live?

Sure not a problem for the most part - inside your own home - but in an apartment? I think it is rather rude to even have tried to pull that off. Even though there is one guy complaining - more than likely there is a few others that don't agree with what your doing - but wont complain. Now you stated that you play it really low at night etc now - but have you tried to just play it through the tv speakers only? I bet that would solve the problem. Once again - Im not ragging on you or passing judgement - just pointing out that when you live in a condo or apartment in close proximity to others - you have to give up some of your rights. If you want to unleash that home theatre system - you need to move to your own private house and do it there because it wont bother people.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kbarnes701  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24528207

 

 

It isn’t likely to be mechanical transmission IME - much more likely to be acoustic transmission exciting the wall as you suggest and then transmitting the sound through the structure into next door.  I doubt if there is any cure for it other than moving house, which is rather drastic. We don't know where the OP lives, but in many areas the walls of apartments are poorly constructed AFAICT.

 

You make a good point about normal conversation - perhaps the OP will comment on whether his neighbors hear normal conversation too. 
Hey kbarnes - could you read my post and let me know your expert opinion? Im in a similar predicament....

 

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1523747/need-help-sound-experts
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Derks  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24528134



With the mentioned levels a normal conversation would also be transmitted. It might be mechanical transmissions but since we don't know how the speakers are mounted it's difficult to guess at the exact cause.


From further information about the bass transmitted a lot stronger than vocals it seems an acoustic transmission that excites the walls LF resonance.

A drastic measure against this is a sound proofing wall but that will be fairly complicated/expensive to get it right.


In my case the walls are 30cm concrete between the apartments. Acoustic transmission is far less an issue than mechanical transmission due to the mass involved.
Hey Frank - could you read my post and give my your expert opinion? Im in a similar predicament....

 

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1523747/need-help-sound-experts
 

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Quote:
Now you stated that you play it really low at night etc now - but have you tried to just play it through the tv speakers only? I bet that would solve the problem.

I bet it wouldn't, if I understand the issue properly and the TV/front stage are against the shared wall. I'm normally a lurker because someone hits on what I'd say within a reply or so on this forum, but I'd like to offer another solution.


OP, the key to this situation is near-field listening. Recently, I t/s a similar issue with my grandparents. Theirs was not a problem of disturbing neighbors, but my grandfather disturbing my grandmother. Unfortunately, he is almost deaf and was jacking the TV volume so loud it was driving my grandmother crazy. He cannot reasonably wear headphones either, nor was it desirable. We got him something similar to this (note that I am NOT endorsing this product in particular but a product of this genre).


It's very simple to set up, just a pair of RCA jacks to the TV or l/r preouts of your receiver. Then keep the speaker on the couch with you, or perhaps on a coffee/end table close to your body. The point is to reduce the distance between your ears and the speaker so that you can keep the level as low as possible. Is it ideal or high-fidelity? Or course not, but it solves the problem until you can relocate. If you can have normal conversation in your apt without the neighbors hearing, this solution will work for you.


Best of luck.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig13  /t/1524199/apartment-noise-complaints-but-can-hardly-hear-my-music#post_24528398

 

 If you want to unleash that home theatre system - you need to move to your own private house and do it there because it wont bother people.
 

Unleash?  He's measuring out at ~45dB!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I was originally in the mindset that a home theater system was just simply not in the cards for a low cost apartment, but the place I am living is prewired for a system and the leasing agent said that the apartment was built with this in mind and that they rarely had any complaints. The front speakers are opposite the shared wall, and due to the layout of the room, that is impossible to change ( access doors that must be left accessible). They never complain about a conversation, but the rooms are alternated bedroom,living room, bedroom, living room, so it is only a problem when people don't go to bed at the same time. It seems to be a series of poor design decisions. Perhaps in an effort to cut costs they made the poor assumption that everyone works a 9-5 job.


The rear speakers are sitting on wooden stands 24" off the shared wall, fronts are floor standing, and the center is on a shelf beneath my tv. The fronts are 18" from the wall.
 
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