Noise is a key quality-of-life problem for almost anyone living in a densely-packed urban environment. It's the bane of many a condo-dweller’s existence, and over the years engineers, architects, and designers have tried any number of ways to reduce the problem of noise in multifamily buildings—some more successfully than others. While noise is in the ear of the beholder, there are many products and techniques on the market to help mitigate the noise associated with condo living.
When Noise Annoys
As long as people have ears and the ability to use them and live in closed quarters with others, there will be problems with noise. It’s just human nature.
Will Cronin, president of Commercial Thermal Solutions in Spring Lake, New Jersey, says that there are two variables that affect noise: people hear noise differently and different tenants create noise differently so what irritates one person may not bother another. In community living, this can make the issue of noise especially difficult because it is so subjective.
Mandy Kachur, vice president of public relations for the Institute of Noise Control Engineering/USA, says, “Sounds that are transient, that come and go, that start and stop”—like hammering a nail into a wall—“or tonal noises, like whistles, tend to be more annoying than a steady broadband of white noise”—like the hum of a washer and dryer.
What distinguishes sound from noise, however, is the ear of the beholder. “Complaints arise from the noise that someone else is making,” says Kachur. “It doesn’t matter how much noise you make.”