Apartment Drama

Hi- I recently moved from my house to a 2nd floor apt with 1 apt on each side and 1 below. 3pm today I turned my stereo on for the 1st time. Low volume IMO. Hard to describe but no problem having a conversation without even raising my voice. within 10 minutes my neighbor knocked on my door acting irratated demanding I turn the volume down. WTF? Now what. Do I have any rights or do I have to obey this jerk?
Does your complex have rules about noise? Usually there are rules limiting noise to certain hours. You should be within your rights to play music at moderate volume at 3pm. It's up to you. Does the neighbor own guns?
The speakers on the floor will do it.
First thing is to get the speakers OFF the floor. Cardboard boxes may do, if filled with newspaper.
Basically besides that, You can turn it down. A lot.
You may have no choice but to move if you keep it up.

If your downstairs/nextdoor neighbor has lived there a long time, and is friends with the owner/manager(s)... You may face eviction. As short as 24 hours if you have a lease with clauses for eviction.(and disturbing your neighbors is a reason)

Otherwise you still will have an endless series of confrontations. If that person is friends with others in the building they ALL may start complaining.

I have lived in apartments my whole life.
And can say noise can drive a person to shot you.
If you want to stay and fight. then you are in for Hell. But maybe you can. If you realize now you have to get along instead of having your own way.

Generally it is not worth it.
Move out.
If you like to play loud ... find a corner apt on the first floor of the building (or another building).
Usually the first floor 'floor' is concrete, and the upper floors wood in most 2 or 3 story apt buildings.

I am totally willing to kick the ass of people making a lot of noise. (and have been in two hard fights over noise coming from apt above mine. So I KNOW. And I have no sympathy for you.

I live in a 'over 55' building which is totally quiet. I have Magnepan 3.6 and Byston 4B-SST² and play music every day all day long. Seven years of playing music..
After 7 years the manager has said he has NEVER heard a peep from my apt nor about me making noise from neighbors.
The problem is bass. too much bass. It is ALWAYS the bass.
CUT THE BASS and you might get by. If you love baass, and DO own those "Gut Massage 2000" sort of speakers. Change speakers.. buy some MMG Maggies.

But I have myself complained several times about 'new move ins' down the hall (not even NEXT to my apartment) making a racket. I can hear their bass thumping four doors away... usually they are gone in a few months.. They do not 'fit'.

I play at 55dB to 70dB with a Radio Shack meter. "C" weighting from seated position away from speakers.

Try getting a sound level meter and see just how loud you are?
What you think is nothing may be 95dB and your "Gut Massage 2000" brand speakers are thumping the Hell out of your walls and floor.

Everyone has the right to privacy within their home. Including apartments. If your noise disturbs others, then you are at fault.
If you think you have 'rights' to disturb the people around you in THIER own home. Well maybe you WILL get a bullet or two? The Cops coming(which any building owner HATES. Tenants call the cops and the reason gets kicked OUT fast.

An alternative is to switch to headphones while you look for a new place.

Others will certainly tell me where to get off. But like I wrote, I have lived in aparments all my life. That is not a house. You are NOT king of your castle. You are a new tenant making problems. You will not last long before they either drive you out, shoot you, or get you to be a 'nice' neighbor.
I suggest getting with the program instead of complaining.

But I bet you are evicted within 30 days..
Keep playing. Insist on your 'rights'.. LOL

added: Right now I am listening to some hard rock, after Midnight.. on my headphones.
Also folks who are used to apartment life know right off when someone is gonna need to be told to 'turn it down'. YOu moved in and withing a few days you are annoying. This is bad. YOu are new, and HAVE no rights. All you have are obligations. To be polite, to be quiet. Most folks who have lived in apartments have done so for YEARS. (I'm at 7 years here. Prior was 17 years, in one apartment)
So anyone coming in is going to get hassled for problems way more than an old tenant would. The tip of the iceberg. You make noise and no one says anything? Then when do they say something? When it is too late and you are rocking out at 3AM?
Headphones usually have capabilities to provide better definition and imaging and the best piecefull solution.
My other solution would be to advice neighbors to appear next time knocking at your door with presence of police officer(s) only. Cops less-likely will open the case or even will care to arrive for minor neighbor troubles thus leaving your neighbor 'grouchy' and somewhat 'upset' and probably seeking some mental help. Had similar neighbor by myself always knocking at my door and complaining about my noisy kids playing in the middle of the day.
While you being PIA to your neighbors you can always place your speakers on cardboard boxes as Elizabeth suggested. I found Egg boxes work best and somewhat as good as dedicated speaker stands.
What was the decibel level you were listening at?

Talk to your neighbor. Find out if there's a real problem with the sound or if it's something else. A few people are totally unreasonable nearly all the time, but most people are kinda' nice if you're nice to them.

BTW, when I rented I would always tell the landlord that I play music often and loudly. I don't think I ever lost out on an apartment because of it, but the landlords were thankful and sometimes made special arrangements for me.
Most apartments are made like crap with little insulation, let alone any sound proofing. As folks have pointed out here getting things off the floor will help, but my experience has been that certain types of speakers are just not apartment friendly. Yours maybe one of them. Elizabeth found that Maggie's (and headphones) do the job for her. For me it was a pair of Quad's. Both provide great sound and just the right amount of base. In the Quad's case the technical limits on volume become a positive for apartment life. I'm running the Quad's with a 20 watt tube amp and love the result. Consider changing your speakers first. If that doesn't work and headphones are not an option- as much as it going to suck moving might be the best thing to do.

Good luck
I lived in apts my whole life and hated those neighbors with the thumping coming thru the building. Now that I have a house I can be lord of the manor.
Elizabeth has it right, it's the bass, you'll never be able to use cabinet spkrs in that apt. Maybe some small monitors on strands like totems. But she has a proven solution...why not give some Maggies a try. And a good set of headphones for late night listening.

But you will never be able to crank it up again in this current apt.
When I lived in an apartment the issue I had was with my subwoofer. It drove my neighbors a little batty so I turned down the bass a tad and then put thick carpets under it. I also changed the placement a little bit. Also like Onhwy61 said what decibel level are you listening at?

Another thing to make peace with your neighbor is to maybe invite them for a listening session. Have them bring over some music they enjoy and listen together over a couple of beers.
Sad to say, your listening days without headphones have come to an end, at least until you move. Elizabeth has all the issues covered. Best to just give it up until you can move to a free standing house, rented or owned. With all the recent forecloses that were purchased by investment pools, it will not be too difficult to find. The bonus in doing so is the ability to get a dog/cats, as long as you have landlords accepting of same.
I disagree with Elizabeth only to a certain extent. Yes, we all have a right to
privacy in our apt.; however, everyone that chooses to (or has to) live in an
apt. has an obligation to remember that, because it is an apt, one cannot
expect the kind of absolute privacy that one gets in a private house. Both
sides need to be reasonable and compromise. That is not to say that you
will persevere in this case, but I would start by presenting yourself as
reasonable and fair to your neighbor: tell him that you are concerned and
want to find a solution. Ask him to allow you to go to his apt in order to
hear what it is he is hearing (while your stereo plays from above at a
normal level). Be reasonable and put yourself in his shoes; maybe the
problem is real. If he is being totally unreasonable because what he is
hearing is truly subtle and very distant sounding, then talk to him and try to
reason with him. If he is completely unreceptive then personally I would
escalate things to reliance on what the local ordinances mandate; but,
always take the high road and avoid nastiness as much as possible. If
there really is a problem (put your own bias aside as much as possible),
then tell him you are working on finding a solution and would appreciate
some patience while you do so. Then try some of the remedies that will be
recommended and possibly ask the neighbor about your respective
schedules; there may be times of the week when he is not around and you
are and you can rock out. Invite him over to listen to your stereo; keep
things friendly as much as possible. Good luck.
If this person has non-traditional sleeping hours, that may account for why 3 pm was a problem. You really do need to investigate, as described above, to find out how much of a problem your system is really causing.

If the problem apartment is the one below, you might reduce some of the transmitted sound by using an isolation platform under the speaker to absorb vibrations (don't use cones that couple the speaker/stand to the floor.

Dipole speaker so a much better job of focusing the soundfield to a listening area between the speakers. This is because the opposite front and rear polarity causes cancellation at the sides. The large panel types also act like a line source which means that sound levels do not fall off as much for any given distance between the listener and the speaker; that means you can play with lower overall sound energy in the room (again because the sound is concentrated at the listener). I went from dipole speakers to regular dynamic speakers and the difference in sound that leaks thoughout the house was startling. You could look at something like Magnepan 1.7s which are line-type dipoles and don't produce too much bass.

Small stand-mounted speakers will also reduce the amount of bass energy and that might also do the trick. I would look at something like Proac Tablettes.

There is not much one can do in the way of room treatments that would really work. If your place is not carpeted, a thick carpet, particularly with a good pad underneath, will cut down on floor transmission of sound. Make sure all doors are closed and tightly sealed when you play your system to minimize the amount of sound that goes into other rooms of your place.

Good luck.
GOtta resp[ect your neighbors, right or wrong.

You sound like a prime candidate for a nice set of headphones! Less cost and headaches to achieve top notch sound to boot.

A nearfield setup with stand mounted monitors would be the other safer way to go to minimize impact to neighbors.
I think some of you guys are being a little premature. Listening days without cans have come to an end? Without even first trying some of the possible technical or social remedies? I don't think so. Maybe the neighbor was having a bad day. Maybe it was the initial shock of hearing music for the first time where there had been none. Maybe the OP was excited about the new digs and was playing music a little louder than he would otherwise without realizing it. Maybe all it takes is a tiny reduction in volume (or one of the recommended remedies); sometimes all it takes is a small turn of the volume knob for the volume to go from acceptable to annoying to a neighbor. You still have some options; give them a shot.
Elizabeth, I gotta hand it to ya'…You are one badass audiophile!
I'm with those that feel you CAN live in an apt. and be an audiophile. But it's a learning process. I've owned homes but currently I rent an apt. BTW, owning a condo can be equally frustrating, same set of problems except you CAN'T just up and move! Some of the best systems I've ever heard have been in friend's apts! Your audio needs MUST be taken into account when looking for an apt. I find that most apts. built in the last 10-15 yrs are simply flimsy. They may look great and modern, but springy floors and wood/plaster walls not only make for shitty sound but you usually can hear your neighbors when they fart (amongst other things!). My apt. is a ground floor corner, built in the 90's, carpeted concrete floors, walls are cement filled concrete block. The only wall I share in my listening room is the ceiling. One of the 1st things I did when I moved in was to fire up the system to a decent volume, and than go outside to hear how loud it was from OUTSIDE the apt! Luckily, it was barely audible! I also got to know my upstairs neighbor and asked him if my tunes were too loud and he sez he's never been bothered by it. Granted, I don't ever turn it up to wall-bulging levels anymore, and I don't listen past midnight (I own cans for that!). I've got to admit though, I don't use the rig as much as I used to. Prior to this I rented a house, on an acre, by myself, in Georgia. Man, those were the days, rockin' hard into the wee hours of the morning!;) Hate to say it but it sounds like you're in a worst case scenario, thin walls and a fussy neighbor!
I have lived in apartments for over 20 years,all over the country and always with a fine stereo.And whenever this happens I always calmly say that Im sorry about the noise then after I go back inside I turn it up just a little louder so they get the message that I dont care how they feel about my music @3pm or any other time. This will result in 1 of 2 things ...they will stop complaing to you and leave you alone OR they will MOVE! Either way you win. I would not worry about this at all. Play your system!
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Tell them you have a hearing disability and would like to get a subwoofer. Bring them in and go on line and see if they like Wilson or Magico. If you throw a whole bunch of confusion at micro managers they tend to go away. Once they find out they can't control you, they will learn to simply live next to you.
I'm an apartment dweller too and mostly try to accomodate my neighbors. I have my speakers spiked to a maple butcher block that lays on the carpet. It's a semi-open baffle design so I have some wool rug carpeting on the wall behind each speaker. I try to remmeber to close all the doors and shut my window.

It also helps that my speakers roll off at around 40 Hz but I still get great tuneful base and my neighbors have yet to complain. There are even times when I forget to close the window and regret indulging my neighbors with my eclectic musical tastes and still no compalints (for the last several years)

Maybe I'm lucky in that most folk realize the compromises of apartment life. Heck, with everything imaginable accounted for, I can go out and clearly hear my music with the window closed and it's not at all loud but that's with single plane glass. Maybe the walls and the steps I've taken are enough. All you can do is try.

All the best,
I would agree that the bass is very probably the issue. Even what seems like a very little to you could very well be a real problem downstairs. I would consider moving to a first floor apartment.
One thing you might do is cultivate a library of music you enjoy that doesn't contain loud bass or drums. Solo guitar, solo piano, piano/guitar, string quartet, solo violin. There's really tons of stuff once you start looking. Assuming you're not a metal-head or something like that. There's even a lot of jazz without loud bass. Most of the Bill Evans records seem to go fairly light on the bass. You also do have to get used to listening lower than you might like. I suggest you try an experiment. Start listening at a level you consider "too soft" and sit for a few minutes listening. Then walk out of the room and come back with the music at the same volume and sit back down. You might find it's loud enough. Good luck. You know - to a lot of people, the complaining thing is more about power than anything else. They are usually powerless a-holes that now think they have a chance to flex their muscles. I would ask (nicely) if you could go into their apartment while the music is playing to see what they're hearing so you can come to some agreement. There HAS to be some level of music they can tolerate. If they refuse, you can be pretty sure they're just being pricks. But if not, you might find there's a lot of music you can play without annoying them.
" Thats a bummer kick his ass!!"

Yeah, either be a good neighbor or do that. :-)

YOur choice....
A person's right to smoke ends at my nose. A person's right to music in an apartment ends at my ear. If it is truly anoying, such as loud bass thumping music, that is a problem. I work from home at times (telecommute, it is wonderful) and loud music from neighbors wouldn't be cool. I own a house with three layers of plaster on each wall so sound isn't a problem. But, Elizabeth is correct. If it disturbes the neighbors, then you are in the wrong. If you live in an apartment, all it will take is a couple of complaints to the manager/owner and you will get a cure notice and then an eviction notice. Then try to find another apartment with an eviction on your record. It isn't easy. I own apartments and that is what I would do. Some people really do value their quiet homes and environment. I really don't like it when people feel that just because they like their music very loud, that they don't care that it may disturb others. In cars, homes, etc. Rudeness has become the norm now. Where people actually think they can do and say what they want and really don't think or care about others. Not talking about the OP, but people in general. Turn it down, find out what hours the neighbors are home and listen when they aren't, get to know them and discuss music and maybe they will come to agree or like you and let it slide. Or, get a really nice headphone amp and some nice headphones. Or move. Low bass is basically non directional. So, it projects anywhere and since all one will hear is the anoying bass without any mids and highs, because the mids and highs are directional and are pointing at you and not them, then yes, it can be anoying.

Good luck trying to find an APARTMENT that is peaceful with well built construction.Most of the time your going to have kids thumping or womans heels on hard surface flooring above you. IMHO anyone who lives in a apartment should expect to put up with all kinds of noises...That's why I have a stereo ..so I don't have to hear all this crap!
ITs true that noise to some degree is inherent in many or even perhaps most apartment buildings.

So its a two way street. You can probably expect to get away with making as much noise as you hear associated with any particular neighbor. That's a fair exchange. It takes two to be good neighbors and decide what works best case by case.

Or just kick their ass as EBM suggests and be done with it.
I am so glad I do not live in an apartment anymore. It was awful. There are two behavioral expectations at odds here.
1. I will be quiet and trust you to offer me the same courtesy.
2. I will be noisy and allow you to be noisy if you want to be.
Which one is yours?
You want to have some noisy neighbors; kick their asses and go to jail*. I haven't found a quiet one yet! (*been there/done that/got the slides)
Bass (low bass) in an adjacent apartment can sound HUGE compared to your room. And, in your room, you could certainly have conversations while your bass was pumping out without noticing it. This happened to me once when I bought my first Velodyne back in 1996. I could barely hear the bass (it was probably balanced in room) but my neighbor said it was extremely boomy, and as others have said recommended I elevate it off the floor. Ever since then I have done my best to NOT live in an apartment.
I have lived in apartment buildings all my life as well (until my own home, now) and, gotta say, my apartment was MY CASTLE and I have the absolute right to enjoy my property - provided I do not disturb others. Apartment bldgs don't have house rules (as do condos or coops - house rules is a legal document and part of a contact, not it a sheet you type up and past in the hall for everyone to obey) so what applies is your city's (or town) ordinance against noise, usually of which is it 11 PM. Observe it and the common law cant touch you.

so, if you don 't mind your neighbors not liking you, if you don't mind investing in a new steel door with incredible deadbolts (because they will try breaking in the door during Sabbaths "Fairies Wear Boots", if you don't mind petitions being circulated about evicting you - you can enjoy your music as loud as you wish without breaking the law (you MUST be CERTAIN of what the law is, and be certain that the cops who come to your home know what it is - and yes, an apartment is STILL YOUR HOME!). Then, you need to be aware of any particulars (I would not want to be sued by the parents of a handicapped 3 year old). So, once you have all of this, you are not penalized in AMERICA for liking music, having big amps (and speakers) but not buying a house.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not require ownership of real property.

where is my manifesto?
Sorry Cerrot, Leases do have 'house rules'. And can have severe penaties for noncompliance. Including eviction.
Even leaving your car unused in a parking space.. even not wrapping your garbage/not sorting recyclables.. having too many 'guests'.. required to have a phone..limited ability to have pets.. (all of these 'rules' are enforced in my lease)
Plenty of rules you agree to when you sign the lease.
And making noise is one of those rules.
Agree with Elizabeth. I used headphones almost exclusively when I was in an apartment complex. Had speakers, but used them very rarely. Other than headphones, her method of Maggies/panels (no sub, obviously) on the terrace level/slab part of the building in the corner, combined with very moderate listening levels, is THE way to go for an audiophile stuck in a complex.

The 1st downside to this is higher risk of theft (ground-floor windows, and especially if facing the woods) -- I experienced this myself. The 2nd downside is high exposure to noise from your upstairs neighbor. At the time my upstairs neighbors were ALL very reasonable/quiet (this is a very lucky occurrence, and not to be expected), so the terrace-level apt I had was pretty decent living until I got broken into.

After the break-in I moved to the top-floor (4th), which was just awful. Modern complexes are built so cheap, that by the time you get to the top floor you feel like you're in a treehouse; no rigidity anywhere. Even if you try to run speakers, they will sound like crap. You may have to deal with unreasonable people below you (e.g. calling police over the sound of WALKING). And you're still not immune to gobs of awful sound coming from below (e.g. high idiots with a subwoofer).

These are the compromises of apt complex living. They are not designed for most audiophiles' needs.
Consider getting a pair of Auralex Gramma isolation platforms to put your speakers on. They will isolate the speaker from the floor and keep the bass from bleeding into the next apartment while allowing the speaker to project into your room. You would still need to be sensible about volume levels as well. They are about $50 each and work well. It is a minimal investment to keep the peace. The headphone idea also makes a lot of sense.
David99, what's the latest? Have you been tunes-free for four days or has your neighbor calmed down a bit?
Headphones or move to a more soundproof building, I went through the same shit, never again.

Living in close quarters breeds contempt, especially when others work different shifts.

Yes, there are time rules, but that doesn't mean banging drums, loud mufflers, barking dogs and screaming kids till 10:59pm, that don't fly either.

I found an "end unit" condo with a slightly deaf lady next door and backyard woods!
Good luck! Glad I do not live in an apt anymore.
Something else to consider is that it's possible to partially sound-proof your place.

If you have hardwood floors, you need to set up some layers under your speakers. Step one, go to a flooring shop and get carpet samples. Thick Berber or Frisse works well. You want to cover the area under your speakers or stands. Double stacking the samples is often a good idea. Above the carpet you'll want to put Marble Samples. 1/4 inch thick is good; stacking to 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch is better. If you have a sub, you might want a full inch. On top of the marble you'll want to put heavy duty stands such as sound anchors.

These approaches seem to work for me, along with some strategic planning. I'm in a third floor condo in a city that requires concrete for the first two floors. Thus, my downstairs neighbor's ceiling (and my floor) is concrete. My upstairs neighbor is the HOA President, and my South-Wall neighbor is the HOA Secretary. I have no North-Wall or East-Wall Neighbors.

My sub is 4 inches from my North Wall, and rests on 1/2 inch of marble in a room with wall to wall frisse carpeting. My speakers stands are Sound Anchors, and are all against the East-Wall in every room, except the bedroom, where they are against the North-Wall. My East-Wall faces outside, so only Up/Down neighbors are potentially affected. In the bedroom, the bookshelf speakers are on tall dresser cabinets and over 50 inches off the floor. After 10PM, the volume goes WAY down. Also, FWIW, extensive headphone use tends to give me tinnitus, so I only use speakers.

I've been in my current place 8 years, and so far there's been not a peep from the neighbors about the sound systems.

At the same time, I've noticed that some of the the neighbors will consistently bang on the walls every night at 7PM. At first I found this REAL annoying. Now, I pretty much just ignore them and continue with practicing on my bagpipes until 9PM.
Matmiller....boo to you
Guys, this is America. Guess what? I am allowed to blast my big amps and speakers as long as I don't do it late at night.

and, it doesn't matter if you own or rent. You can own a house next door to a renter and do you not think he will tell you to lower your music? Of course he will. This is very misunderstood and always handled incorrectly because when the cops come to your door (or the an angry neighbor), you are totally unprepared. have your dB meter and copy of the ;aw handy and tell the cops to tidy up the walk on their way back to their car. I lived in Brooklyn NY in apartments with BIG speakers and loud amps from when I was 14 years old to 35 years old. I have had my door pushed in by a neighbor (the police almost arrested HIM).
Cerrot...back then In brooklyn you lived in a building that was not new-
construction as did I; plaster and wood walls which helps keep the sound
in. Not great for accoustics, but it can be treated. As a teenager I practiced
drums every day with minimal complaints; but I did it at a resonable hour. I
think neighbors were a lot more tolerant than they are today.

David99... you are located in the worst possible area of your building. You'll
have to make nice with the neighbors if u are to play music in the way in
which u are accustomed. If it was me I would get new spkrs.
Earphones or move. Actually, you can get better sound from good earphones/dedicated amp than speakers anyway.
+1 to Frogman's first post dated 4-3-14.

I would suggest to a couple of others who have responded that behaving at the limits of what is legally permissible will not necessarily be in anyone's best interests over the long term. In this and in most other situations that involve co-existing with others.

-- Al
+2(Frogman's 4-3 post). You will always catch more flies with honey then vinegar! Whenever you have unhappy people in a confined living area any disturbance will usually be blown out of proportion. My best advice is try to politely reason with this person, if to no avail be the first to contact the property manager regarding the issue. This should give you the advantage(with management)with any future conflicts.
So do you use honey to catch the flies and then kill them with the vinegar?
Long overdo update. Sold the big floorstanders, bought some Grado cans and a tube amp and couldn't be happier. And the neighbor is still an ass !
See, you should have kept your system the way it was and %^&* the neighbor!!
Yea! What does Liz know.
I, like Liz, live in a Senior development. Been here for 21 years this year. I've had a music system ever since I moved in. Sometimes I play at pretty high volumes.  I communicate with my neighbors from time to time to ask them if my music ever bothers them. Almost all of them tell me that they never hear it. So ... all is good. But then it occurred to me that most of my neighbors are so old they can't hear well.

That's what happens when you live in a Senior development where the average age is deceased. 
david99, I am sorry to hear it. I understand, you cannot really move. People are different. I used to have a neighbour below who was a nice man playing bass guitar from time to time. When he was doing it more than, say, two hours straight, I knocked on his door and said that that was enough for today. But next day I could blast the damn building with Mahavishnu Orchestra and he was silent. But I never play loud music longer than one record at a time, and I mean at a daytime and early evening. When he recently moved, not because of me, some quiet people moved in. Well, sometimes they make some noise by jumping or whatever, I don't care because it doesn't last long. But yeah these modern apartments are built like shacks in this respect, many old ones too, by the way.

where do you reside? why do you live in an apt ?

Keep me posted & Happy Listening!