Q. You guys have talked a lot abouthow to deal with noisy neighbors, but what if you are that noisy neighbor? I like to watch movies and listen to music pretty loudly, but want to be courteous. Are there any DIY soundproofing tips I can use to keep noise from soaking into nearby apartments?
A. Unfortunately, true soundproofing is something you have to do at the construction level, and if you're in an apartment, it's not something your landlord will really let you do. You have a few choices, but none of them are probably going to get you what you want, so you'll probably have to compromise a little bit.
First: Talk to your neighbors
The first step of the process is to communicate with the unfortunate souls that share a wall with you. Some of them might not care about the noise. Some of them might only care about it late at night, and some might not even hear it. If you've gotten some noise complaints already, then you know you have a problem, but if not — if this is just a preemptive strike — you might consider asking your neighbors if they're bothered by the noise you've made thus far. If they aren't, then you may not have anything to worry about. If they have heard it, talk to them about what hours might be appropriate for movie watching and music playing, and what volume level is bearable.
Absorb sound with DIY tricks
Like we said, you can't truly soundproof an apartment unless you can tear down the walls, but there are some things you can do to try and dampen the sound. Heavy drapes on the windows and carpeting on the floor will help a little, while more serious cases can try acoustical wall panels like these in your office or home theater. They may not be pretty, but you can always try to cover them up with something else to keep them from being an eyesore.
You can also use some weather stripping tape to try and seal up the areas around doors and windows, where sound is more likely to escape. A door sweep could be helpful, too, if that sound is leaking out into the hallway.
Lastly, it's important to note that one of your biggest problems will be bass. The bass frequencies that come from your subwoofer are going to be some of the most annoying to your neighbors, because they're so hard to dampen and the vibrations travel so easily. Try sticking an extra piece of carpet or a thick foam rubber pad under your subwoofer to quiet it up. However, if that fails, you may need to just...
Turn it down (or get some headphones)
We know it isn't what you want to hear, but especially in close-quarters apartment buildings with thin walls, you may just have to compromise on the noise level. Turn down the volume, turn down your subwoofer, do whatever it takes to get the volume to a more appropriate level—or at least a level that's easily drowned out by the above DIY tips.
Alternatively, get yourself some headphones and use those for watching your movies or listening to music (you may need an extension cord for the movies). Investing in a nice pair of headphones is a great way to keep you and your neighbors happy. It's still a compromise, but it's a pretty darn good one in our opinion, since you can still listen to your music as loud as you want without anyone complaining.
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