When walls are the only separation between you and your neighbors, privacy sometimes goes out the window. People hear their next-door neighbors talking, footsteps from above or even music blaring through the walls. Sound transmission between units is one of the biggest complaints among condo dwellers. Noise can also come from ceilings, doors and windows, so living in a multifamily building could take some getting used to.
The frequency of sound is expressed in wavelengths per second or cycles per second (CPS), which is more commonly referred to as hertz (Hz). Low frequency noise is considered 250 hertz and below, while high frequency noise is 2000 Hz and above. Mid-frequency noise falls between 250 and 2000 Hz.
The amplitude of sound is expressed in decibels. This is a logarithmic compressed scale dealing in powers of 10 where small increments in dB correspond to large changes in acoustic energy.
While some noise in shared living spaces is normal, if you can clearly hear your neighbors’ conversations or TV through your walls or ceiling, you have a noise problem. If you’re willing to make the financial investment, there are innovative noise reduction solutions that can turn an older condo unit into a sanctuary of peace and quiet.
The most problematic waves are low-end frequencies—bass signals, in other words. If you can imagine the noise transfer you hear from a closed room,” says Keith Barkman, senior project manager at Sound Management Group in Hillsborough. “If you're in a closed room and you hear the conversation from another room. You probably won't hear the mid-range frequencies; you'll hear the lower range, bass frequencies of the voices.”