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Sound Advice About Noise Reduction On Your Balcony

by Fern on August 11, 2009

in Outdoor Decor,Privacy

Apartment/condo living means living thisclose to your neighbor. It often means hearing all sorts of things from your neighbor’s unit that you’d rather not hear. And often times, living in a high density area means listening to all sorts of other noises from streets, trains, planes, jack hammers, and on and on. In addition to your neighbor’s noises, you probably would like to have a conversation with the windows open or out on your balcony, and it would be nice if your neighbors didn’t hear every detail.

Noise Reduction

Especially outside, there are things you can do to reduce the noise. Or at least make it more bearable. Tobin Cooley, the founder of Listen Acoustics suggests using two or three white noise sources at a low volume level “to create a neutral sound environment.” Things like water fountains, wind chimes, radios, or even a white noise machine can be used to neutralize unappealing noises.

With the can’t-beat-em-join-em philosophy of noise reduction in mind, I thought these wind chimes from Ten Thousand Villages would look great on a balcony or patio. And you have the added benefit of supporting a fair trade organization that supports artisans in the developing world.

Do you have any special noise reduction tips?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise @ Buddy Garden August 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

I don’t have any special noise reduction tips but anyone have tips for blocking the smoke from my neighbor? Maybe plant some strongly scented flowers? Help!

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Jen August 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Great tips – thanks! My deck is near a noisy highway and my best defense is my imagination- I imagine that the sound of cars whizzing by is the sound of running water! I do think a physical barrier, like a wall or trellis (tall potted bamboo?)helps to block the noise, too. Louise, maybe setting up a fan so that the smoke blows back on your neighbors would help them get the hint!

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Helen August 14, 2009 at 12:45 am

I guess I almost do the same thing with the sound of traffic, except I imagine it’s waves on the shore. This idea doesn’t seem to work with loud motorcycles though. We have chimes on our deck and I’d love to get a little gurgling water feature one day.

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Carol January 20, 2010 at 7:43 am

I think it’s easier to block a constant sound like traffic, than sudden bursts of sound – my neighbor’s air conditioner is really impacting our enjoyment of our deck. Any suggestions?

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Fern January 20, 2010 at 11:30 am

Carol–Can you place plants or some sort of other physical barrier near your neighbor’s air conditioning unit? It may help to diminish the noise, and then you can use white noise (like from a fountain) to help minimize the remaining air conditioning noise.

Carol January 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Yes, we’ve tried plants as a barrier, both on the deck and planted outside the deck with no real luck. We haven’t tried using a fountain. My husband is thinking of making a “wall” from styrofoam insulation that we can move easily to help absorb some of the noise.

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Bonnie Schnitta, PhD October 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Increasing the background noise has some value, but will only have a significant impact if the noise created is of a similar frequency as the disturbing noise. It is possible to adjust the water flow to change the frequency, so it matches the frequency you would like to eliminate. It is important to know that it takes roughly a 200 foot depth of foliage to equal one acoustic barrier, which is why Carol is correct in her response to the efficacy of the plants as a barrier. I just wrote an article that will be published in the upcoming Journal for Light Construction on how to reduce outdoor mechanical noise. As for a barrier for outdoor noise one (of many) true acoustic options is to create a lattice sandwich with clear SoundSense LV-1 on which anything beautiful can be grown. Email info@soundsense.com for more information.

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