I am having a party and would like to keep disturbing neighbors to a minimum, but maximize the volume we can get away with.

I devised a quick n' dirty test plan to generate some frequency response comparisons to test the efficacy of acoustic dampening materials (ones designed to dampen bass).

I'm wondering if this test procedure can be simplified in any way. The party is soon so I've been planning out the whole process to make it simpler to execute in a few hours of work.

I feel like I'm missing something potentially obvious that could have to do with the kind of data I'm collecting.

Also, if anyone has any other interesting considerations or ideas I don't mention, I'd love to hear them.


Operator A initially stands in non-soundproofed basement with Bluetooth speaker in desired test location. Take note of volume setting on speaker and keep it constant throughout.

Operator B stands upstairs in desired test location with standard microphone and laptop with Audacity (with both sweep and sample loaded). Connect laptop via Bluetooth to the speaker. Take note of all gain settings and keep them constant throughout.


  1. Operator B starts recording upstairs next to basement door, simultaneously playing the 20s 1 Hz - 20 kHz sine sweep downstairs.
  2. Recording stops.
  3. Repeat 1-2 with music samples.
  4. Repeat 1-3 with standard microphone in {kitchen, living room, bedroom} (6 recordings total)
  5. Operator A soundproofs basement with bass dampening acoustic panels.
  6. Repeat 1-4 (12 recordings total)

Data processing

  1. Export all recordings labeled like: sweep_kitchen, sweep_livingroom, sweep_bedroom, sample_kitchen, sample_livingroom, sample_bedroom
  2. Import sweep audio data into Python
  3. Map freq list to timestamps of sweep
  4. Find relative loudness at each timestamp
  5. Generate 3 plots: loudness vs. frequency with and without dampening for each of {kitchen, living room, bedroom}
  6. Generate 3 more simple waveform plots showing peak loudness of music sample
  • $\begingroup$ Why push the limit when one annoyed neighbor could hold a grudge and make your life miserable a long, long, long time after the party is over ? Be conservative. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2021 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Probably a better fit for Engineering SE. Also you need to indicate the nature of the property - apartment, condo, sharing a wall with a neighbor, etc.. Also remember parking, people shouting their heads off as they enter or leave (or stand outside smoking and drinking). $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2021 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


If you really want to maximise the volume, explain this to the other residents. Ask them join the test - to listen and to tell you if they can hear it.

But remember, what might seem quiet to them in the daytime might seem loud if they are trying to sleep. So if they agree something, go for quieter than they agreed. Then you can enjoy the party with a clear conscience.

P.S. think about loud voices and banging too.

  • $\begingroup$ P.P.S.- try inviting the neighbors! and agree on a hard cutoff-time for the noise. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2021 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @niels nielsen good idea! $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2021 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ BTW I just bought a new sound level meter and will give away my old radio shack analog meter, these are handy to have to document the sound levels you produce, I'll mail it to you if you want. contact me at [email protected] $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2021 at 21:15

Here are some general considerations.

Noise control requires prevention of transmission through the walls and the provision of absorption inside the walled room. Unfortunately, bass frequencies penetrate ordinary walls readily and are the hardest frequencies to absorb inside the walls of a room.

Killing off the bass transmission through the walls requires that the walls be massive and absorbing the bass inside the walled room requires structures (baffles) that have length scales of order ~one wavelength of the frequency. 100Hz bass has a wavelength of about 10 feet which requires impractically big baffles; even professionally-built anechoic rooms have baffles about two feet deep as a compromise.

Finally, note that a ten foot high wall does little to stop a 10-foot wavelength which means that mass treatment of a room to minimize transmission needs to be applied to the ceiling as well as the walls.


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