If you’re a big fan of partying or watching action movies, one factor that takes you closer to the real action is the deep bass generated by home theater or music subwoofers. According to research, subwoofer bass is one of the main contributes to sound pollution. So, while you might be enjoying the low frequencies reproduced by your subwoofer, your neighbors on the other hand might be cursing you especially if you live in an apartment, a duplex, or a condo unit.
With that said, one of the major questions most homeowners ask is how they can reduce subwoofer vibrations through walls. So, in this post, we’re going to discuss some factors that can help to alleviate this type of problem to avoid friction with your neighbors. But first, let’s discuss what bass notes are and how they travel to adjacent rooms.
What is Low-Frequency Bass?
Before you solve this problem of bass noise, you need to first understand what bass is and how it’s created. Now, bass is the low-frequency sound generated by a subwoofer. In musical instruments, bass is generated by the bass guitar, the bass key in a keyboard, the kick drum, and the bass sound of people with deeper voices.
Unlike high-frequency sounds generated by midrange speakers, low-frequency bass sounds have a more physical manifestation that makes them easier to hear and feel even by deaf people. So, due to their deep physical sensation, getting rid of bass noises is a little trickier.
You see, if you’re living in an apartment, a duplex, or a condo, you should note that your home theater’s volume isn’t the problem but rather the vibration that’s being emitted by your subwoofer. The long wavelengths of the sub are responsible for creating structural noise that travels through ceilings, walls, and floors.
So, with that said, here are a few easy tricks and hacks you can consider if you’re looking to reduce the amount of subwoofer vibrations getting to your neighbors through walls.
Tips to Help Reduce Subwoofer Vibration Through Walls
1) Near-Field Placement
The first, and, of course, the easiest tactic you can employ is to place the subwoofer closest to you to make it easier for you to tune the sub-volume. One rule of thumb with any home theater system is that the lower the sound the less the vibration your subwoofer will generate. This, therefore, means that the amount of vibrations escaping to other rooms through the wall, ceiling, and the floor will generally be reduced.
Besides tuning the subwoofer volume, another benefit of placing the sub near you is that your eyes will capture a purer version of the waveform since the sub is directly in front of you. This is different from when the subwoofer is placed at a corner where your ears get corrupted bass notes that have already been reflected by the walls.
2) Bass Traps
Bass traps have been the focal point of most discussions recently and that alone makes them a sure-fire option we can’t just neglect. Now, bass traps are acoustic foams that are fitted on the corners of your living room to absorb as much sound as possible.
With a thickness of approximately 6-inches, bass traps are fitted at the corners to trap any bass sounds that bounce off in those areas. While they do reduce the amount of bass tones trying to escape to other rooms, one drawback about them is that the overall bass experience will be much lower. Also, they don’t deal with vibrations meaning neighbors living in floors beneath you will still hear the vibrations.
Now, if placing sound traps on the corners don’t work, you can try adding more traps on the walls to see whether stray bass waves will get absorbed.
3) Decouple the Subwoofer From the Floor
The next option you might wish to consider is decoupling the subwoofer. This is basically lifting the subwoofer about an inch off the floor to reduce or rather dampen the mechanical vibrations generated by the sub and transferred through the floor. Now, virtually all subwoofers are fitted with tiny feet to elevate the base of the sub.
While they do a tremendous job of protecting the cabinet against damages caused by moisture, they usually do nothing to dampen the vibrations emanating from the sub. So, to decouple the subwoofer from the floor, it’s always recommended that you place the subwoofer on top of an isolation pad to dampen the vibrations.
Now, isolation pads come in all sorts of shapes and designs. There are cheaper models and there are high-quality brands that are made of spongy and rubberized materials with air gaps in between to dampen the cabinet’s vibrations before they hit the floor.
Another alternative is to replace your subwoofer’s factory-installed feet with stock feet comprising of specially engineered rubber-like elastomer. The best thing about these footings is that they dampen the cabinet’s vibrations regardless of how loud the low-frequency bass tones seem to be.
4) Adjust the Bass Level
One critical step most people tend to miss out when tuning their home theater systems is adjusting the bass level. You see, the crossover settings as well as the gain and phase switch can have a huge impact on the quality of sound generated.
So, to have a more balanced 3-dimensional music experience, you need to tune your crossover, the gain, and the phase switch. About the gain, you need to first turn off the subwoofer volume then adjust it slowly up to that point where the sub begins to fill in the base.
The phase switch can be turned between 0 and 180 degrees up to that point where you notice the sound quality is has gotten clear.
Before I conclude, I would like to mention one more trick that might be of great help. Avoid using down-firing subwoofers at any cost. Since the subwoofer driver is facing downward, these types of subs can generate more vibrations that can be a real nuisance to your neighbors.
With that said, here are four hacks that can help you enjoy great music without getting in trouble with your neighbors. By using these methods in conjunction, you’ll enjoy louder bass when listening to music, when gaming, or when watching your favorite movies without receiving any complaints from those people around you.