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Equipment for recording neighbour noise

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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Wed Apr 08, 2020 2:39 am

Sam Spoons wrote:I was involved in monitoring sound/noise levels outside a wedding venue just outside Manchester. The problem I had was that what the EHO considered unacceptable 'nuisance noise' was below the level of the background so unmeasurable. Basically, if you could hear a beat or anything that resembled music it was too loud.

So recording or measuring the nuisance noise may not always be possible. Keeping a accurate and detailed log is essential though.

Yeah, it's tedious keeping logs in a home situation as it makes you focus on the noise even more, always feeling like you've got to be ready to make a note every time you hear something to convince the council that it's a problem.

I don't think the noise I want to record is unmeasurable though. It might not register as very loud on a SPL meter I guess, I'm not sure about that but it should certainly be recordable with the right equipment. I did have a problem with a neighbour letting her kid kick his football against the wall on the balcony all day and the noise that was making might have been hard to record, as it was a low-frequency thud, probably similar to the sort of thing you were monitoring.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Wed Apr 08, 2020 3:04 am

CS70 wrote: Since I don't live in the UK I have no opinion about the laws where you are, but the fellows here have indeed quite a lot of experience with that type of questions, and if they say that it's moot, it's most likely moot.

On the technical side, if the noise is loud enough to annoy you, it's odd that it cannot be captured by a mic, unless it's really, really low frequencies (which you would perceive more as a vibration than a sound).

And almost certainly is not the preamp noise floor of the Zoom which is the problem, and what you are hearing is the ambient noise in you room.

Dynamic mics (like a 58) aren't that great for high frequency noise as they roll off the highs, but once again it's hard to say what you mean by "high frequency". It seems unlikely that the sound that annoys you is entirely over the 13-15KHz threshold. You might fare a bit better with a condenser mic, which covers more than the entire audible spectrum, but again it's odd that you don't get anything usable with a 58. It has a cardioid pattern so it won't pick up much from rear and sides, but if you point it towards the neightbour flat, it should. You might try a more sensitive dynamic microphone (there's some), or one with an omni pattern.

But might it be that it's more of a perceptive issue, like you're trying to concentrate and suddenly there is a relatively faint but audible door slam which annoys you? Or do you hear it really loud? Because if you do, so it will even the cheapest microphone.

You may also to equalize and compress the recording a little bit to reveal more details, but if you start manipulating it too much it won't be really that valid even as indicative evidence..

I'm almost certain it's the Zoom's internal noise floor that's the problem, as there's nothing in my bedroom making any noise that would cause the hiss in my recording and the noise I'm trying to record is really quite loud and intrusive, certainly louder than a lot of ambient nature sounds that people might record, so I don't think the Zoom would be any good for that. The SM58 doesn't pick up the noise at all but I also don't get much, if any, hiss using the external input which makes me think the internal mic uses a different pre-amp. I really need a different external mic that is designed to pick up high frequencies though.

I've still got quite good hearing for high-frequencies, although I've also got tinnitus and auditory processing disorder, the latter of which makes it difficult to understand speech when there's a lot of background noise like in a busy pub.

Actually I've just used a frequency generator on my PC to compare with my recording and it seems that the noise I'm trying to record isn't high-frequency at all, it's around 400hz, which makes it even more strange that my SM58 isn't picking it up.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Mike Stranks » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:24 am

I apologise in advance that I shall be blunt...

The Zoom and an SM58 are nowhere near accurate - or neutral - enough to let anyone judge anything apart from, "Yes, that was some noise." And noise-meters are not worth pursuing in an amateur context.

Having been involved in an informal 'neutral third party' noise assessment a few years ago, the other aspect is that, of course, the aggrieved soon notice every sound and noise emanating from the complained-of premises.

I could go on about my experience, but it won't advance the discussion any.

My tuppence...

1) Once social isolation has ended try and face-to-face with the occupiers of the noisy flat. Not letter, email, phone-call, but talk. Have an acquaintance with you - not a family member - and try and keep it light and smiley, but being clear about the issues as you see them. Don't get into an argument... do your best to part on at least calm terms.

2) If you really want to get evidence follow James Perrett's advice and hire some proper kit and keep those logs.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:19 am

Doveman wrote:I'm almost certain it's the Zoom's internal noise floor that's the problem, as there's nothing in my bedroom making any noise that would cause the hiss in my recording and the noise I'm trying to record is really quite loud and intrusive, certainly louder than a lot of ambient nature sounds that people might record, so I don't think the Zoom would be any good for that. The SM58 doesn't pick up the noise at all but I also don't get much, if any, hiss using the external input which makes me think the internal mic uses a different pre-amp. I really need a different external mic that is designed to pick up high frequencies though.

Actually I've just used a frequency generator on my PC to compare with my recording and it seems that the noise I'm trying to record isn't high-frequency at all, it's around 400hz, which makes it even more strange that my SM58 isn't picking it up.

This sounds stranger and stranger. You wouldn't get anything even vaguely forensic (or usable for your specific goal in this instance), but certainly you should get sound, especially if the noise is at 400Hz. I did use a Zoom once (don't remember the model but I think it was in the same H series) and while I wouldn't exchange the preamps for my Daking One or the Aphex 207D, I definitely got reasonable results.

And when shooting video I routinely record audio with cameras mic for alignment (in addition to a separate audio feed), which if anything must be worse than the Zoom, and you can clearly hear little noises well over any ambient noise.

Do you run the H6 from batteries? What is your gain setting? You positive you don't have the pad engaged? I read there are compressors on the unit, you positive they are disengaged? The recorder has different types of capsules, which ones are you using?
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 08, 2020 11:22 am

Mike Stranks wrote:Don't get into an argument

This can be harder than getting a good recording... :)
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Rob Kirkwood » Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:01 pm

Noisy/difficult neighbour is one of those things that can destroy the peace you expect in your own home - been there, got the t-shirt. In our case we spent quite some time talking to the neighbour, trying to get to know them, making friends - & then, out of the blue, something came up that we were able to help them out with.

So, as Mike says, the best possible way to resolve a problem like this is face-to-face without getting into an argument - but appreciate that sometimes this just isn't possible, in which case is moving an option for you?

One other thing that I don't think has been mentioned: In the UK if the noisy neighbour is a tenant they may well be in breach of their tenancy agreement ... but again that's another 'official' process, which may not work anyway.

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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby wireman » Wed Apr 08, 2020 6:21 pm

Doveman wrote:Yeah, I probably can't afford the sort of equipment that would produce evidence that would stand up in court but hopefully it will be enough to convince the Council that there's a problem. The police told me they don't deal with noise nuisance and to phone the Council's out of hours service but when I phoned them they told me they don't have a noise nuisance out of hours service!

I would email the council and ask them if any measurements would prove useful and what equipment would be minimally acceptable.

Meanwhile keep records of the nuisance.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby DanDan » Wed Apr 08, 2020 9:45 pm

The tiny mics on phones and zooms and the cheap measurement mics are all very noisy.
Ultimately though an SPL log of incoming noise is bound to be more useful than a strange audio recording. There are a few iOS options pretty much of the Pro level. You could demo SoundMeter by FaberAcoustical or SPLMeter Pro by studiosixdigital.com
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby John Willett » Thu Apr 09, 2020 2:01 pm

wireman wrote:
Doveman wrote:Meanwhile keep records of the nuisance.

Keeping a diary of every tome it happens and a descrioption is essential.

This is what the Council will take most note of.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Thu Apr 09, 2020 3:55 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:I apologise in advance that I shall be blunt...

The Zoom and an SM58 are nowhere near accurate - or neutral - enough to let anyone judge anything apart from, "Yes, that was some noise." And noise-meters are not worth pursuing in an amateur context.

Having been involved in an informal 'neutral third party' noise assessment a few years ago, the other aspect is that, of course, the aggrieved soon notice every sound and noise emanating from the complained-of premises.

I could go on about my experience, but it won't advance the discussion any.

My tuppence...

1) Once social isolation has ended try and face-to-face with the occupiers of the noisy flat. Not letter, email, phone-call, but talk. Have an acquaintance with you - not a family member - and try and keep it light and smiley, but being clear about the issues as you see them. Don't get into an argument... do your best to part on at least calm terms.

2) If you really want to get evidence follow James Perrett's advice and hire some proper kit and keep those logs.

I agree that I'm probably more sensitive to noise as a result of this ongoing problem but I think I'm still objective enough to be able to distinguish noises that I notice but aren't that loud and other people wouldn't be bothered by from noises that are very intrusive and would annoy most people, like screeching water pipes that wake you up at 2am and the thud of a football being kicked against the wall for hours on end. I'd hoped the latter had stopped after I spoke to my neighbour at No.21 about it but unfortunately it's just started up again after a few days of relative peace and quiet. I say relative, because there's still been the noise from the neighbours directly above me at No.22 stomping about and slamming doors but at least that only happens for a short time each time and it doesn't do my head in as much as the constant thud of the football for hours.

Clearly the Zoom and the SM58 are useless for recording these noises, so I'll return the Zoom. I don't think there's any point spending hundreds of pounds hiring professional equipment though, as the council aren't going to accept that as evidence when I have the key to the case and could have tampered with it. I don't think there's anything magic about the professional noise recorders, they're just calibrated, combine an SPL meter with a noise recorder and some features for analysing the recordings.

So I'm sure there must be a cheaper mic and pre-amp/USB soundcard I could buy that would record the sound to at least prove I'm not imagining it. If no mic can record the noise, then hiring the professional calibrated recorder for a week isn't going to help me and if I can get a recording of the noise, then together with my logs it will help me persuade the council that the noise is unreasonable and get them to investigate further.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:07 pm

CS70 wrote:This sounds stranger and stranger. You wouldn't get anything even vaguely forensic (or usable for your specific goal in this instance), but certainly you should get sound, especially if the noise is at 400Hz. I did use a Zoom once (don't remember the model but I think it was in the same H series) and while I wouldn't exchange the preamps for my Daking One or the Aphex 207D, I definitely got reasonable results.

And when shooting video I routinely record audio with cameras mic for alignment (in addition to a separate audio feed), which if anything must be worse than the Zoom, and you can clearly hear little noises well over any ambient noise.

Do you run the H6 from batteries? What is your gain setting? You positive you don't have the pad engaged? I read there are compressors on the unit, you positive they are disengaged? The recorder has different types of capsules, which ones are you using?

You can listen to my recording here to confirm that it's around 400hz.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LZwryI ... sp=sharing

I have been running the H4 from batteries but they're brand new. Mic gain was 80 I think and I did have the compressor engaged for that recording just to boost the sound to make it easier to hear without having to crank the volume up when playing it back. I don't think the H4 has different capsules.

The recording doesn't represent the situation accurately at all, as in reality there's no background noise/hiss and the noise I'm trying to record is about 10 times louder than it appears to be on the recording. Imagine the sound that's made when someone drags a chair on the floor in the same room that you're in and then muffle it a bit and that's about how loud it sounds in my flat. The closest example I could find is this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmaaOSMkB94
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:25 pm

Rob Kirkwood wrote:Noisy/difficult neighbour is one of those things that can destroy the peace you expect in your own home - been there, got the t-shirt. In our case we spent quite some time talking to the neighbour, trying to get to know them, making friends - & then, out of the blue, something came up that we were able to help them out with.

So, as Mike says, the best possible way to resolve a problem like this is face-to-face without getting into an argument - but appreciate that sometimes this just isn't possible, in which case is moving an option for you?

One other thing that I don't think has been mentioned: In the UK if the noisy neighbour is a tenant they may well be in breach of their tenancy agreement ... but again that's another 'official' process, which may not work anyway.

Rob

Unfortunately I'm a disabled council tenant so there's not really any prospect of moving unless I win the lottery or rob a bank! I had to take the council to court a few years ago just to get them to agree that I had some medical need to move because of the noise, or at least my sensitivity to it, but that only gave me the right to bid on any 1-bed council flats that become available each week (most weeks they're aren't any), without having any idea if they might be even worse and I've only been placed in Band C, so I'd always be outbid by the thousands of people on the waiting list with higher priority in Bands A and B.

I don't know how I'd find out if the noisy neighbours are council tenants, or leaseholders, or private tenants. I can hardly ask them and if they say they're leaseholders or private tenants, ask them for the details of their mortgage company or their landlord so I can make a complaint.

Even if they're council tenants, the council is pretty useless and they've said in the past (not to me, in response to a question from someone else at a council meeting) that they can't / won't take action against a tenant whose kids were causing a noise nuisance as the courts would never evict someone for that.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:37 pm

wireman wrote:I would email the council and ask them if any measurements would prove useful and what equipment would be minimally acceptable.

Meanwhile keep records of the nuisance.

I will keep logs but I find it's difficult to remember to record when the noise stopped. If someone's been banging for half an hour, particularly if there's intermittent breaks for a minute or two, I find it doesn't register when the noise has actually not occurred for 10 minutes, so it can be 30 minutes before I realise that I haven't heard it for a while and I have to guess when it stopped.
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Doveman » Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:49 pm

DanDan wrote:The tiny mics on phones and zooms and the cheap measurement mics are all very noisy.
Ultimately though an SPL log of incoming noise is bound to be more useful than a strange audio recording. There are a few iOS options pretty much of the Pro level. You could demo SoundMeter by FaberAcoustical or SPLMeter Pro by studiosixdigital.com

I've only got an Android phone, so I don't know if the mics are better on the iPhone but I found a few Android apps.

I tried this one first but it seemed a bit oversensitive/inaccurate as it registered me clicking my fingers from 2 feet away as 75db and shows an average of 30db when I'm not making any noise. https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... ibel&hl=en

This one was about the same, around 70db and 26db average.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... eter&hl=en

This one only registers the same noise as 59db and show an average when I'm not making any noise of 14db, which seems more probable but the meter doesn't match the Max shown as the needle only hits 30 or 40.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... eter&hl=en
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Re: Equipment for recording neighbour noise

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Apr 09, 2020 4:59 pm

Ambient noise on a typical living room it likely to be around 30-40dBA so it may be the first is closest to being accurate.
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