Drowning out the bass
Posted by Chappell on Thu, Mar 7, 02 at 0:12

Hi, my wonderful neighbors play a lot of really bassy music and although i have a white noise maker, fans, etc, nothing seems quite capable of actually drowing out the bass. it drives me absolutely nuts and it's to the point now where if i hear it even a little bit, even when it's not very loud, i get very tense and angry. i am one of those really quiet, respectful people who has attracted noisy, obnoxious neighbors my whole life. i rented a house once which was so great, but that was on the east coast. now i'm in CA, and renting a house is a little more expensive here. i'm in a 3-floor apartment building on the 2nd floor (i'm surrounded!!!:)) not a pretty sight(the landlord told me the neighbors were VERY quiet. but, she doesn't live here)anyway, i am SUCH a light sleeper, and i think i have bionic hearing or something because i can hear everything.

My boyfriend is over sleeping like a log and i'm up all pissed off, stressed-out and amazed that people can be soooo damn inconsiderate. it's really amazing! i love when they come home from the bar at 2:30 and try to keep the party going. to have it not even occur to these people that they might be disturbing others, or if they just don't care, floors me. and it's not that i don't like to party because i do at times. i love music, even some of the stuff my neighbors listen to, but for god's sake there's a time and a place and i don't consider your apartment a place! unless you're buddies with everyone else who lives there and you all agree that it's ok. people just annoy the sh!t out of me. anyway, does anyone know of an effective way to drown out bass??? thanks for any replies:):)

Follow-Up Postings:
RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: Libby_CA on Thu, Mar 7, 02 at 5:03
I totally feel your pain. The only thing that works is ear plugs. I have tried white noise makers, fans and I even turned on my own stereo to something more soothing so I could sleep, but that just caused me to stay awake listening to the not pleasing sincopated rhythem caused by the blending of the music that just about drove me insane! I wish there was better advise, but that was the only thing that worked for me.

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: Talley_Sue_NYC on Thu, Mar 7, 02 at 13:00
are these people scary, or just rude with their bass? If they haven't given you any reason to be leery of them, perhaps you'd get further (and get more sleep) if you found a way to let them know.
I'm not saying this is you, but it might be, from what you've said: I've seen people get mad and mad and madder, but not speak up. Then when they finally do, they're so mad they can't be civil. It's always better to act than to fume--can you find a way to act? Can you write them a note: "last night your music, esp. the bass, kept me from sleeping. Please, would you be very careful of the noise levels at night?" You shouldn't have to ask them I agree, but the point is not for them to do what's right (because they won't, either because they don't think or because they don't care), but for you to make some progress.
I've never really had to deal with it, but I'd fear that bass won't be drowned out at all. That's why I'd say you should find a way to communicate with them. When you do, remember that people who feel attacked or lectured are not receptive to suggestions or to change. So while they may deserve to get yelled at or spoken to sarcastically, you won't get what you want. I'm not saying you'd be that way, but I know (from personal experience on both sides) that when people wait and wait and wait until they're REALLY mad, they have trouble w/ this communication.

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: gretchdent on Sat, Mar 9, 02 at 22:56

Chappell, you're describing my apartment complex EXACTLY!!!
I've had the exact same problem and have asked my neighbor three times to keep it down -- the first time when he had a party (or something similar involving lots of people with loud voices shouting at each other and whooping with laughter) between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and the second and third times due to thumpy bass music after 10 p.m. Each time he's apologized and been SOOOO surprised to hear that we can hear through the walls -- but he does it again! I feel like I can't go over there every single night, or even every single weekend, but he seems to "forget" that we've talked every time he turns on his stereo.

I feel like a nerd complaining about music or parties on weekends, but the fact is we go to bed earlier than he does. He does it during the week, too (I don't think he works so he doesn't have to get up at 6 like the rest of us -- at least that's the only thing I can think of that makes sense, or why would he be up having parties at 2 a.m. on a work night?) And it doesn't bother my boyfriend either (when I complain he says "I wish you had lived in the dorms so you'd understand" -- but I firmly believe that a community of adults SHOULDN'T be like the dorms! Aren't people supposed to grow out of that kind of inconsiderate behavior?) So I do recommend talking to your neighbor, but I doubt it will solve the problem on its own. I find it hard to complain in person, usu. because I'm so mad every time I hear thump thump from next door I can't speak politely, but Talley Sue's idea of a note might be the best way to go. I wouldn't do it every time you hear it but if you have a reocrd of the time of night and how loud the music / party was, and leave them a polite note when there is a beyond-the-pale noise occurrence, they might get the point.
Two things I have found do help (although I maintain that I should NOT have to use them) are earplugs, like Libby said, and sleep aids (I use the tylenol brand sleeping pill and the Celestial Seasonings "Sleepytime Extra").

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: Cara_6 on Sat, Mar 9, 02 at 23:46
Perhaps when the noise level is at an all time high, you can knock on his door and politely ask if he has a minute to come into your apt. ..that you'd like him to hear something.
He might just do that; and then you would nicely point out that you know he isn't aware of how his sound travels...and could he please lower the volume, etc.
(I would like to yell at him, etc. as you would; but in this case, you might catch more flies with honey.......)

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: Addled on Wed, Mar 13, 02 at 13:58
Earplugs help. And as of May or June, Brookstone will be again carrying the "Sleep Enhancement" soundcard for their white noise machine. I will let you know if it works. It includes sounds like "Air Conditioner" and "Plane"...sounds that always make you go to sleep.
I totally sympathize. My upstairs neighbors are this couple who spend their every waking moment in the house and one of them only works occasionally, so he likes to blast the radio at night and in the morning. My downstairs neighbor goes to sleep by listening to bass-heavy hip hop music every night. I complained and he has been more accommodating, but the people who live above me are just crazy. They walk back and forth constantly and don't even go out on the weekends.

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: Lajeho on Thu, Mar 14, 02 at 3:06
Oh, how I sympathize with you all. Fortunately for me and my fiancee, our bedroom is one of only two rooms in our whole apt that does not touch our inconsiderate neighbors apt, so we turn on a fan in our bedroom (yes, even in the wintertime) and that drowns out almost all noise from them, so at least we can usually sleep in peace. But as for the rest of the apt, I almost feel like I can't even hang out in my own living room anymore. Even if they are having a rare quiet moment next door, I am constantly anticipating the next explosion of noise...loud music/bass, yelling and shouting, slamming doors, etc. But anyway, as for drowning out the noise, I agree with the earplug idea. I have several pairs of earplugs for the sole purpose of dealing with my neighbors. I resent the fact that I have to walk around my own home with plugs in my ears, but its better than going insane. Sometimes fans can help drown out the noise, although they are not always effective. I have started stooping to the level of my rude neighbors by cranking up my music/bass during the day. Two wrongs don't make a right, but I am giving them a taste of their own medicine. I can't wait to move!!!

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: boston_area on Thu, Mar 14, 02 at 15:16
the problem with noise masking devices (from low tech like fans to higher tech like white noise generators) is that they just add more sound on top of the sound you're trying to avoid hearing.
earplugs do work, but i always resent having to wear them.
i'm driven crazy by low frequency noise too .. not just stereos, but the noise from HVAC units, trains, trucks, etc.

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: lbchan on Wed, Apr 3, 02 at 2:47
Oh, you have all made me feel so much better. It does me (and my blood pressure) a world of good to read about someone else resenting the need to wear earplugs in their own home.
I live in a three-story apartment building (on the second floor) and most of my neighbors seem to be a never-ending parade of hip-hop, heavy-bass, must-have-been-raised-in-a-barn, no-manners loud music lovers. Actually, I like my music loud, too -- but that's what headphones were made for!
Like so many of you, I also have very good hearing -- which makes me reluctant to complain to my landlord. He's nice (I'm lucky that way) but I'm always afraid he won't hear what I hear. And there's always the issues about becoming someone who complains too much -- not a good idea in a rental market like mine.
Truly, I'm not bothered by TV, talking, footsteps, water or any of the higher-frequency sounds, but bass drives me completely batty. I think what I resent the most is having someone else's stereo determine what time (3 am? 4 am?) I'll be ALLOWED to try and get some sleep. My upstairs neighbor, in addition to loving his bass, also seems to be hard of hearing. Oh joy. He also frequently comes home drunk, can't figure out how many flights of stairs he's climbed, and tries to use his key on my front door. It doesn't work, but it's frightening in the middle of the night just the same.

I hope to find a new place soon. In the meantime, I'm going to swallow my resentment and research custom-fitted earplugs. Thanks to all of you for the good advice and the chance to vent!

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: Radar on Sun, Apr 14, 02 at 4:29
Are they upstairs from you? It's possible the speakers are sitting on their floor. Then you end up hearing this "boom-boom-de-boom" whenever they play their music, right? The simplest solution is for them to put their speakers up on something.... like a small table, entertainment center, even a cardboard box or a milk carton. ANYTHING that gets them off the floor. I've gone upstairs and made that request (politely, offering to let them come downstairs and hear it for themselves if they like), with two different sets of upstairs neighbors, and that has taken care of the problem, provided the music is played at normal to low levels. Loud music should'nt be allowed on their lease, anyway.

If they're next-door or downstairs, the problem would be that the speakers are either mounted on, or sitting up against the walls. Again, the key to lowering the noise from them is to get them away from the walls.

I really don't see why anyone (especially in an APARTMENT) feels they need a big sound system these days. I've got a wonderful little portable CD player that is the only thing I need. I have 2 sets of headphones: one for jogging and one for around the house (which has better sound, and LOTS of bass!) I just put the CD in a fanny pack or the front pocket of a sweatshirt, and it sounds every bit as good as a big sound system. Better, in fact, 'cause the headphones help tone down other background noise, so I hear ONLY the music. I really wish that leases written these days would ban big stereo systems. (If a landlord can say "no" to waterbeds, then they can certainly say "no" to those monster speakers, too!)

Same goes for TV sets. Some people (especially older ones) have crummy hearing, so they turn the TV set 'way up loud. Nowadays new TV sets come with headphone jacks in them, and if you don't want to be tethered to the TV set by a headphone cord, I believe it's also possible to get portable ones, as well. My next TV set is definitely going to have headphones! I keep the volume of mine VERY low, often so much so that I can't hear it myself, either, and I have bionic hearing, too. I guess I must be getting good at reading lips, or something.

I read somewhere about the various ways you might be able to partially soundproof your own apartment. One was to buy decorative soundproofing ceiling squares at a place like Home Depot. I'd never heard of such a thing. I'm not much of a do-it-yourself-er, when it comes to things like that, but I would imagine if you can hang a picture on the wall, you can attach ceiling soundproofing without damaging the ceiling. It MIGHT even be possible to ask the landlord to do it... a more permanent job that might work even better. The walls could probably be lined with similar material, as well. Might even be a great alternative to putting holes in the sheet-rock to hang pictures.

If I'm ever lucky enough to live upstairs someday, I learned a cool trick from a friend, that serves several purposes. Before moving all my furniture in, I'm going going to invest in some large area rugs to put down ON TOP OF the new wall-to-wall carpet that is in the apartment. Not only will that further muffle any noise coming up from below me, but will also muffle the sound of my steps in my place downstairs as well. PLUS, it'll help keep the wall-to-wall carpet cleaner and less worn-out. The nice thing about area rugs is you can send them out to be cleaned, too. And taking shoes off indoors is a good idea, too. I don't bother, living downstairs, but if I'm upstairs someday, I certainly will. (I'm also more of a "toe-walker" than a heavy-footed "heel-walker", too. That sure can be annoying in an upstairs neighbor!)

RE: Drowning out the bass
· Posted by: jezzadu on Wed, May 29, 02 at 14:42

I have lived on both the East and West coast. The trouble with the West is that newer buildings are built according to Earthquake codes - which as far as I can make out means a truck can drive past and your building will shake, and they don't even bother trying to insulate sound between the apartments. Why do I live here? I have no idea.