If your neighbors like to play loud music and the bass keeps rumbling through the walls, there are a few ways you can alleviate the problem.
But before I share some advice, it’s worth pointing out that bass is different from other types of noise:
Bass is a low frequency sound wave that can easily pass through walls. Unlike dealing with loud music or traffic noise, you can’t block bass noise with conventional soundproofing methods. It falls under the category of “structure-borne noise”. This means that it can easily pass through structures, and while passing it gets worse. Because, if the structure is relatively thin, the bass will produce vibrations on the surface.
To stop low frequency sound waves from disturbing you, you’ll need to use specific soundproofing materials to add thickens to the barrier between yourself and the source of the noise. That’s usually a wall, a door and/or a window. Before starting your soundproofing project, try to stop the noise from happening in the first place.
1. Know thy neighbor
What is the loud neighbor generally like? Have you ever talked to each other? Is he/she violent or are they decent people who are not aware that they’re causing a disturbance? It’s important to know the neighbors profile because this will determine whether you should:
a) talk to them
b) call the police
2. Talk to them
If they don’t seem dangerous and revengeful, try talking to them first. Ask them politely to lower the sound and turn off the bass completely if possible. If the noise bothers you at a particular hour, make sure to mention that as well. Perhaps you don’t mind the noise while you’re at work, but you want peace and quiet to relax in the afternoon or in the evenings.
In some cases letting the neighbors know of the disturbance they’re producing is enough. But many times, it’s necessary to talk to them multiple times. It depends on their moral standing and level of maturity.
If after a few encounters they still won’t budge, then it’s time to call the police. You’ve done your fair share of warnings, and now the authorities can step in on your behalf.
3. Call the police
If the loud neighbors seem violent or of dubious moral standing, call the police immediately. What’s the benefit of doing that? Well, not getting your skull kicked in is the first one that comes to mind.
If you confront the neighbors first, and call the police afterwards, they’ll know it was YOU who called the police on them. This can make them revengeful and who knows what they might do. Ruin your apartment door? Brake in and steal your wallet? Cut your tires, or maybe attack you with a baseball bat? These and endless other bad things can happen. So be discrete and tell the police that you want to stay anonymous. Calling the cops from a hidden number is also advised.
However, calling the police is not a quick fix every time. Police can only give the neighbors a warning. Whether any further legal actions can be taken depends on the state laws. The usual punishment is a small fine, given after a few disturbances have been reported and actually witnessed by the police.
4. Be polite
Don’t confront your neighbors about the noise (or any other problem) in a confrontational manner. Take a deep breath and tell them about the problem in a logical and polite way. Then offer some thoughts on how to stop it from happening.
If you go on the offense and verbally attack them, they might turn up the volume the next time out of spite. This is psychology 101. Act as a friendly neighbor who thinks the best of them. If they’re decent people, they’ll feel embarrassed for betraying your ideal depiction of them and submit to your request.
5. Don’t write a letter
It’s hard to get the point across in a letter. When you’re writing a complaint, it can be perceived as a scathing attack by the recipient. Most of us are not natural writers who can elicit the proper emotional response through our writings. We write clumsy letters and use way too many emojis in our non-formal communication online.
So it’s best to meet in person. The other advantage of meeting in person is that the neighbor has to respond to your complaint immediately. If you send a letter, they can simply ignore it, perhaps even perceiving you as a coward who doesn’t have the courage to meet them in person.
6. Make sure that your record is clean
Maybe your loud neighbor is annoyed by some of your own actions. Are you loud at times? Perhaps while making that smoothie at 5 A.M., or while you’re coughing the phlegm out of your throat. Or maybe you vacuum your apartment at nighttime while others are asleep? As Jesus said:
“Hypocrite! First cast out the plank from your eye, and then you will see to cast out the chip from your brother’s eye.”
This is a practical tips. If you’re also causing a disturbance, they won’t feel any moral obligation to be quieter. Or they’ll call you up on your hypocrisy. In that case, be ready to acknowledge your own mistakes and promise to fulfill your end of the bargain.
7. Soundproof your home
Have you tried the other options to no avail, or don’t feel like they would do any good in the first place? If you answered yes, then soundproofing the area that separates you from the loud neighbor is the next logical step.
In that case, this soundproof advice can help you:
In these articles I’ve shared ways in which you can block airborne and impact noise on the specified area. For blocking bass vibrations, check out the “impact noise” section in each article.
8. Prevent bass noise while sleeping
Those soundproofing projects can be costly, depending on the size of the area you’re trying to soundproof. If you’re soundproofing only one side of the room, it usually costs around $200 to get decent results by using Mass Loaded Vinyl. Of course, it can vary depending on the type and the amount of materials you use. Read the linked articles first to learn how to do this.
But if the noise only bothers you from time to time, like when you’re trying to sleep, there are a few other methods you can try: ear plugs, ear muffs, sleep masks, white noise machines and more. Check out this article to learn more about these methods and their effectiveness.
Bass noise is more difficult to block then standard airborne noise. It’s due to the vibrations that seep through the hollow and thin surfaces separating you from the loud neighbor.
The options you have at your disposal are: talking to the neighbor, calling the cops or soundproofing a part of your home where the noise bothers you the most.
I hope this article has provided you with a few fresh ideas, and that you’ll use them to your advantage.