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#1
Old 05-01-2011, 12:51 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 779
Noise Ordinance questions

Note: You are not my lawyer. I am not asking for legal advice. If I want legal advice, I'll hire a lawyer. This is purely for informational purposes only given recent events.

I live in an apartment building which has 3 apartment units directly adjoining mine. One above me, one behind me, and one to the side of me off of my bedroom wall. The other two walls are my garage and the wall that looks out onto my patio/community property. Recently, while enjoying an evening of movies and video games, my upstairs neighbor called the police on me, claiming I was violating the noise ordinance in the City of Columbus on a regular basis and that she wanted it to stop. Now, this was news to me as I had not gotten a single noise complaint from her prior to this--not from her directly, our landlord's office, or the police. The police officer was incredibly understanding and only issued a warning instead of a citation and I immediately completely turned off what I suspect was causing the problem noise (powered subwoofer).

I'd like to at least occasionally use my subwoofer, but technically, Columbus' noise ordinance (Found Here) is in effect 24/7 according to the officer and I don't want to have to deal with a citation if I can help it. So, I'm trying to understand what exactly the noise ordinance actually means in layman's terms so I feel better about using my subwoofer.

For example, 2329.11 Section B-1 states that:
The maximum allowable hourly average sound level, emitted from any stationary sound source, auditory device, or sound amplification system shall not exceed the limits set forth in Table I for the respective categories of receiving land use.
which for a residential area is 60 decibels from 10p to 7a and 65 decibels from 7a to 10p as a maximum *average* sound level for a measured one hour period. However, there is a separate section C for defining "prohibited sounds" which states:
(C) Prohibited sounds:
(1) No person shall make or allow to be made any unreasonably loud and/or raucous noise in such a manner or at such a volume as to disturb the quiet, comfort, or repose of a person of ordinary sensibilities. Strict liability is intended to be imposed for this section.
(2) In addition to the prohibition set out in (C)(1), the following specific acts are declared to be in violation of this ordinance:
...
(b) Where there are two or more residential units contained within one structure within a property zoned residential, no person shall operate or permit the operation of any sound amplification system, auditory device, or stationary sound source in a manner as to be heard within said structure at a distance of 25 feet beyond the property line of the residential unit from which the sound emanates.
Strict liability is intended to be imposed for this section.
Does section B determine if a sound is prohibited or not (ie, if my sound is outputting an average level over an hour of 59.9 decibels, it is automatically legal no matter what), or can my neighbor still complain under section (C)(1) that the noise from my sound system is unreasonably loud even if it meets section (B)'s rule?

And is it 25 feet into my neighbor's apartment from my ceiling (or wall for the adjoining apartments on ground level) or 25 feet from the source of the sound? My reading of it has me leaning towards 25 feet from any given edge of my apartment, which technically puts the whole of her apartment within the 25 foot rule.

I really don't wanna be a jerk about this, but (IMO) the neighbor started this by calling the cops first instead of asking me to turn it down directly or even indirectly through the landlord and I want to be able to enjoy my property.
#2
Old 05-01-2011, 07:58 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,533
It is possible to purchase a sound meter that will give you the dB reading for the hallway when you turn on the sub-woofer, and you'll be able to see if it complies with the ordinance.

You'll also hear what your neighbors are hearing. Purely my opinion here, but it seems almost everyone on the planet who's bought an audio system of any power is completely unaware of what it sounds like out the back. You'll be treated to a legal (or not) volume level of Vzz Vzzz Vzzz Fwump Vzz Vzzz, which is pretty annoying. So you might see why someone might just want you to stop, rather than work with you in person.
#3
Old 05-01-2011, 08:12 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 26,589
Here's the thing, first off, you're going to have to enter you're neighbors apartment with the meter to be able to get a proper reading, at the point you're going to be a jerk if you tell them that you trying to set it one half decibel below what the law states is legal. I'd suggest, you just turn on some bass heavy music, crank up the volume to about where you like movies and then go up there and tell them that to avoid this in the future you'd like to adjust your subwoofer so they can't hear it. Hopefully, they'll be okay with this. Then it's just a matter of adjusting the volume and crossover on the sub and the volume on the main system until they can't hear it anymore.
Also, something I did while I was in an apartment was to pick up some of these. You'll need an amp for them (the same way your sub has a built in amp) and they bolt to the bottom of your couch or chair. With these you can turn your sub waaaay down but you'll still swear it was turned up. In fact, adjusted properly, guests won't even notice their installed, when they feel the faint rumbling, they'll just assume it's coming from the subwoofer.
#4
Old 05-01-2011, 10:32 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Southeast Florida USA
Posts: 20,768
When I lived in a high-rise condo we had a bulding CC&R whch required that all speakers be isolated from the floors & walls. This was to avoid coupling the floors & walls into the audio & thereby sending it all over the building.

You might try putting your subwoof on a folded beach towel or something similar. Don't block the output ports, but don't let it sit on any rigid surface either. You'll greatly reduce the noise you're transmitting outside your unit without sacrificing much of your own experence.

OTOH, IF
A) you live in a typical appartment &
B) you like either loud music or loud movies often &
C) you have a neighbor who expects near silence all the time, THEN

Those three are not compatible, period. One of the three needs to change. So you can either ...
A) Move.
B) Buy & use headphones.
C) Kill the neighbor.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 05-01-2011 at 10:34 AM.
#5
Old 05-01-2011, 10:58 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 19,905
I've been asked to leave my pad,
The neighbors are complaining and the landlord's mad.
I think I'll show those neighbors, though, before I go
What the sound is really like on a real stereo.
I'll give 'em 20,000 decibels:
The bass on the left channel,
Drums on the right channel,
The singing and the instruments over in the middle
Going, "Ahhhh..."

-- Spanky and Our Gang, Leopard-Skin Phones
#6
Old 05-01-2011, 03:47 PM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,890
You probably have no idea what a sub-woofer sounds like to people not listening to your music or watching your movies. It's one of the most annoying devices ever made. All you hear is whump, whump, buzzzzz, whump, whump, whump, buzzzz. Even if it's not painfully loud, it's just insanely annoying. I think they should be completely outlawed. Sometimes I think I'll go insane if I have to listen to one more subwoofer. There so damn cheap they are everywhere. I'll go to a restaurant with the music down low except for the sub woofer. Whump, whump, whump, buzzzzz. It's not even music, just a back drop of annoyance.

Last edited by fumster; 05-01-2011 at 03:47 PM.
#7
Old 05-01-2011, 06:41 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Aussie
Posts: 1,784
Around here the local police have given a nice handy tip on noise levels: Go outside with your doors and windows open - If you can hear (even the whump whump) your music outside (around a metre from you door) then it is too loud. This may not work in you case but I suspect that if you can hear your music from outside your front door then your neighbours can hear it also.

You have the right to listen too your music. Your neighbours also have the right to not have to listen to your music (and seriously there is nothing more annoying than doof doof whump whump)
#8
Old 05-01-2011, 08:57 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 26,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by madrabbitwoman View Post
Around here the local police have given a nice handy tip on noise levels: Go outside with your doors and windows open - If you can hear (even the whump whump) your music outside (around a metre from you door) then it is too loud. This may not work in you case but I suspect that if you can hear your music from outside your front door then your neighbours can hear it also.

You have the right to listen too your music. Your neighbours also have the right to not have to listen to your music (and seriously there is nothing more annoying than doof doof whump whump)
I had to call the cops on my neighbors many many times over their car stereos. They would pull the car into the back yard, open the doors and use that as the tricked out stereo system as their boombox all night. Since I stayed anonymous, it took several calls in order for the cops to actually catch them in the act.
At one point I was talking to a cop acquaintance of mine (in my city) and was asking him about the noise ordinance. He said WRT to a car stereo "If you can hear it, it's too loud"
#9
Old 05-01-2011, 09:33 PM
Shouting Grasshopper
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Meridian/280
Posts: 12,815
The subwoofer problem is indeed a bitch. I lucked out where I live...the people I share walls with are elderly and their hearing is pretty much shot. I can turn up my system to a decent "rumbling" level and I've never gotten a complaint yet. I've gone around and asked after watching something particularly bass-heavy, and my neighbors said they haven''t heard a thing.
#10
Old 05-01-2011, 10:42 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Inara's shuttle
Posts: 3,808
Quote:
Originally Posted by sh1bu1 View Post
You probably have no idea what a sub-woofer sounds like to people not listening to your music or watching your movies. It's one of the most annoying devices ever made. All you hear is whump, whump, buzzzzz, whump, whump, whump, buzzzz. Even if it's not painfully loud, it's just insanely annoying.
This. A thousand times, this.

The missus and I moved into an apartment after we sold the old house and the new house was being built. The very first night, we were exhausted from lugging boxes. We laid down in bed, and immediately started hearing whump, whump, whump. Our bedroom wall was right next to an extremely annoying neighbor who liked to listen to loud music and sit outside on his balcony -- right outside our bedroom window -- and chat on the phone. It was an extremely long 6 months with many walks next door in the middle of the night and calls to the apartment manager.
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