Skip to main content


Why a decoupled ceiling might not eliminate all noise

A decoupled ceiling might eliminate most of the noise between floors, but not all of it.   If you're thinking of decoupling a ceiling in your home or apartment, you might not eliminate all the noise between two floors. This doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. It means that resolving noise issues in your home might be an iterative process. Because after you address one noise source, you might discover another one. Noise paths A noise path is how a noise enters another space. For example, this could be through the air or through a thin wall, through the joists and studs in a building frame, through a wall outlet, or through a vent. You might soundproof one noise source only to realize afterwards that there were other points of entry for that noise. So if you're thinking about removing your existing ceiling and decoupling it with soundproofing materials, keep in mind that some types of noise might be coming from different sources via different paths. You might reduce o
Recent posts

How to measure decibels and frequency with the Decibel Meter app

 Frequency matters When you're dealing with a noise issue, the frequency of that noise is just as important as the decibel level. A decibel is the loudness of the sound, and measuring decibels can alert you when a sound is more than just a nuisance, but dangerous to your health. However, decibel levels on their own don't tell the whole story. The frequency of the sound is also very important. The frequency is a measure of how many sound waves per second are produced by a sound, and determines its pitch. A low-frequency sound might be really annoying, but it might not be that loud. The lower frequencies are typically below 150 Hz, and often sound like a deep bass sound that's not necessarily loud, but the vibrations from that sound can travel through the entire frame of a building and disrupt sleep or cause stress. Knowing both the decibel level and the frequency of an unwanted sound can help you determine the right soundproofing solution. For example, a low-frequency nois

How to measure decibels with the NIOSH sound level meter app

For a quick lesson on how to use the NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) app to measure decibels and noise, check out my latest Soundproofist  video. This handy app is free, although only available for iOS devices right now. It's a great app to use if you want to measure average and maximum noise levels with either A-weighted or C-weighted decibels. You can save each measurement as a report. Learn more about measuring noise and about soundproofing from  Soundproofist . Download the free NIOSH app from the App Store and learn more about it from this CDC documentation .

Soundproofist podcast episode: an interview with Dr. Antonella Radicchi (Hush City app)

Participate in citizen science: learn how to map the quiet spaces where you live Dr. Antonella Radicchi is an architect, a researcher, and a soundscape urbanist. As part of her work, she developed an app called "Hush City." You can get it from the App Store (for iOS) or from Google Play (for Android). When you're at a quiet place -- a street, a park, a beach, a path -- you can take note of it with the Hush City app. Make a recording, take a photo, and upload it to the Hush City map , and include your notes about your experience so you can share it with others. By mapping the quiet areas, you can also help urban planners to be aware of -- and protect -- these spaces. Listen to the conversation with Antonella Radicchi here.

D.I.Y. sound panels and studio hacks

Inexpensive D.I.Y. sound panels for home studios Looking for acoustic ideas for your home studio? YouTube has plenty of D.I.Y. videos for controlling sound and adding absorption. If you're running a business (especially a restaurant), you need to buy professional, fire-rated sound control panels that conform to local codes. You might also need to speak with an acoustics expert. But for home projects, you might need only a quick hack for a small room. These four videos show a range of materials. Notice that I didn't include any that use fiberglass batts because you don't want those tiny glass fibers coming through the fabric. This video from DIY Perks shows how you can repurpose some old towels into a sound-absorbing panel.: And this guy from JT Guitar leaves no stone unturned as he details everything you need to build sturdy wood-framed panels with insulation in them, including the shopping trip, the tools you need, the measurements (special bonus: metric

More about restaurant noise

Does extreme restaurant noise ruin your dining experience?  Personally, I get really frustrated if I have to yell in a restaurant or when I have to strain to hear the person sitting across from me. I keep track of particularly obnoxious restaurants and try to avoid them. You can also use an app called SoundPrint to see the loudness of a venue (in decibels) on a map. Recently I decided to start a podcast called about noise, acoustics, and sound solutions, and the first episode focuses on restaurant noise. In this episode, I visit some restaurants and record what it's like trying to hold a conversation at 85 decibels or above. Then I contrast those environments to a restaurant with sound absorbing panels on the ceiling. The panels really made a difference. Finally, I interview the president of Audimute  and we talked about how their acoustical consultants deal with different environments like loud restaurants -- and about some of their sound-panel options. You can  subsc

Restaurant noise: how much is too much?

I went out for dinner this weekend at a tapas restaurant. The food was great, and the ambiance could have been great, too, if the restaurant had taken some steps to reduce noise. After all, going out for Spanish tapas should evoke feelings of pleasure, relaxation, great flavors, and a general "chilled out" environment. However, like many trendy eateries, the floors and walls were made of hard surfaces, and the sound just bounced and amplified. Every table was full of patrons -- which was great, of course. But when we walked in, we were greeted to a blast of noise. We had to yell at our table to hear each other. So I pulled out my mobile phone and checked one of my decibel-reader apps. It was 88.8 decibels. This article from Restaurant Engine states that normal conversation ranges from 55 to 65 dB, conversation gets difficult at 75 dB, and noise becomes "damaging" at 85 dB. Yet our table was clocking in at over 88 dB when we were just sitting across from each ot