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What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

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What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:09 pm

Hello

What is acceptable room volume for working on music and how would you measure/monitor it? Acceptable meaning it would not be intrusive to either neighbours or people in other rooms. The door is shut. There’s not excessive bass and speakers aren’t resting on floors or backed up close to walls.
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Wonks » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:32 pm

It's really a 'how long is a piece of string' question.

For measurement you'd use a sound level meter, but as for setting a reasonable sound level, there are too many variables to say 'it should be X dB'.

Background noise levels will vary throughout the day, people will be in different rooms with those doors open and closed. Solid brick walls and plasterboard walls will let through different levels of sound.

There may not be excessive bass, but it's still the frequencies that are hardest to stop being transmitted.

If there's somebody around trying to concentrate on say exam studying, then even a faint 'boom boom' is going to be annoying if they can hear it.

I presume there is a reason behind all this?
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:39 pm

You'd measure/monitor it with a sound level meter (or suitable smartphone app)... But as to an acceptable sound volume: massive can of worms with no real answer.

The amount of sound leakage that someone finds intrusive will depend on so many things including (but not limited to):

Time of day
Ambient sound level
Type of music
What the neighbour is doing
Construction of building
Arrangement/support system of speakers
Acoustic treatment of music room
Door/window seals
Etc

In a properly designed and installed pro studio space you might be able to monitor at an average of 85dBC with peaks over 110dB without anyone outside the door knowing you're even there... But in your average ordinary spare bedroom your neighbours or someone downstairs might start complaining when the level reaches 74dBC... (gentle speech level).

Sorry... Not the answer ŷou wanted, but it's really not an answerable question. If your music making disturbs others you'll either have to turn it down, switch to using headphones, or only make music when everyone else goes out.
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:41 pm

Wonks wrote:It's really a 'how long is a piece of string' question.

Of course

I presume there is a reason behind all this?

The flat below me has been empty for months so I've got very used to working at whatever volume suits me. I've been quite spoilt!

Somebody has finally moved in and I've no idea how to satisfy myself I'm not being unfair with volume. "Until they start hammering on the door" doesn't seem like the best way to establish that line. I've considered asking them but I suspect they might simply say, "no noise at all, preferably."
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:48 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:massive can of worms with no real answer.

For sure

In a properly designed and installed pro studio space you might be able to monitor at an average of 85dBC with peaks over 110dB without anyone outside the door knowing you're even there... But in your average ordinary spare bedroom your neighbours or someone downstairs might start complaining when the level reaches 74dBC... (gentle speech level).

They're useful numbers though

I suppose it's about me being satisfied I'm being fair. So if a problem arises I feel I can state my case and it not be unreasonable. Avoiding evenings and weekends and prolonged periods of sustained volume for example.

Perhaps there's an existing point of reference for domestic settings such as television volume or hi-fi listening levels.

But yeah of course, I take your point, it's not a one size fits all kind of a thing
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:56 pm

A few years ago I worked, as a freelance sound engineer, monitoring levels outside the houses opposite a wedding venue, The local authority EHO stipulated that if music was audible that would be considered unacceptable. TBH I thought that was unreasonable but that was the decision he had made. The management had reacted aggressively to the complaints made by the residents when the venue first started which resulted in the EHO getting involved and the stringent conditions being required. Ultimately the venue closed.

A better approach to your situation might be to introduce yourself and explain that as their flat has been empty for a while you have become used to playing music without disturbing the (non-existent) neighbours. Ask them, if they are disturbed by your playing, to tell you and you will address the issue. That way they are less likely to sit on it for fear of upsetting or angering you until they can't stand it any longer and either blow up at you or contact the local authority.

Obviously this depends on them being reasonable but most people are and most people are more tolerant of somebody they know (however slightly) than of a complete stranger.
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:00 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:A better approach to your situation might be to introduce yourself

I guess that makes the most sense. I've got a good ice-breaker, "Hi. Bad news, you moved in below a musician. Good news, I don't play drums."
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:01 pm

:thumbup: :thumbup:

You never know, he might be a drummer himself :headbang:
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:02 pm

Sam Spoons wrote::thumbup: :thumbup:

You never know, he might be a drummer himself :headbang:

haha! "trance DJ", knowing my luck ...
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:03 pm

Always worth trying to be friends with the neighbours even if it's just at 'hello' in the hallway level.
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby wireman » Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:06 pm

Even if you don't introduce yourself (which could cause them to make an issue of this even if they don't really notice or care) you could be prepared.

I found this document which mentions some dBA values in relation to noise complaints.

So if you either introduce youself or if they complain you could offer to 'check that any sound leakage is within acceptable limits' by measuring it.
This could be with a sound meter or even a smartphone with something like the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App.
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Forum Admin » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:50 pm

One paragraph in that Govt guidelines document might give you a useful get out should they start complaining:

Statutory noise nuisance laws don’t apply to noise from:
.....premises occupied by the armed forces or visiting forces.


So, tell them you have a soldier friend staying with you? :headbang: [I'll get my coat...]
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Wonks » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:02 am

Hello sailor!
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Tim Gillett » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:18 am

I'm fortunate to live in a standalone house well separated from neighbours, so mostly no noise issues. But if I'm doing important work that needs careful attention to the sound, I use a good pair of headphones regardless. They just give clearer, less coloured sound. It allows me to hear things that I might not hear with the monitor speakers and it literally stops the noise pollution problem at source. I believe some here on the forum who work in sound also use headphones for critical listening.

Then when the boot is on the other foot (local neighbourhood sound might impede our ability to hear what we need to hear) we could try a pair of active noise reducing headphones.
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby ef37a » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:17 am

Yes, by all means try the friendly approach. A good friend of mine, sadly gone now, used to refurb houses and he always made a point of talking to next door and saying he WOULD be making noise during the day but he would pack up before 8pm or earlier if needed.

But then there is the "snob" factor! Some years ago I was involved in a check on a likely venue to move the "Amp Works" into. Out in the sticks but there was an office type building some 50mtrs away across a courtyard. A 4x12 was setup opposite with a 100W amp putting out some 110dB into the room. I had a wander with an SPL meter.

Over the way you could see the amp rig and JUST hear it through two double glazed windows. The office people were not happy. I pointed out that the printer/comms room fans were actually louder than "us" but that cut no ice. Obviously did not want "rock and roll oiks around the place!

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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:21 am

ef37a wrote:The office people were not happy. I pointed out that the printer/comms room fans were actually louder than "us" but that cut no ice. Obviously did not want "rock and roll oiks around the place!

They may not have wanted 'oiks' around the place... but to be fair, printer/comms fans generate a more or less constant noise which is not generally distracting, where as musical and rhythmic interludes, even at a lower level, can be distracting and even quite annoying over time!

H
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby ef37a » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:27 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:The office people were not happy. I pointed out that the printer/comms room fans were actually louder than "us" but that cut no ice. Obviously did not want "rock and roll oiks around the place!

They may not have wanted 'oiks' around the place... but to be fair, printer/comms fans generate a more or less constant noise which is not generally distracting, where as musical and rhythmic interludes, even at a lower level, can be distracting and even quite annoying over time!

H

Yeah. ...No, snobs!

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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:37 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:to be fair, printer/comms fans generate a more or less constant noise which is not generally distracting

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8I6qt_Z0Cg
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby jellyjim » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:40 am

ef37a wrote:Obviously did not want "rock and roll oiks around the place!

It's the strange ideas they bring with them that worries me. Strutting around wearing those hoochy-koochy pants and smoking them 'jazz cigarettes' :protest:
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Re: What is acceptable room volume and how would you measure it?

Postby Watchmaker » Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:34 pm

In the States, 90db measured at the point of complaint, outside of "daylight' hours is where many nuisance laws set the limit, and in several jurisdictions there's a requirement for two complainants to call the po-po in order to cause a response. That means it's gonna to be incredibly loud inside...Many leases have a "peaceful enjoyment" clause which is more troublesome though and the 70-74 db range might be over the limit if you have a bad neighbor. I once lived below a guy who worked nights when I was in college and even Mozart at "study listening levels" caused him much anger...

I'm a drummer and have run across this often. Far and away the best approach, as has been mentioned, is meeting your neighbor and negotiating a mutually acceptable space. Cookies are probably a fun way to keep the initiative! Failing that, sabotage might work to empty the lower flat...
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