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I live in an apartment (hopefully that doesn't disqualify from me posting here) and my neighbour once every week or so decides to stay up until about 2am watching TV all night. Normally, this doesn't bother me, but the bass sound from the Television can be heard in my apartment which is below his.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to mitigate the effects of the bass sound effectively? My building is wooden structure and people have hardwood floors in the living room where TV's are watched. Moreover, I recently redid the hardwood floors in my apartment and I was told by the contractor that there was no acoustic padding underneath the existing floors, which he says is highly recommended against in such a high density building. I ended up paying extra for the acoustic padding for my floor, but short of doing this in my neighbour's apartment is there something I can do to my ceiling, for example, to improve this?

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A Christmas gift of headphones (wrapped in a copy of your city's noise abatement ordinance)? Also, take a look at: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/5947/… –  Niall C. Dec 10 '11 at 22:34
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I sincerely believe that subwoofers should be banned from apartments just as large dogs are. Headphones, people. Show some respect for your fellow humans. –  DA01 Dec 11 '11 at 21:47
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If you live alone, a white noise generator next to your bed might be the best approach. Nothing to install and no great expense. If there is a baby being kept awake or a dog barking, then a knock on the neighbour's door with the baby in your arms or the dog on a leash saying "pardon me, but the bass from the speakers has woken the baby (or dog) and I'd really appreciate it if you could turn it down" might illustrate the problem nicely. Waiting till the morning and discussing what might happen is theoretical. Actual unhappy baby is real. –  Kate Gregory Dec 13 '11 at 2:13
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2 Answers

The first thing working against you is that bass is the hardest frequency to dampen. With a wide wavelength, they travel further and induce vibrations in large objects. In short, the usual egg crate foam isn't enough.

The good news is that these are often custom built when created, and a simple Google search for bass traps will yield plenty of instructional details. Most of these are meant for isolating bass within the room that it is generated in. How much success you'll have isolating it in your room will be interesting.

I'd personally start with the top tri-corners of the room, and perhaps the ceiling.

Other options are to try and get the neighbor to install that kind of dampening in his apartment, or to use one of these on the ceiling:

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Image link is broken. –  Tester101 Dec 11 '11 at 14:04
    
+1, except using the broom is a fundamentally broken technique - you start with a confrontation this way (basically you say "shut the F up") which is much worse than a polite yet assertive talk. –  sharptooth Dec 12 '11 at 12:53
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As the other answerer said, it is difficult to stop low-frequency waves (eg, bass). I am in the middle of a major soundproofing project in my upstairs condo bedroom right now (it's a two-story unit sandwiched between two other units). My research over the past several months has introduced me to a number of products, only a few of which boast high performance when it comes to lower frequencies. These are:

  • Green Glue
  • QuietRock 525/545
  • Genie Clip/hat channel assembly

Other soundproofing solutions that may not be ideal for blocking low frequencies are:

  • Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV)
  • Homasote

As the other answerer also said, soundproofing is most effective when implemented in the source room. Since this is most likely not an option, your ceiling should be the target structure here. If you are able and willing to make more structural changes to your unit, you might consider applying another layer of drywall to the ceiling, using Green Glue in between the new and existing layer. You can use up to three tubes of Green Glue per 4x8 sheet. If your budget is more open, you may consider using QuietRock 525 with Green Glue instead of regular drywall. If you're up for a really fun DIY project, you can do to your ceiling what I recently did with my bedroom wall: Tear down the drywall and install a new layer over a Genie Clip/furring channel assembly.

If you do decide to go with any of these measures and you also have ceiling fixtures like lights or a ceiling fan, you may also want to look into QuietPutty to apply to the backside of all fixtures to keep noise from sneaking through the openings in your drywall. Also look into acoustical sealent. I used QuietSeal PRO for my wall, but there are a number of sealants out there.

One more thing to bring up is that, since you're not soundproofing the source room above you, you may have the issue of flanking. Flanking is when sound waves basically sneak around your soundproofing barriers by sending vibrations along other paths. For example, you can soundproof your ceiling, but their bass can still go though their floor, along the joists above your ceiling, down your wall's frame, and out through your drywall. I have never directly experienced flanking of that magnitude, though, so I can't say whether or not it would be an issue.

Don't just take my word on all this, though. Research all of the products I talked about if you so decide to take such measures. Whatever you do, don't expect a simple solution.

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