There’s no doubt about it, you love music. Maybe you’re learning piano, or playing in a band, or hoping to audition for a spot in the brass section of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It’s your passion.
If you’ve moved into one of the nice apartments in Detroit, your neighbors want you to know: they think your musical passion is great, and they might even be willing to have you share it with them—but only on their terms.
The truth is, one person’s music is another person’s noise, and your musicianship might not always be welcome. How do you rehearse, or even just enjoy the music you make, without driving the neighbors nuts?
The Science of Sound
The first thing to understand is that sound travels. When you’re strumming on a bass guitar with your amp cranked up, the sound doesn’t just hit the wall and stop. As you probably know, sound waves are vibrations that move things. Bass frequencies, especially, can travel a long way through and past certain building materials.
It all depends on your building. Some of the luxury apartments for rent in Michigan are lofts in renovated industrial structures, with concrete floors and walls. If that’s your building, you’re in much better shape. Mass—in this case the heavy concrete—blocks the transmission of sound. But if the building’s internal structure is made of wood, the sound you make may travel much farther and be heard more readily by other tenants—even with any sound blocking materials added to the building.
If vibrations travel easily in your building, sound isolation should be your goal. If you’re serious you can build a booth or enclosure, using home improvement type materials as well as more exotic soundproofing products, that will isolate sound significantly. Staggered stud construction, double-layered gypsum drywall, mass-loaded vinyl, acoustical insulation and rubber isolation pads underneath make these enclosures work well (look for instructions and YouTube tutorials online).
If you have real money to spend ($5,000-plus) you can buy one of the commercially available sound booths from companies like WhisperRoom or Studiobricks. You can assemble these booths yourself, step in and jam to your heart’s content with greatly reduced sound transmission.
Maybe your concrete building provides a better sound situation. In that case, sound dampening may be enough to make you a good neighbor. Acoustical panels or “egg crate” foam on the walls will reduce reverberation, and acoustical curtains or “window plugs” will reduce sound escaping from your windows. You’ll know if you haven’t done enough if you start getting complaints from other tenants.
The Ultimate Solution: Go Electronic
Of course, it depends on the instrument you play, but in the electronic age there are non-acoustic alternatives. Digital pianos, electric guitars and electronic drum kits, for example, make it possible to rehearse and even record while wearing headphones, and without disturbing anyone nearby.
Whatever You Do, Be Considerate
Even if you’re observing good practices with sound isolation or acoustic treatments, your music making will be more tolerated on Saturday afternoon than at 11 p.m. Understand that other tenants have the right to enjoy their living spaces and all apartment amenities in peace—even without your music.