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Help dampening sub-woofer noise from next door neighbor


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#1 of 15 flowgirl

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Posted June 30 2012 - 12:07 PM

Hi all - I could truly use some advice. We've just moved into a lovely downtown condo which is very soundproof - with the exception of the vibrating sound of our neighbor's subwoofer in his home theatre. If he's listening to music, we get the bump bump whzzzzzzz vibration, and if he's watching movies, we get wall and floor shaking and the sounds of war. We've talked with him a couple of times, and the only solution seems to be putting the subwoofer on night mode, which he's done for the last week and a half. However, he came over last night to discuss his feelings that he should be able to turn the subwoofer on at "reasonable hours" - basically, from 10 am to 10:30 or so pm every day. His feelings are that he's had the subwoofer for 4 years, he didn't have a complaint from the person who lived here before (he was here for about a year and apparently had his own stereo which he blared), and he should be able to listen to his music and movies with the subwoofer on because that's how he likes to listen to it. He also suggested that we could fix the issue by "insulating our walls," which a google search on the subject does not seem to be something that would work. We feel like, while we understand we'll hear some bass noise occasionally even with the subwoofer off (and we are not complaining about that), that the subwoofer is so invasive and irritating with it's constant vibrations that we just don't want to hear it all day on a Saturday, reasonable hours or not. Frankly, we don't want to hear or feel it at all. We are not saying he can't watch his movies or listen to his music - even quite loudly - we just don't want to hear the subwoofer (which is pretty much all we can hear). However, we have been 100% willing to try to find a solution here. I have spent lots of time online trying research ways to deal with this. The only thing I can come up with at the moment seems to be something called a "Subdude," which will get the subwoofer off the floor. We've even offered to pay for it. The problem is that the Subdude seems to work more to reduce noise conveying downstairs, not next door. The other solution that I can find involves him moving his subwoofer to another wall, but he doesn't seem to be too willing to do that. Does anyone have any solutions that could help us stop the subwoofer noise? Is it a major inconvenience for him to have the night mode on? Is there a huge reduction in listening enjoyment? And is it reasonable for us to not want to listen to the banging vibration of the subwoofer, even at reasonable hours? One of the problems is that I am a coach and I often have coaching sessions at 7pm or 8pm at night, and the buzzing thump of the subwoofer isn't really conducive to being fully present for my client. This is causing a HUGE amount of stress for all involved, so I would truly appreciate any expert advice anyone could give. Thanks so much!

#2 of 15 Walter Kittel

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Posted June 30 2012 - 01:07 PM

Sorry, I have no technical solutions for you, but you have my sympathies. My feelings on the matter are as follows: His ability to listen to what he likes ends at the wall separating your domiciles. You have every right to a reasonable level of peace and quiet. While your neighbor may have gotten used to listening in a certain manner; now that he knows he is creating a disturbance, he should alter his behavior. If you have an owner's association for the condos you might want to discuss this with them and see what if they have any policies dealing with noise pollution. I'm not sure if you have any legal recourse in this matter or not. I believe that depends upon the local ordinances. Good luck. - Walter.
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#3 of 15 David Willow

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Posted June 30 2012 - 02:24 PM

I use a subdude (great gramma) and it is great to decrease the vibration of my floor and windows.  It does nothing to prevent the sound from traveling however.  I can hear the sub in other rooms and even outside. I really doubt it will help much.


To prevent bass frequencies from traveling you will need large bass traps. IMO, that is something your neighbor should do.  Having your sub blast through a shared wall is just plain rude!


#4 of 15 Cees Alons

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Posted June 30 2012 - 10:11 PM

Tara,


Welcome to the forum.


It's a good thing that you and your neighbour manage to stay on speaking terms. Both parties should try to keep it that way, if possible.


I have two questions. One is elicited by your comment about your neighbour (not) moving the sub to another wall.

Is the cabinet touching the wall (or very close to it)? Very often, a position close to a wall isn't the very best of places for a sub, technically, and he might be willing to dive into that specific problem. No guarantee that it would change your problem, of course, but who knows.


Another question is this: is anything in your apartment resonating with the sound of the sub? That would make it much worse, potentially, although David Willow hit the nail on the head when he said that having your sub blast through a shared wall is just plain rude.



Cees



#5 of 15 Chris Brown

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Posted July 01 2012 - 03:21 AM

I think both sides need to give a bit here. How often is he actually using his sub? Is it an all-day, every day sort of thing? Or is it just an occasional evening thing or when he has parties? It's not reasonable to expect to never hear your neighbors, nor is it reasonable to expect to be able to pester your neighbors constantly. If I were in his shoes I would expect to be able to use my sub when I have friends over, and for limited durations during reasonable hours of the day, more-so on the weekends. I would NOT expect to be able to run the subwoofer all day long or at late hours unless maybe we're talking about a Friday night party. You've stated that you don't want to be able to hear the subwoofer "at all". I don't think that is reasonable, and it sounds like on some level you're not going to be happy unless you can simply never hear his subwoofer. If that is the case, I suggest you find a house to go live in.

#6 of 15 flowgirl

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Posted July 01 2012 - 05:58 AM

Hi all, and thank you all for your help and insight here. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time, especially as we really would like a positive solution here, and I don't know enough to even propose one. @Walter - I so appreciate your response. Being new in the building, I did reach out to our condo association and ask if there was anything they knew of that would dampen the sound on our end. I figured that there has to be someone else with a subwoofer in the building, and maybe they had already solved it. The condo's response was "Call the police if he won't stop." We didn't really want to do that, as that seemed like a sure-fire way to create an enemy. It does definitely help that your perspective is that his right to listen to what he wants ends at his domicile line. Being that this is the first time we've had to deal with this kind of a thing (and being that we are not home theatre owners), we weren't really sure what was right. Thank you. @David - Thank you for your perspective as well! So, it doesn't sound that a Subdude will help in our situation. :( The bass traps are a good suggestion, but I haven't a clue how much those cost. Any idea? @Cees - Thanks for your input and questions as well. Yes, the sub cabinet is against the wall. Do you think a placement somewhere else would help? If so, can you guess where that might be? As far as things resonating in our place, it sadly seems that the wall is the worst resonator, which we can't get rid of! LOL The wall actually shakes when there's a big "boom" in whatever flick he's watching. @Chris - Thanks for your insight as well. The sub usually comes on around 6 - 6:30 pm and stays on until around 11pm, every night. We really don't want to be jerks here, and again, we don't mind hearing some noise - for instance, we can still hear a little bass even with the night mode on - but it does seem to me that we shouldn't be listening and feeling his bass in our place. We aren't saying he can't listen to music or watch movies - we're just asking him to turn the sub on to night mode. And believe me, it's seriously stressful for us to have to keep going over and talking to him about it, and it's definitely stressful for him as well. This is not a situation we want at all, and we really don't want to be "jerk neighbors." Honestly, I would really prefer if we could hear his music or movies; as it is, all we hear and feel is the sub booming and buzzing, which is really annoying. To all: Some further questions: Is having the "night mode" on something that majorly affects the listening experience? With night mode on, we barely hear it, which seems a solution to us. However, he seems to feel that it affects his listening experience. My understanding of night mode is that it just softens the vibrations coming from the sub; it doesn't knock them all out. Is that right? Is there a way that you know of that would allow the sub to be on without us hearing and feeling it? Has anyone successfully done so in a condo? Thank you again so very much for your help!!!

#7 of 15 Cees Alons

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Posted July 01 2012 - 10:56 AM

Yes, the sub cabinet is against the wall. Do you think a placement somewhere else would help? If so, can you guess where that might be?


Tara,


Most people on this site will say that literally against the wall is not the best place for a sub woofer. It goes too far to give a technical explanation here, but it seldom is the best position. And it should certainly not touch an "outside" wall.

Of course there are many parameters determining the optimal place for a sub woofer in a room, the room dimensions being very important among those.


Here is a technique that may help your neighbour (if he's willing to find out where his sub should be for optimal effect - and perhaps much less "through-the-wall" effect):



He probably owns a "master chair", the place where he, or some significant someone else from his household will normally sit to watch the movies and listen to the audio.


For an important test he should place the sub in that chair. (This may sound weird, but it really makes sense!  Posted Image ). He should then go around in the room and listen carefully where he will hear the sub loudest (not: the best sound together with the rest of the speakers, but just the sub alone). Professionals use special measuring equipment for this part of the test, but human ears are excellent to do it.


The spot where he hears the bass at the loudest is the optimal place where it should be placed.

If that place is really impossible in practice, there may be a second best.

Etc.


I predict it will NOT be directly against a wall.


Result: much better bass and better, more sophisticate and better integrated audio for him, including a possibility (even preference) to play the sub with less power gain.

For you: probably a greater distance of that sub from the wall, softer sub, so probably much less noise and irritation.



If he's willing to try this, he should know that this phase is really a standard professional phase during installation of a full-blown audio system. Most members of this site will have gone through it, once or twice or many more times.



Cees



#8 of 15 Robert_J

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Posted July 01 2012 - 11:01 AM

Is having the "night mode" on something that majorly affects the listening experience?

To me, it would impact me negatively. I spent a lot of money and time researching, building and calibrating my system for optimum performance. Night mode lessens the dynamic range of the system. The quiet passages are louder and the loud passages (explosions) are quieter. That said, I'd never have a system like mine in a residence that shared a wall with someone else. I also made sure to put my theater on the side of the house that was farthest from my closest neighbor.

it sadly seems that the wall is the worst resonator, which we can't get rid of!

Quieting bass requires mass. It takes more energy (volume) to excite more mass. Therefore, adding mass will make things quieter. What are your walls made of?

The bass traps are a good suggestion, but I haven't a clue how much those cost. Any idea?

Most of us make our own. I don't think I've ever seen one as a retail product but I really haven't looked.

Yes, the sub cabinet is against the wall. Do you think a placement somewhere else would help? If so, can you guess where that might be?

Bass is extremely sensitive to sub placement. He may have picked the place that sounds best in his room. At the same time, it also sounds "great" in your room as well.

#9 of 15 David Willow

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Posted July 01 2012 - 02:23 PM

You can purchase bass traps from RealTraps.  I have never purchased anything from them but I have read about them on various forums.  I've heard they are a good place to get advice and products.  YMMV.


#10 of 15 VanillaRice

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Posted July 01 2012 - 03:35 PM

When I was looking for a rental property I searched long and hard for a stand-alone house with a garage. Your neighbor reminds me of my brother when I used to live at home. Attempts to ask him to turn it down fell on deaf ears. Some people are just selfish. If you like to crank your stereo, do it without imposing it on other people. I hope for your sake your neighbor doesn't listen to hardcore techno, I would probably choke him after the first day of listening to that. I know this doesn't help you, but it feels so good not to have to put up with other peoples sh*t anymore.

#11 of 15 Bobofbone

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Posted July 01 2012 - 04:56 PM

When I was in undergraduate school, I lived in a dorm for a couple of semesters. The guys in the next room liked to party into the night, and one night, after midnight, I knocked on their door and when they answered, asked them to turn the volume down a bit, as I had a lecture to be awake for at 8 am. They laughed, closed the door and turned the sound up until about 3 am. I got up at 6, and before leaving at around 620, put both speakers of my stereo against the wall, cranked up the voume, and put on 3 hours of bagpipe music. After that, they would turn the volume way down at 10 pm. It got even quiter after they flunked out and left. Perhaps they learned about empathy. Even though it worked for me, I don't suggest bagpipe music. Did you buy the condo, or lease it? Most leases have a clause in them about noise, both making it and having it come from someplace else (peace, quiet comfort, or something to that effect). If you are leasing, look at yours. Some residential land purchases also come with restrictive covenants. The land I purchased has them, and you may have some as well. If all else fails, you may have some recourse. You don't have to be an attorney to see if thery are there or not. You may have sound coming from other areas. If you have a ventiallation system that shares ducts with your neighbor, it could also be a source of noise, particularly if they are using bare metal and a straight path. It may be necessary to block them or modify them . There are a couple of companies that have some information on them in the form of articles that might be helpful. They are http://www.soundproofingcompany.com/ and http://www.soundisol...CFY9W7AodGHFM6g Good luck.

#12 of 15 David Norman

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Posted July 01 2012 - 05:11 PM

. Your neighbor reminds me of my brother when I used to live at home. Attempts to ask him to turn it down fell on deaf ears. Some people are just selfish..

Why, it sounds like the neighbor is at least trying to help out? At least I haven't heard anything obscene and "FU I'm doing what I want" like other stories on many threads have turned into. Unless parts of the story have been left out it sounds like they are at least wiling to make some compromises. The solution is still elusive, but I haven't heard any ultimatums on either side. If a sitdown in the OP's apartment hasn't happened yet. I'd suggest having the neighbor come in with a movie/music playing and have them listen. Then moving the sub from the wall, or padding the back wall, or repositioning might be more acceptable -- or at least it would give the neighbor an idea of what that side of the wall is experiencing. Sometimes a 6 inch placement difference can make a huge difference particularly if the sub is actually touching the wall. The low frequencies could be louder on the OP side than in the neighbors apartment.

Is having the "night mode" on something that majorly affects the listening experience? With night mode on, we barely hear it, which seems a solution to us. However, he seems to feel that it affects his listening experience. My understanding of night mode is that it just softens the vibrations coming from the sub; it doesn't knock them all out. Is that right?

The answer is very likely yes. Most of use spend quite a bit of time balancing speaker dB for the best experience so If you cut 50-75% of the low frequency energy off it likely could be the difference b/w SD and HD video, or maybe watching a P/S TV cut vs the uncut OAR movie -- it's mostly the same, but it's just missing what makes it special .
 

 


#13 of 15 VanillaRice

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Posted July 01 2012 - 07:38 PM

Why, it sounds like the neighbor is at least trying to help out?

My Bad, I didn't read it all. I'm sure her neighbor is an honorable human being. It's just loud boom boxes have no place in close quarters apartment buildings unless there's some serious sound proofing involved. Just my 2c.

#14 of 15 flowgirl

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Posted July 02 2012 - 01:34 AM

@Cees - Great, great information and super helpful suggestion!! I will take that over to him and see if he's willing to try that out. I can't thank you enough! @Robert - Thanks for the info on night mode. I also appreciate your perspective that you wouldn't put such a system against a shared wall - I guess that's what we are feeling on the issue. As far as the walls go, ironically, we picked this particular condo over several others because of the excellent soundproofing that went into the condo. The floors are 3 feet of concrete and steel (I literally almost never hear a footstep from above us), and while I'm not sure what the walls are made of, they are so soundproof that when I was trying to figure out where the sub was coming from, I put my ear against the wall and I could certainly hear the sub, but I could barely hear any dialogue or music. In fact, if he's got the music or movie turned up loud over there (without the sub), we literally cannot hear anything. So, I think - and this is just a guess - the walls are suitably insulated and thick. It's just the vibrating of the sub that seems to get through! @David W - Thanks so much for the info on the bass traps. I will pass that along to him...:) @Vanilla - I hear you. Currently, his stance is that he should be able to have his sub going on evenings and weekends, because that's how he likes to listen to it. Our stance is that he's welcome to listen to whatever he wants, but we don't want to hear it and feel it (we don't mind some bass sounds or even music - but the sub is felt as much as heard). It does sound like we are living next to a techno-lounge when the music is going. It occurred to me that while we are asking for one sacrifice out of him - to turn the sub to night mode - he can still do anything else he wants to in his condo, including watching movies and listening to music, even loudly. However, with his sub on, we cannot get away from it and it seriously decreases our enjoyment of our condo. We can't take a relaxing bath, listen to our own music without his sub interfering, have a quiet dinner, or many other things. Worse, I am a mind-body author, so I often need to concentrate to write (which is tough with constant bass and major, shaking booms). And, I often record things like podcasts, meditations, and audio products. While I have a good set up for recording, getting that kind of sound out is problematic. Just concentrating with such constant sounds is tough. I really appreciate your perspective, and I am hoping that this will be solved in a positive way really soon! @Bob - LOL - that is hilarious! I kind of like bagpipe music (I'm Irish), but I am sure not too many people would want it blaring through their walls!! Yes, we purchased the condo, and he's an owner as well. The condo ass'n said we should call the police on him, but that seems an awful thing to do. As far as common ventilation systems, the good news is that each unit has it's own individual system, so we aren't getting bleed through from that. In fact, that was one of my first thoughts on this - but a call to maintenance said that can't be it. Thank you so much for your funny story and your help! @David N - Thanks for your response. Yes, we did have him come in and listen to what we were hearing, and his response was, "Well, I guess I wouldn't find that all that bad." These condos are only 850 sq ft, and we literally cannot go anywhere in the place where we don''t hear and feel the sub. In fact, it's worse in the bedroom, which is really strange because the bedroom doesn't share a wall with his unit. It's like the corner of the bedroom amplifies the sound. When we asked about him moving it away from the wall and off the floor, he said that the sub was designed to be on the floor. He did get some sort of insulating foam from work and put it under the sub, but it didn't do a thing to dampen the sound. Unfortunately, that's one of the reasons I don't think the Subdude will work either. He seems to like a lot of action movies, which we can only judge by the fact that wall-shaking booms come at random intervals until the last 30 minutes of the movie, when it sounds like the climax of a fireworks show. We originally thought he was a gamer, but it's apparently movies. In addition, his feeling is that we moved into a downtown condo, so we should expect some noise, and indeed we do. We expect street noise, doors slamming occasionally, the random party on a Friday or Saturday night, etc. We chose this place because it is a vibrant area of town. What we don't feel we signed up for is a sub pounding and shaking our wall (and sometimes shaking things on our tables) every single night. Night mode seems to be a good solution, but if you say that it does decrease his listening experience, then I am sure that's why he's not happy. However, he doesn't seem to be bringing any other solutions to the table (other than we should just put up with it at night and on weekends), so I am hoping that maybe some of this will help. Thanks again to everyone for their excellent help. :)

#15 of 15 Robert_J

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Posted July 02 2012 - 03:40 AM

You didn't mention wall construction. If the final layer is drywall, then Green Glue and another layer or two would definitely lessen the impact through the wall. It's not cheap especially if you can't do it yourself. If you can "barely" hear footsteps then sound from his sub is also coming through your floor. I can't hear footsteps on my concrete foundation but I can feel my sub on the other side of the house. I can't hear it but action movies at medium to high volume are easily felt through 75 feet of concrete dampened by being poured on the ground. It's amazing how strong low frequency sound waves are.