Noise complaints about bass

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by PortlandME, May 6, 2021.

  1. Acceptable dB(C) bass levels

    16 vote(s)
  2. dB(C) bass levels too high for residential neighborhoods

    2 vote(s)
  1. PortlandME


    May 6, 2021
    To have an venue both outside and inside, what dB(C) bass level should I have so I don’t disturb neighbors? Bass levels seem to be a major issue. What can I tell them that the sound would be comparable to so they understand? Ty
    zon6c-f likes this.
  2. danster

    danster Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    Connecticut, USA
    Your town or city may have noise limits.
    As far as Bass Levels - that seems subjective, dependent on someones opinion.
  3. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The answer to this is....not at all simple from the perspective of building and/or running a venue. You can't just put forth a number of how loud you can be in your place - it's how loud it is at the neighbors' place(s) that counts.

    The inverse square law is your biggest friend - you can make a lot of noise without any special acoustical treatment if you're a few miles from the nearest neighbors. If your neighbors are close, it gets very tricky (and usually expensive) to isolate things. A venue in the basement of a building is much easier to isolate than one above ground, assuming the windows to the venue are treated, because the sound has to get through the floor of the first level and then the outer walls - you have two levels of isolation to begin with.
    zie likes this.
  4. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    First thing is to determine what noise levels you are curently at.
    Download a Decibel level meter, I use Decibel10th (free download).
    Check you city's acceptable db levels then check the level at the property line and go from there as far as adjusting to acceptable legal levels allowed in your area.

    FWIW (for comparables) when my immediate neighbors are mowing thier lawns, weed whacking, blowers, the db reading is a little bit higher at my property than my drum kit or bass is.

    Bass levels are a bit trickier because they probably 'feel it' as much as 'hear it' (bass being non directional) that being said a db meter would be good place to start. Good luck!
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
    legalbass likes this.
  5. PortlandME


    May 6, 2021
    The city doesn’t take bass levels into account and that is what most residents complain about.
    Road Hat and Goatrope like this.
  6. Goatrope

    Goatrope Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    Yes. They take a measurement with their meter at the perimeter of the property from where the noise is coming.

    So, are you asking what is an acceptable db reading for the volume of your bass according to your neighbor?

    When I’ve dealt with this issue with the police, they adhere to the city ordinance regardless of the nature of the complaint. The complaint may read “bass is too loud”, but the meter doesn’t know the source.

    Unfortunately, many cities have a db limit that equates to laughter. So in our case, the “noise” can’t be louder than 65db after 10pm. Pretty tight.
    C Stone likes this.
  7. Get a permit for your shows?
  8. It's not a party until the cops show up to tell you to turn it down! :thumbsup:
  9. JeezyMcNuggles


    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    According to my db meter, sitting still outside reads 45 to 60 db. Me beat boxing at low levels reads 98. Me talking to myself reads 84.
    MattZilla and Goatrope like this.
  10. And herein lies the problem; the whole thing becomes entirely subjective. "Too loud" is when can be when the complainer just doesn't like the music, the time it's being played or the audience it attracts, regardless of how in compliance it is. Some municipalities will side with the venue who is absolutely in compliance with the local statutes at the time, but be prepared for those to change when they don't suit the surrounding neighborhood, no matter how much money is spent on the venue, prior to that change. The best thing would be to get to know your venue's residential neighbors and find out who they are and what is acceptable to them. Still no guarantee you won't get complaints, but if you want to go forward with it, you'll have an idea of what you're up against.
    C Stone, longfinger, gebass6 and 2 others like this.
  11. PortlandME


    May 6, 2021
    Yes. Allowed 55 decibels at property line. Neighbors don’t complain about “how loud the music is...just the bass” which they find more disturbing.
  12. Your 3 options appear to be compromise, war, or closing down shop. My best advice is to get a permit. This is an "eff off" piece of paper that is not subjective. Good luck!
  13. alex1fly


    Feb 5, 2008
    Check your municipal code. Most have a maximum allowable decibel listing. My city measures decibels at the edge of the right-of-way for a certain amount of minutes (5?) to determine noise violations. My neighbor used to complain about my noise, so I took a decibel meter to the edge of the right-of-way and measured sounds until I found my maximum volume.

    That's just my city, though. Every city does it in their own way. You can also check with your city's Code Enforcement folks.
    C Stone likes this.
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Common sense is your best friend. If you become a chronic pain in someone’s south end, you may stir up unintended consequences. If you stir up the wrong person, you could find yourself zoned out of business.
  15. I use boxes with headphones: Silent practice; no disturbance period !

    And you don’t want to advertise to passerby’s who may take note that if they hear it.. they may “want” it

    silence is security imho
  16. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Cut the Lows and turn down the Gain a bit.
  17. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North

    I used to do this when running sound. I did my best to keep things from going any louder than 95dB - in the middle of the venue or at the bar (source of most “turn it down”/“too loud” complaints).

    Bass freqs are more difficult to tame. If those are the types of complaints you’re getting from neighbors, might be time to get a consult from an acoustical engineer.
    C Stone likes this.
  18. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    This. Noise levels and dB measurements don’t mean anything. If a neighbor complains, the authorities are compelled to do something about it. They respond, and even if the dB level is compliant, the complainant can still hear it and they will still complain. It’s a no win situation.
  19. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    Of course they do...they mean everything! If it is within the legal limitations of cities code compliance they can whine till the cows come home.

    Will the police show up? yes most municipalities police are mandated to respond, if you know you are within the legal limits just ask for code compliance officer they will take an amplitude reading, if the reading is at or under the legal limit police have ZERO choice but to inform the complainant that sound level is completely legal.
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  20. Goatrope

    Goatrope Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    This has been my experience. We have a great rapport with the police in the area, and they have the difficult task of informing the complainant we are in compliance. If they don’t like it, they can petition the town council to review the ordinance.
    C Stone likes this.
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